Jacob Piil's main goals in today's CSC Invitational cycling race in Arlington will be far more complex than simply coming in first place in the race.
Piil's main goal is to help his squad, Team CSC, finish in first place overall, and most likely it will mean putting the team's sprinters into position to win individually.
"Sunday is a short race," Piil said. "We have to have fast sprints for us to win. So we will probably have to help our sprinters win the race. . . . What I'm going for is to help my teammates get in a good position to win."
Team CSC, which shares its sponsor with the race, will be one of the team favorites at the seven-year-old meet, which was previously known as the Clarendon Cup. It is part of USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar, and the racers will be competing for points toward the opportunity to compete in the U.S. Olympic cycling trials.
The race on the one-kilometer course begins at noon today, on Wilson Boulevard near the Clarendon Metro station. The racers will do 50 laps on the five-turn course. Admission is free, and spectators can watch from /the street.
The race's field includes defending champion Jonas Carney of the Jelly-Belly Aramark team and 2002 champ Vasili Davidenko of the Navigators Cycling Team, a pair of winners who have also lost leads in this race by crashing with less than five kilometers remaining. The Navigators also have Olympic gold medallist Marty Nothstein.
Team CSC is entering the race as one of the top teams in the world after winning the team championship at the Tour de France last year. Piil said the team victory was not expected, or even a main goal, but it was a nice surprise
"It's a bigger deal to be a finalist," Piil said. "But after a few weeks, when we saw that we had a chance to win, we made a run at it."
At races like the CSC Invitational, team honors become more important, and Piil will be a key part of his team's success. The team includes Bobby Julich, the only American on the squad.
Piil, who is from Denmark, was the U.S. professional champion in 1999, and he is a two-time Olympian who has qualified for this summer's Olympics in Athens. Piil suffered a knee injury earlier this year, but he has bounced back and said that he will be aiming for another professional title at the championship race June 6 in Philadelphia.
"I almost didn't race this year" because of the knee injury, Piil said, "so I really want to prove myself."
Team racing is far more than just having a good performance individually, Piil said. Helping your teammate can range from blocking other team's cyclists from making moves to passing water to a teammate.
"You have to pay attention to what's going on," Piil said. "Teamwork is important, people have to help. Everybody rides with certain goals, and when you can you have to help them get that goal."