Escort to agony Triathlon leader felled by police motorcycle

June 24, 1991|By Nestor Aparicio | Nestor Aparicio,Evening Sun Staff

Almost everyone agreed that the best man didn't win the Bud Light Triathlon yesterday.

Brett Rose, who won last week's tour race in San Jose, was a full 90 seconds in front of the pack and just four miles from the end of the middle bike portion of the race. That lead, coupled with Rose's strong history in the 10K finale, should have been enough to give him an easy win and the $1,000 first prize.

L But it was that long lead that inevitably cost him the race.

So far in front that he raced for miles without a motorcycle police escort, Rose was hit just after one arrived and made a U-turn after leading him the wrong way on the course near Maryland Avenue. Rose, who flipped headfirst over the handlebars and did major damage to his thigh, shoulder and wrist, said it was the third time in less than 10 minutes that he nearly was killed.

"I didn't have an escort for about 10 miles and twice I went through intersections where the police weren't stopping traffic," said Rose, of Laguna Beach, Calif. "I was coming down sharp hills in the rain and watching the traffic moving across the intersection. I just went through and prayed that no one was coming at the same time."

Rose said when the escort finally came, about a mile from where the accident occurred, it led him astray.

"We made a wrong turn and people were yelling for me to turn around," he said. "The motorcycle's brakes were better than mine so when we went to turn I T-boned his motorcycle and went flying. It was like hitting a wall. His bike didn't move."

Rose quickly got up and rode his bike the remaining four miles on a bent front rim. Then, bloodied from head to toe, he proceeded to run the 10K final portion of the race with ligament damage to his right front thigh, finishing 15th and last among the pros in 2 hours, 9 minutes and 43 seconds.

After the race he received 14 stitches in his broken right wrist and four in his right shoulder. He will be out of action for at least six weeks, probably costing him a chance at the Coke Grand Prix season-ending prize of $30,000. He would have been in first place in the standings with a win yesterday but now stands seventh.

Jimmy Riccitello, who was in second place at the time of the spill, continued past Rose and held the lead through the foot race to win the title.

"I'm not saying Brett would have won the race, but it would have been hard to catch him," said Riccitello, of Tucson, Ariz., who finished at 1:51:38 and now leads in the overall standings. "When I passed him he was hurt and his rim was bent in a bad way."

Garrett McCarthy, who finished second at 1:52:39, was more succinct.

"He would have won the race going away," McCarthy said. "He would have been almost two minutes ahead on the run and no one would have gotten near him. I really felt bad for him when I saw him. You hate to see something like that happen."

The women's race also was quite interesting.

At the end of the biking portion, Jan Ripple, a 35-year-old mother of three from Baton Rouge, La., was leading by more than a minute. But fleet-footed Joy Hansen of Newtown Square, Pa., a former cross country All-America at the University of Arizona, caught Ripple halfway through the 10K and won by 48 seconds, finishing at 2:05:04.

"I heard her coming but there wasn't very much I could do but keep trying," Ripple said. "I lost my hat and she picked it up and ran it up to me, which was very nice. But it's a little frustrating losing with the lead I had."

Hansen, who leads the women's portion of the Coke Grand Prix, said all she needed was to see Ripple to pass her.

"After I took her her hat I ran with her for about a half-mile, but then I got some extra strength and took off," she said.

The first local finisher was Kirk Corsello, 24, of Cockeysville, who finished 15th overall at 1:57:49. The first local female was Nancy Lugerty, 23, of Baltimore, who finished at 2:11:54.

More than 2,000 people participated in yesterday's event, which began at 7:30 a.m. at Gunpowder Falls State Park and ended at Rash Field.

The Bud Light series, which has 10 events this summer, makes its fourth stop in Chicago in two weeks.

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