Present and Past Air Products Riders Put On A Show To Commemorate 35 Years
In celebration of over 35 years of Air Products sponsoring the developmental programs at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center current participants and graduates put on a great show to illustrate the impact that the programs have had on the cycling community in T-Town.
The Air Products Developmental Program has had over 15,000 participants earning more than 225 national titles, 770 medals, and created nine Olympians in the past 35 years. To commemorate Air Products’ continued dedication to the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, executive director Marty Nothstein presented Air Products Manager of Communication Technologies and Services Steve Cameron with a framed Air Products Champion jersey to show appreciation for the program that helped him win his two Olympic medals. Lehigh County Commissioner Michael Schware and Congressman Charlie Dente were also present to give Air Products a proclamation to acknowledge the success of the Air Products Developmental Program.
Air Products riders competed in eight different age-graded scratch races to decide who would be the champion. Riders young and old left it all on the track in the quest for the green and white champions jersey. Winners included Kim Zubris in the Women’s 18 and over category, Monica Volk in the Girls 13-17 group, Vicky Werley in the Girls 11-12, Brittany Bardman in the Girls 9-10 class, Gerard Josulevicz in the Boys 9-10, Anthony Mallia in the Boys 11-12, Andrew Davis in the Men 18-44, and Philip McGraw in the Mens 45 plus category. For McGraw, the Air Products Program has given him a new outlook on cycling. “I’ve been an avid cyclist for years,” McGraw said, “I signed up for Air Products, and I really don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun in my life.”
In the Men’s racing, Bobby Lea showed the strength that has made him a two time Olympian. He got the night off to a rolling start in the men’s 10 lap scratch by initiating a breakaway with Poland’s Mateusz Mikulicz. New National Omnium Champion Zak Kovalcik wasn’t content to let them get away and bridged up with three to go. Mikulicz cracked, but Lea kept going to take the win over Kovalcik.
Next up for the men was a Super Sprint Elimination. Lea jumped at the chance to animate the race by taking a flyer during the elimination portion of the race to secure his position in the final 12 that would move on to the scratch race. Shane Kline was wise to Lea’s move and reeled him in to take the win.
In a night full of endurance races, the male sprinters had their shot for glory in an invitational Keirin. The field was stacked with two-time Olympian Giddeon Massie, former US National Keirin Champion and Junior World Medalist Matt Baranoski, former Japanese Keirin rider Gil Hatton, and Andy Lakatosh, the leader of the Rider of the Year competition. Baranoski displayed the skills he learned years ago in Air Products when he came over a hard charging Kline to take the win and further narrow the gap between himself and Lakatosh in the Rider of the Year competition.
The men capped off the night with a 10 mile final. Jackie Simes and Jason Miedhof tested their luck in a break away that lasted almost 20 laps. With six to go Lea had had enough and went off in hot pursuit of the break with Kline in tow. Kline wasn’t able to hang on to the Olympian’s pace and had to settle for second, while Barry Miller won the field sprint for third.
The women’s field may have been lacking numbers, but they made up for it with aggression. The night started off with an elimination race that saw Charline Joiner take her first Friday night win of the season over track legend Becky Quinn.
The women knew they were in for a battle when they saw the sprint tournament on the schedule and reigning US National Sprint Champion Dana Feiss on the line. Feiss easily made it into the final where she met Joiner and Mandy Marquardt. After a drawn out came of cat and mouse, the bell rang and Feiss was off like a bullet easily taking the win.
The women’s racing for the evening concluded with an 11 woman Keirin. Like clockwork Feiss went at the sound of the bell, but Joiner was prepared and outlasted Feiss on the run in to the line to score her second win of the evening.
Next Week: The final race of the season is next week with Madison Cup presented by Salamander in conjunction with Corporate Challenge. Gates will open at 5:30 and racing begins at 7:30. Tickets are as low as $5 and children 12 and under are free.
Article by Elspeth Huyett
Photos by Rick Menapace.