Posted by Editor on 04/13/03
Sea Otter Classic
This report made possible through the sponsorship of Evolution by Oryx
It was a 1-2-3 day at the Sea Otter Classic. Quebec women finished 1-2-3 in the final 160 kilometre stage of the road and 1-2-3 in the overall standings, led by Genevieve Jeanson (Rona-Esker). Saturn men finished 1-2-3 in the men's road stage race, with Australian Nathan O'Neill winning his first ever UCI internationally sanctioned race. Matt Decanio put the Prime Alliance team on the top step of the podium for the second day in a row, and moved into fifth overall with his victory. In mountain biking, Roland Green (Trek-VW) confirmed his lead by riding away from the opposition in the short track, and Alison Dunlap (Luna) replaced Chrissy Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher) in the magenta leader's jersey by winning her second consecutive stage.
Manon Jutras won the women's gruelling road race ahead of her Saturn team mate, defending Sea Otter champion Lyne Bessette, with overall race leader Genevieve Jeanson in third. In the overall standings, Jeanson maintained the lead she has held from stage one, while Bessette and Jutras moved ahead of T-Mobile's Amber Neben and Kimberly Bruckner.
"It was a pretty aggressive race right from the start." said the 35 year old Jutras, a former team mate of Jeanson who joined the powerful Saturn squad this year. "Our goal was to put time on Bruckner and it was my job on the final climb to lead out my team mate Lyne. 500 metres from the finish I heard Lyne yell 'Go, Go, Go' to me and saw that I had a little gap, so I went as hard as I could to the line. Now we have a French Canadian podium in California."
Jeanson echoed her former team mate Jutras: "Our goal is to motivate Quebecers to cycle, and three is definitely better than one. Today I owe my win to my team mates, because they kept things under control. Today we just had to dig a bit deeper to keep the jersey."
An early break with Ina Teutenberg (Saturn) and Dotsie Cowden (T-Mobile) was left to dangle for 110 kilometres, before being brought back shortly before the final climbing section. After this the attacks started, and Dede Demet-Barry (T-Mobile) got away with Amy Moore (Saturn). They reached a maximum of one minute before Jeanson's squad went to the front to shut it down. From the base of the climb Jeanson just ratcheted up the pace until there were only 4 at the front - Bessette, Jutras, Neben and herself. Bruckner didn't make the cut, and had no excuses: "I just didn't have it today. I knew early in the stage that I didn't have the legs, and when the attacks happened on the final climb I just couldn't respond."
Over the top, it was Jutras setting the pace and, in the rain that had begun to fall heavily, it was slippery, making riders like Jeanson more cautious, and thus setting the stage for Jutras' win.
For the Saturn men, it was a day of control. Already holding the top three spots in the standings, with Tom Danielson and defending champion Chris Horner behind O'Neill, the team just had to make sure that no one managed to get away from them.
An early break of Danny Pate (Prime Alliance) and Jacob Erker (Schroeder Iron) was allowed to dangle off the front for over 130 kilometres, before the Saturn machine shut them down.
"Things never got too out of hand." said O'Neill. "Our guys were on top of it all day, and we just did what we had to do."
After the duo were caught Saturn set a high tempo to discourage breaks, although Glenn Mitchell (Navigators) did get a bit of a gap in the final four kilometres. He was caught over the top and everyone began to set up for a field sprint - at least, the remaining 40 or so riders did, that is.
Then, Matt Decanio just kind of snuck away. He was helped a bit by a crash with less than 500 metres to go that took down Tom Danielson - "two guys went down in front of me and I had nowhere to go. When i was down lying tangled up in my bike I thought 'well, there goes my podium'..." Luckily for him, three team mates stopped, and Prime Alliance was slowing things down at the front for Decanio. Danielson got back on and Decanio stayed away, with Gord Fraser (Health Net) winning the field sprint and Svein Tuft in 4th.
O'Neill admitted to great relief at winning his first UCI stage race, after coming close in Malaysia in February, only to crash out of the leader's jersey. "I've always been the guy doing all the work, but never able to quite get this glory before, so it's nice to have that monkey off my back finally. To win here at Sea Otter is great, because this race has quite a history."
In the third stage of the mountain bike event, world champion and defending Sea Otter champion Green took his second win of the weekend, and continues to hold the overall lead, after a savvy ride - always near the front, but not launching an attack until the final lap. Thomas Frischknecht (Swisspower) and Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher) were supplying the motive power for the break until Green dropped them, but Hesjedal's fourth (behind Frischknecht) and Julien Absalon (Motorex-Bianchi) ) was enough to move him up to third overall.
Dunlap followed Melanie McQuaid's (Ford Outfitters) attack, along with her team mate Katerina Hanusova, Kelli Emmett (Hillenbrand Racing) and Susan Haywood (Trek-VW), and outsprinted McQuaid to take the stage and the overall lead, with McQuaid only 18 seconds back. Other Canadians didn't fare so well, with Kiara Bisaro (Gears Racing) 13th, Redden 14th and Alison Sydor (Trek-VW) 16th. Redden dropped from first to 10th overall.
However, the two lap, 60 kilometre cross-country tomorrow should completely reshuffle these standings.
- Bruckner hadn't said anything, but after the race it became apparent that she was in some physical discomfort, with a huge bone spur on one foot that forced her to cut a hole in her shoe to get it on.
- Manon calls herself "a 35 year old rookie." The former triathlete only started bike racing 3 years ago, and missed a good portion of last year recovering from a broken pelvis. She contrasted the styles of Rona-Esker and Saturn: "They are two different ways of racing - Rona has a great leader in Genevieve, and other riders support her. Saturn has great diversity - sprinters, climbers and GC riders. I see myself as a team player - where ever the team needs me I will be there."
- As we mentioned earlier, Lyne Bessette will be racing the cross-country tomorrow. the only restriction that the organizers put on her before allowing her to join the stage off road race? "Don't win" Bessette will leave shortly after the race for Europe.
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