BALTIMORE, JUNE 24 -- In 1987, his second year racing tri-athlons, Mike Pigg changed the way triathletes rode the bicycle leg of the race, pedaling like a demon, say observers. But hard cycling was not the key to his come-from-behind victory today in the third race of the Bud Light U.S. Triathlon Series. It was pacing.
It paid off. When front-runner Steve Fitch wilted with one mile left in the 10-kilometer run, Pigg passed the leader to win in a cumulative swim-bicycle-run time of 1 hour 50 minutes 50 seconds.
Fitch was second in 1:52:19 and Harold Robinson took third in 1:53:00.
In the women's race, Jan Ripple, mother of three, appeared to have the edge as she stepped off her bike and onto the running course nearly two minutes ahead of Joy Hansen, who followed in third. But Ripple, still ailing from a stress fracture in April, was passed by Hansen, whose strength is running, with a mile remaining.
Hansen won in 2:02:15.
Ripple, who is in her final tri-athlon season as she looks ahead to beginning to train for the Olympics in cycling next year, placed second in 2:02:34. Renee Goldhirsch was third in 2:04:42.
The night before the race, the professionals agreed not to use wetsuits in the 1,500-meter swim, which, because of added buoyancy, give an advantage to the lesser swimmers. Pigg, not a good swimmer, came out of the water in good position in eighth.
"I don't know what the guys were doing, it's not their normal pace," he said.
The pace picked up considerably on the 40-kilometer (24.8-mile) bike leg. Near six miles, Fitch took the lead and kept a healthy cushion between himself and Pigg. But up a long hill at 10 miles, Pigg barreled past him.
"I was really concerned on the bike ride," said Pigg. "I don't want to sprint with the guy. I'd rather work three miles than the whole race and he was slowing down so I sped up.
"And I'm thinking, 'I'm ahead, I'll pull away, it's the normal Pigg story,' and when he passed me I was hurting. It was time to change my game plan."
Pigg visibly extended himself to pass Fitch, which appeared to be a waste of energy four miles later when Fitch regained the lead.
"I'm trying to teach myself how to peak at certain times rather than always do mediocre," Fitch said. "Last year I tried to be consistent and I did well in the Coke Grand Prix but I wasn't able to hit my peak race and make the U.S. team and that bothered me."
When former All-Met Good Counsel swimmer and Gettysburg's first all-American, Jeff Cuddeback, 31, finished his swimming career, he was bored and took to triathlons. He finished fifth here two years ago and third last year. This year, an Achilles' tendon problem kept him back and he finished 12th.
"I couldn't really let go the swimming but I was too young to compete masters and I saw triathlons on TV and I thought, 'I could do that,' " he said. "I was a little off today. I was hoping for the top 10."
LEADING FINISHERS MEN
1, Mike Pigg, Arcata, Calif., 1:50:50; 2, Steve Fitch, Newtown Square, Pa., 1:52:19; 3, Harold Robinson, Santa Rosa, Calif., 1:53:00; 4, Andrew Carlson, Irvine, Calif., 1:53:08; 5, Brad Kearns, Los Angeles, 1:54:07; 6, Brooks Clark, Newtown Square, Pa., 1:54:24; 7, Garrett McCarthy, Redondo Beach, Calif., 1:54:39; 8, Jeff Devlin, West Chester, Pa., 1:54:44; 9, Clark Campbell, Lawrence, Kan., 1:55:48; 10, Brooks Truskett, Alexandria, 1:56:15. WOMEN
1, Joy Hansen, Newtown Square, Pa., 2:02:15; 2, Jan Ripple, Baton Rouge, La., 2:02:34; 3, Renee Goldhirsch, Medford, N.J., 2:04:42; 4, Laurei Samuelson, Cupertino, Calif., 2:06.59; 5, Pam Poole, West Chester, Pa., 2:09:38; 6, Juliana Harrison, Morristown, N.J., 2:11:29; 7, Alicia Steinhardt, Berkeley, Calif., 1:12:32; 8, Judy Lamb, Fort Worth, 1:12:38; 9, Terry Martin-Bush, Cardiff, Calif., 1:13:57; 10, Kit Ager, Princeton, N.J., 1:14:26. GRAND PRIX POINT STANDINGS
MEN -- Pigg, 529; Carlson, 420; Clark 367.
WOMEN -- Hansen, 420; Samuelson, 333; Ripple, 325.