The Winner Is

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Zalusky szalusky@dailyherald.com

The Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove may not have had Lance Armstrong.

But it had everything else you need for a major bicycle race, with the bonus of the appeal of a neighborhood block party.

Many of the sport's top names graced the field for this weekend's event, including Chris Horner, No. 1 ranked American, winner of this year's Tour of the Basque Country and the 10th-place finisher at the Tour de France. Horner finished in the top five and came close to winning Sunday's race.

That race was won by Australia's

Jonathan Cantwell, representing Fly V Australia. Cantwell took the overall honors, walking away with an $18,000 check, in addition to the $6,000 he pocketed for winning Sunday's event.

Canadian David Veilleux of Kelly Benefits Strategy took second in Sunday's race, while Carlos Ospina of the Colombian National Team took third.

In the overall, Cantwell finished first, while Veilleux earned second. Last year's overall winner, Karl Menzies of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, took third overall. Fourth place went to Jelly Belly's Michael Freedman, the 2007 winner. Horner took fifth.

"The course is what makes the race really exciting. It's really technical. The mayor does a really good job of making it hard. The turns make it a whole lot harder, because you got to accelerate in and out of them so hard all day long," said Horner, who represented the team from Radio Shack.

Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson said the number of riders was up 20 percent this year.

"We'll be well over 1,000 riders this weekend, which will be a record number for us. But that's not surprising. One, we're well established now, and, two, a lot of races have been dropping," including Chicago and Downers Grove. "In this economy, there are less rides going on, so riders are looking for more events to be in, so that helps us."

Also, he said, there is a bigger turnout of pro riders.

And although the economy did force Elk Grove to cut back a little bit on its investment in the event, "We're very fortunate. Our sponsors stepped up," he said.

The end of the race was marred when one of the riders lost control, hopped a curb on Elk Grove Boulevard and landed into three onlookers. One of them, John Connelly, said his leg was cut below the knee. The other two, he said, were taken away by ambulance for a routine check. …