The 1-2 win |

The 1-2 win

Duane Strawser never knows just how strong the field will be for the Nevada City Classic’s headline event until the cyclists steer their front tire to the start/finish line for the Men’s Pro 1-2 event.

But having been in contact with several of the country’s top teams – and cyclists – throughout the week, he expects the typical top-shelf talent to arrive in time for the 44th running of the second oldest cycling race in the nation.

And considering many of the top riders from the East Coast – who normally wouldn’t incur the expense of going back to Cali for just one event – were stationed in SoCal for the Olympic trials the past three days, this year’s field very well could be quite the star-studded affair.

“It sounds like things are shaping up to be strong,” said local Pro 1-2 entry Jason Moeshler. “There are a lot of riders realizing that they will be able to make it up here after the trials.

“Duane’s been incredibly accommodating in taking care of them, making sure they have place to stay and getting them up here.”

Though most of the names who end up on the roster sheet until Sunday morning, Strawser has gotten commitments from several top teams – including Sierra Nevada, Webcor and U.S. Postal.

U.S. Postal, the team that has guided Lance Armstrong to a record-tying five straight Tour de France titles and will go for an unprecedented sixth this summer, has guaranteed to field six to nine team members. Strawser said he expects one of those cyclists to be 2002 Nevada City Classic champion Antonio “Tony” Cruz.

Fans will find another familiar name vying for the title, after several near-misses at the crown in past years. Trent Klasna, a Cool resident, will be one of the Sierra Nevada team members to fly northward after the Olympic trials in Redlands.

Klasna will first though take one final shot at a career goal of representing his country in the Olympic games.

“I began cycling in 1989 after watching my oldest brother compete in the Mulholland Road race the year before and meeting Bob Mionski, who had just returned from the Olympics,” Klasna said in a statement. “I was so inspired that I gave up all my old friends with the ultimate goal of making the Olympic team. Here I am racing 16 years later with one last chance – the day before Nevada City in Los Angeles … here we go!”

Klasna’s teammate and 2003 Nevada City champion Eric Wohlberg, who is vying for spot on the Canadian Olympic team, won’t make the trip back to western Nevada County to defend his crown this year. But Klasna won’t hit Broad Street all alone, said team owner and Smartville resident Kurt Stockton.

“On Saturday, I’ll take them to the airport and then I’ll be the one driving all their stuff up here,” Stockton said from his home and KS Marketing office on Mooney Flat Road this week. “I’ll get back up here late Saturday, or if I stop and sleep, early Sunday morning.

“It’s definitely going to be a tight schedule, but we wanted to be at both events. We think it’s important to support local events and Nevada City has been here forever.”

Another of Klasna’s teammates, Nevada City’s own Chris McGovern (see “Glaring Omission, Page B1) will be at the Classic but not competing after having a benign tumor removed through surgery last month. One of Sierra Nevada’s top riders expected to compete is Ben Jacques-Maynes, who has already claimed championships at the Nature Valley Grand Prix and the Cat’s Hill Criterium this year.

Webcor’s roster, which includes three of the top four finishers from the 2003 Nevada City Classic, also lists John Peters, who edged Klasna out for the 2000 Classic title. Whether the former champ will be at the start/finish line Sunday remains to be seen, but don’t be surprised if James Mattis (2nd in ’03), and John Kelly (4th in ’03) join already confirmed entrant Justin England (3rd in ’03).

In addition to his Nevada City finish, England also won the Mount Shasta Hillclimb in 2003 and had a strong performance at the Tour of Georgia (19th place), which was won by U.S. Postal’s Armstrong.

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