September 19/99 2:36 am - Tour de Hokkaido-Part 2
Posted by Editor on 09/19/99
Tour de Hokkaido, Japan
(courtesy Kris Westwood)
Part 2 of Hokkaido reports from Kris Westwood
Another eventful day in the Tour de Hokkaido. Once again, one of the Canadians found himself on the ground in the feed zone, while the day's breaks did not have a dramatic effect on the overall standings. On a positive note, it looks like Pascal Choquette's wrist is not broken, just badly sprained. His collar bone also seems to have escaped the worst. He is following the race with us in the team car.
It was another beautiful day as the pack rolled out of the fishing town of Abashiri. Within the first six kilometres of the stage an attack went off the front: John Mathews of the American team and Michael McNena of the Irish team gradually eked out a substantial lead. After 15 km they were 45" ahead of the pack, while behind Robin Baillie suffered another flat. Rob rejoined the peloton quickly.
The first mountain pass of the stage failed to split the pack, though several riders lost contact. Rob was in difficulty in the last kilometre of the climb, but on the descent had no problems getting back in the pack. The breakaway's lead on the pack had reached 3:30 on the climb, but by the top, after 45 km, they had been brought back to 2:20. A wide, fast downhill didn't help their cause, and at the 66 km mark, shortly after the next, smaller, mountain pass they were caught.
The roads in this section were straight and exposed to the wind. A showdown soon developed as a group of 14 riders split off the front of the madly chasing pack. The lead peaked at 50 seconds, but the chasers eventually brought them back coming through the feed zone. The momentum of all this action meant the field entered the zone at about 60 km/h, and of course this resulted in chaos. Martin St-Laurent fell when an inexperienced feeder provided to us by the organization swung the musette into his handlebars. An American also went down when he got his musette stuck in his front wheel. Martin rejoined the pack very quickly, minus a little skin.
The next mountain pass was quite soon after that, and a group of 20 riders opened up a gap halfway up the climb. Sergey Yakovlev (KAZ/Nippon Hodo) was in the group, along with riders from the majority of the strong teams, including Martin St-Laurent. This group fought hard to stay ahead of the pack, which was driven by the Bridgestone Anchor team. It was not to be, however, and most of the riders were caught almost within sight of the finish. Three riders managed to slip away before the pack caught them: Min Soo Park (KOR), Makoto Iijima (JPN/ Sumita Ravanello) and Sergey Yakovlev managed to stay away to finish in that order with only an 18 second lead. Yakovlev re-took the overall lead.
The bunch sprint was won by Takehiro Mizutani (JPN/Nippon Hodo), just beating Charles Dionne to the line. The other three Canadians all finished in the pack.
Fortunately we managed to escape today's incidents without serious consequences. Our luck should turn for the better in the next couple of stages . . . Kris Westwood
Stage 2 - 179.9 km
1. Min Soo PARK 4h23'52"(40.9 km/h)
2. Makoto IIJIMA
3. Sergey YAKOVLEV both same time
4. Takehiro Mizutani at 18"
5. Charles Dionne
36. Robin BAILLIE
51. Bruno LANGLOIS
57. Martin ST-LAURENT
87 starters, 79 finishers
Overall after stage 2:
1. Sergey YAKOVLEV
2. Min Soo PARK at 1"
3. Makoto IIJIMA at 3"
4. Junichi SHIBUYA (JPN/Bridgestone Anchor) at 19"
5. Philippe MAUDUIT (FRA/Nippon Hodo) at 26"
7. Charles DIONNE at 29"
18. Robin BAILLIE at 38"
28. Bruno LANGLOIS at 46"
43. Martin SAINT-LAURENT at 56"
1. Makoto IIJIMA (41 pts)
8. Charles DIONNE (26 pts)
1. Shinri SUZUKI (JPN/Shimano)
1. Nippon Hodo