Posted by Editor on 04/15/01
Tour of Willamette Stage 6
Courtesy David Cathcart - Intersports
The 2001 Tour of Willamette ended today in dramatic fashion. GT's Alison Dunlap has taken the overall from Kim Smith of AutoTrader.com and Intersports' Sandy Espeseth, while yesterday's yellow jersey Katrina Berger of 800.com has dropped to a distant fourth.
The Sharp's Creek road race was fought over one of the most beautiful parcours ever seen in North American racing. The 66 mile race rolled along backwoods streams outside of Cottage Grove before swinging abruptly to the right over the Clarks Creek pass at 5500 feet and heading into a twisting descent through the snow line back into Cottage Grove.
After an hour of riding at a friendly pace, the attacks started coming soon after the day's only hotspot. Team Intersports made several attempts to send someone clear, and got lucky when climbing ace Jessica Phillips rode away with Tina Mayolo (AutoTrader) and Stacey Peters (800.com). The trio collaborated well and soon had a gap of 4 minutes as the climb approached. On the early slopes of the climb, Mayolo was dropped from the break. In the field Caroline Alexander of Intersports attacked, forcing a response from Berger. The 800.com rider continued to set tempo up the climb towards her doom. With 3km to the first QOM, Dunlap attacked and quickly joined Alexander. Berger's pace increased as Dunlap was her nearest rival. With 1km to the summit the gap was 30 seconds, with Alexander now drifting back off of Dunlap's wheel. Behind Berger a surge came from Smith and Espeseth, forcing the 800.com rider's hand. She quickly tried to close the gap, but was unable. The noose was tightening.
Phillips was the first over the top followed by Peters and the rapidly closing duo of Smith and Dunlap. Espeseth followed shortly thereafter but her pace was slower. Alexander and Jimena Florit were next followed by Berger. The gap had grown to a minute making Dunlap leader on the road. At that moment Phillips sat up and waited for Espeseth while Alexander somehow managed to crawl back up to her team mate's side. The trio quickly went to work closing the gap to Smith and Dunlap with Florit sitting in.
After riding along the ridgeline for 2km's the descent began. Reminiscent of shots of the Gavia Pass in Italy, the group descended through 6 foot high snow banks in places, with the road but a car's width. By the base of the descent, and with 30km to go, Dunlap and Smith's gap was 1 minute to the Espeseth group and 2 minutes to the Yellow Jersey of Berger. Soon thereafter, Florit flatted out of Espeseth's group. It was now up to Intersports teammates Phillips and Espeseth to maintain the gap over Berger and assure a spot on the podium. Riding with complete selflessness Phillips buried herself for her teammate and assured that the gap did not shrink but indeed grow to 3 minutes over Berger. In the finish Smith took the stage over the new Yellow Jersey Dunlap, while Phillips' hard efforts were rewarded with 3rd. In addition, Intersports' Espeseth had ridden herself back onto the overall podium.
We have learned that the selection for the CEO position of the 2003 Worlds in Hamilton is down to two people, with the final choice to happen within the next 2 weeks. Also, it appears that the Director of NationalRracing Programs (Pierre Hutsebaut) will be leaving his CCA position to take a technical position with the 2003 Worlds organization. Finally, there are rumours of one other high level defection from the CCA, but nothing confirmed at this point. At this rate, there will be no one left at the helm of the CCA. . .
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