June 3/01 8:59 am - Montreal World Cup Story
Posted by Editoress on 06/3/01
Montreal Women's World Cup
Quebec's bicycle racing phenomenon Geneviève Jeanson has answered all naysayers to her abilities with a race-dominating performance at the Montreal Women's World Cup, which saw her finish over seven minutes ahead of her closest rival. Quebec's other cycling star, Lyne Bessette, finished third, losing a sprint to Sweden's Susanne Ljungskog.
Jeanson came into the race, the fifth in the season long series, with fans anxious to see how the young Lachine rider would do against a full field of the top pros in the world. Among the 80 assembled riders was Bessette's Saturn racing team, with World Cup series leader Anna Millward of Australia, and the legendary Jeannie Longo - world record holder, and Olympic and World champion. The course is considered the hardest race of World Cup series, with 12 laps of an 8.3 kilometre circuit, highlighted by a punishing 3.2 kilometre climb to the top of Mont Royal, for a total of 100 kilometres of racing.
Jeanson had predicted prior to the start that the race would be "aggressive; very hard and very fast", and her Rona team started the aggression with a first lap attack by Manon Jutras. This effort was part of a plan to thin the field, by forcing other teams to chase down the leader. However, no one was biting, so Jeanson received direction by radio from her coach to attack on the third ascent of Mont Royal.
"My manager said to attack on the next lap and try and bring a small group across with me (to her team mate Jutras). But when I turned around, there was nobody there."
Jeanson flew to the top of the climb, joining her team mate on the descent. The pair then worked together to increase their gap over the disintegrating peloton. On the next climb up Mont Royal Jeanson would drop her team mate (who eventually finished 19th), and then steadily pulled away from the remainder of the field with an impressive display of strength and speed.
She was helped in her efforts by the mathematics of the World Cup, which dictated that Bessette could not chase Jeanson if it endangered Millward's lead in the series. Early on, Bessette did lead the charge to bridge up to Jeanson, however, right behind her was the Dutch rider Mirjam Melcher - second to Millward in the overall standings.
"It was hard for Lyne, because she was chasing with Mirjam, and I couldn't stay with them on the climb." explained Millward "We couldn't have Mirjam up there away from me, so I told Lyne she had to settle down. Unfortunately, we had to do what was best overall for the team."
So, Bessette was forced to ride in the chase group, and watch her Quebec rival ride away before a cheering partisan crowd of over 10,000. Only in the last few laps was the Knowlton, Quebec rider able to make her own move, jumping away from the other chasers with Ljungskog and then losing a heartbreaking sprint for second by little more than a tire's width.
"I did what I had to do today", shrugged Bessette. "I was not surprised when she went so early, she is very fit and motivated. It is a good result - we have the (overall) jersey, and there were two Quebecers on the podium; it was pretty much perfect."