July 26/99 12:09 pm - Silver Star XC Story, News from Europe
Posted by Editoress on 07/26/99
Silver Star XC Canada Cup #6
by Greg Flaaten
Only 50 points separated Peter Wedge (NB Mapei Kona) and George Visser (QC Xenacom/Asics) going into today's Canada Cup Final at Silvertstar BC. That narrow margin made the Canada Cup series title anything but a lock for Wedge who has focused on the Canada Cup overall since winning Canada Cup #1 at home in New Brunswick.
The early stages of the race were largely uneventful and saw the main contenders riding evenly and within sight of each other for most of the first of five laps. Heading into lap two, it was no surprise to see Wedge out front and setting the pace with Mathieu Toulouse (QC Ford-Devinci), Neil Grover (MB, Rocky Mountain Bicycles) and Chad Miles (BC) forming a chase group within sight and striking distance of the leader.
Wedge was able to extend his lead to 17 seconds over Toulouse going in the third lap. Meanwhile, Geoff Kabush (BC Kona Factory) had closed to within 36 seconds of the leader, having overtaken Grover who followed another 12 seconds down. "He goes by so fast when he decides to go," noted Grover of Kabush's tendency to "start slow and then start flying. It's almost discouraging."
Kabush continued to pick up the pace as the race wore on. Just before the end of the third lap, he was able to overtake Toulouse, coming back into Silverstar Village. "I attacked just before the start because I didn't want to pull him up to Peter (Wedge)". By the mid point of the fourth lap, Wedge and Kabush were working together and moving away after having established a gap of 30 seconds on Toulouse. Grover maintained his pace another 30 seconds back and Chad Miles paced 30 seconds down on Grover.
As the men set into their final lap, it was Geoff Kabash leading Peter Wedge out of Silverstar Village. The pair had extended their lead on Toulouse to just over one minute and showed no signs of slowing. Toulouse, meanwhile, was busy fending off a charging Neil Grover who had closed to within 10 seconds.
Half way through the final lap Kabush had established a 30 second margin on Wedge. Grover had taken control of third place from Toulouse but had no chance at this point of catching the leaders, and Toulouse was now facing pressure from a surging Chad Miles.
"The big plan was to beat George (Visser) today", noted Wedge at the end of the day. But with Visser never really in contention, and with Wedge firmly in control of the overall series, Wedge could help Kabush in moving up in the Canada Cup standings and maintain his own position at the top of the overall. Kabush took full advantage of this opportunity and finished 39 seconds ahead of Wedge.
"We had the calculators out last night," admitted Kabush, "to find out exactly how it had to work out." The plan was executed flawlessly and with the win, Kabush was able to move up from 6th overall in the Canada Cup series to second. The tactic seals the top two positions in the overall standings for the pair. For Wedge, the overall title is a just reward for one of Canada's strongest, most consistent and versatile riders.
Behind Kabush and Wedge, Neil Grover held on for third, 1 minute and 11 seconds behind the leader with Mathieu Toulouse coming in 15 seconds behind, and Chad Miles only another 12 seconds behind him. "Considering the season, the day went wellâˆ‘excellentâˆ‘I'm pleased," commented Grover who notched his best Canada Cup finish of the year.
With Marie Premont's (QC Oryx) overall Canada Cup title assured, the presence of Melanie Dorion (QC Ford-Devinci) and Amber Chorney (BC Gary Fisher/OGC/Saab/Oakley) predicted that there would be exciting racing at the Canada Cup Final in Silverstar BC today.
Dorion, having returned only the day prior to the event from a mechanically disappointing Norba National in Utah, chased Chorney for the first lap of today's race and quickly memorized the challenges of a course she did not have an opportunity to pre-ride. Melanie McQuade (BC Rocky Mountain Bicycles/GM), Trish Sinclair, (BC Marin) and Marie Premont were spread out behind the leaders and quickly distanced.
At about the mid-point of the second of four laps, Dorion had managed to put a couple of caught riders from the Men's Elite field between her and Chorney, but Amber was still within striking distance. "She's amazing," noted Dorion of the always dangerous Chorney, "she can pass anyone wherever she likes." With that in mind, Dorion continued to press. The chasers, McQuade, Sinclair and Premont had stabilized their positions for the time being but were falling back on the leaders.
Heading into lap three, Dorion had managed to gap Chorney by 25 seconds. "We worked together for the first two laps, then I put the hammer down on the uphill," recounted Dorion. Behind Chorney, Sinclair and Premont, the Canada Cup series leaders coming into today's final event, were bridging the gap on McQuade.
Dorion continued to push into the fourth and final lap and had extended her lead to 2 minutes over Chorney. "Melanie was really strong," noted Chorney. "I had hoped to punch it a bit more on the final lap." But Dorion was relentless in her attack, and was able to maintain the gap and finished 2 minutes ahead of Chorney at the end of the day.
