Wieczarek wins Tour de Strongland race
By Dan Stefano
Published: Monday, Sept. 8, 2008
Only one second separated the top two finishers in the marquee event of the Tour de StrongLand bike races, and three other races were determined by the same margin Sunday at Allegheny Town Center in Leechburg.
Brian Wieczarek, 42, and Ray Russell, 49, cycled past the rest of the field in the 37-mile road race, setting up a photo finish. Wieczarek edged Russell to highlight the 20th anniversary of the StrongLand Chamber of Commerce-hosted event.
“Me and Ray got away with, maybe, 10 miles to go,” said Wieczarek, a Ligonier native. “Once the pack lost sight of us, their initiative to chase was a lot less, so we opened up our gap. We just rode side by side for a while. Then, we decided to drag race and put the hammer down.”
Wieczarek, racing with the Freddie Fu Cycling Team, ended the race with a time of one hour, 36 minutes and 57 seconds, while Russell, a member of team Sette Nova was a second behind. The next group of finishers was nearly four minutes behind the duo.
Russell, a Freeport native, had a secret to his success.
“Stick-to-it-ness,” he said. “That's my word. (Sunday) there was a lot of packing early, and Brian and I got off on a long break. Usually, for the long breaks, it's easier on the older guys because it's fast and steady instead of fast-slow, fast-slow.”
Still, the course wasn't a leisurely drive, as it wound through parts of Lower Burrell, Leechburg and Appollo.
“This is actually a very tough course,” Russell said.
“It's so rolly. It's up-down, up-down, up-down. Those little hills, although aren't real steep, wear you down after a while.”
In the 37-mile mountain bike race, which ran concurrently with the road race, the finish was also neck-and-neck. Delmont's Donald Hozaflook, 38, took first place with a time of 1:50.36. Alex Kukieza, 46, of Zelienople, was right behind at 1:50.37.
“We battled it out the whole way,” Hozaflook said. “(Kukieza) was pretty strong.”
Among women riders who competed alongside the men, New Kensington's Nina Wilczek was the second-overall women's finisher.
Riding in the 20-mile road race, the mother of two toddlers finished with a time of 1:06.21.
“I love to ride bikes,” Wilczek said. “Sometimes, I don't have time to train, but my dad runs a cycling class, so I can work out there.”
Thirteen races took place over the course of the day, ranging from the 37-mile events to short sprints for 2- to 3-year olds. Three off-road races were held Saturday at Roaring Run Trail in Apollo.
An estimated 123 riders took part in yesterday's races, a testament to the Tour's drawing power over the past two decades.
“Absolutely, it's a success,” StrongLand Chamber of Commerce director Allan Walzak said. “We have so many wonderful volunteers working with the various youths and riders in the race. (The riders) are coming from everywhere. They came from all around Pittsburgh, Erie, Butler, Indiana (Pa.).”
Results from the other major races yesterday:
• Vandergrift native Adam Smith won the 10-mile mountain bike race in a time of 36:34. Smith graduated from Kiski Area High School earlier this year. Freeport's John Baker took second (41:42). n In the 20-mile mountain bike race, Mike Letson came out on top at 1:09.58. John Shirling was right behind at 1:10.46.
• Mike Mankier won the 20-mile road race, clocking in at 56:27. Brendon Bucinski was one second behind him.
• Kiski Area teacher James Feudale came in first in the 10-mile road race. His time of 29:40 barely edged Dan Rowley's 29:41.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt rallies in final seconds of overtime en route to OT victory over Clemson
- Led by Kittanning’s Nolf, 3 locals win Class AA state wrestling titles
- Spring training breakdown: Pirates 10, Rays 5
- Donor name to be stripped from Penn Hills library
- Steelers restructure Brown’s contract to become salary cap compliant
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
- Gorman: Pitt should be happy with Dixon
- Robert Morris advances to NEC title game
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- Penguins notebook: Fleury feeling sharp entering tough stretch