In spite of Dorion's and Chorney's domination of today's race, there were still battles being fought on the course. Sinclar led McQuade by a scant 35 points coming into today's final and McQuade did a good job of keeping Sinclair at bay for a couple of laps. With McQuade starting to fade in the third lap, however, and with Premont shifting into overdrive behind her, Sinclair picked up the pace. The two got past McQuade in the third and Sinclair led Premont by 38 seconds going into the final lap. The entire 38 second gap was made up in the first third of that lap by the strong climbing ability of Premont. She continued at that pace and was able to take third place by a margin of 50 seconds over Sinclair. Kiara Bisaro (BC Fitness Excellence) finished strong and moved into the number 5 spot 37 seconds behind Sinclair.
News from Europe
4th Tropheo Egidio Bedogni - July 24th, 1999. Lanciano, Italy
UCI Class: National 1/12 Distance: 152km
Number of Participants: 150
Average speed: 39.6 km/h
(Riding this race for the third time, I was convinced that I would at least make away with a prosciutto as in years past, and maybe even a good result. Both aspirations were fulfilled on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, in a small town famous for it's aged ham.)
130km of hilly road racing was controlled to the "t" by the SC Bedogni team, who's main sponsor hosted the event. A break of 8 riders, which came away at the 50km mark was held in check by the team, until the third to last lap (each of 20km). With 60km to go, SC REDA teammates Eliseo Dal Re and Mirko Biondi took to task, leading me up the 3km climb at a fast pace which only 3 other riders could match. Dal Re and Biondi, having done their work, retired to the roadside to watch the finale. Now a fit group of four, we worked together to catch the original break on the descent, and then rode a lap together to re-distance the break from the remainder of the field.
The final lap varied from the others, in that it included a 3km climb, with sections reaching 20% in grade, and a technical descent which led on to the final kilometre stretch. A chat with my team director confirmed what I thought to do: torch it up the climb, and see what came of it. On the first steep section, I pinned my heart rate to its max, and continued that way for the next 2km. Near the top, only Eddy Ratti (GS ITALFINE PODENZANO) and Fabio Bulgarelli (VC SINTOFARM VIGORPLANT)had held pace. Eddy attacked as we crested the climb onto a false flat section, and Bulgarelli followed. I lost 50m to them, but rejoined them in a headwind section. On the descent, Ratti attacked again, this time nor Fabio nor I, were willing to take the speed and risk that Ratti had adopted for the switchbacks. We worked together to try and catch him in the closing kilometre, but to no avail. Ratti rose his arms in victory as he crossed the line, and Bulgarelli took the sprint for second. I am pleased to have finished 3rd, and to have once again taken home some ham.
35th Coppa Colli Briantei - July 25, 1999. Sovico, Italy
UCI Class: International 1/6 Distance: 188km
Number of Participants: 201
Average Speed: 42.5 km/h
Sunday's race was once again taken by 22 year old Eddy Ratti of the GS
Italfine-Podenzano team. He rode a strong race, both tactically and physically, to emerge the victor after four and a half hours of the gruelling, twisty and rough circuit. The first half of the race was highlighted by a 10 man break, which none of the major teams considered a threat. At the 100km mark, the Pagnoncelli team, racing in front of a home town crowd, took to the front along with four riders from SC Reda Baggioni, bringing the 3 minute gap down to 45 seconds. Having the lead group within striking distance, raised the interest of the team captains, and the attacks began to fly. Within 10km, the field was decimated, and the blistering pace of attack versus counterattack enabled a selection of 12 riders to come clear of the main group.
These twelve pacelined up to the leaders by the 140km point, and consecutive counterattacks were launched again. At 25km to go, Fabio Carlino (SC Mobili Lissone) , Renzo Mazzoleni (G.S. FOR 3) and myself (SC REDA BAGGIONI) made a decisive move, and sped on together towards the finish. With 10km to go, we were joined by Ratti. I attacked, knowing that Ratti, if not caught napping, or at least a bit tired, would be nearly unbeatable in the closing kilometres of the event. My attack met with a quick demise though, as the race director's car had stalled in the middle of a tight cobbled switchback of the last climb, blocking the road. Slowing, the others caught up, and just after we squeezed past the lead car, Carlino countered, though did not manage to shed any riders. Near the top of the climb (now 5km to go), Ratti jumped, taking Carlino with him, leaving Mazzoleni and myself in their wake. Behind us, the gap had narrowed after the incident on the switchback -a double detriment, as it was Mazzoleni's teammate Yurgen Pauritsch in close pursuit.
This situation remained as such in the last 5km: Ratti and Carlino working to maintain their 5 second gap, myself and (until he discovered Pauritsch was in pursuit) Mazzoleni playing catch-up. Once Mazzoleni saw that his teammate was in arrears, he had his scapegoat and would not pull. At the finish, Ratti scorched Carlino in the sprint, and Mazzoleni moved to third in a 100m dash.