Posted by Editor on 09/27/03
Judith Arndt of Germany maintained her overall lead in the Grand Prix International du Canada after the second stage was completed on Friday, with Lyne Bessette (Team Canada) remaining the top Canadian rider in fourth place, 16 seconds behind. Tina Mayolo-Pic (Genesis-Scuba) won the stage in a sprint finish among the top contenders.
Friday's stage, a 110 kilometre race around a 15 kilometre loop (7 laps) near the small town of La Baie, on an tidal estuary to the St Lawrence River, was expected to be a tough race, as Bessette and her team mates tried to put the pressure on the German squad. There was a small bobble in the race at the end of the first lap when the lead vehicles and the riders went left onto the finishing straight, rather than right (back on the circuit). The race was halted and restarted without any real effect, since the field was all still together at that point.
Bessette is using the GP Feminin for training to prepare for the Road World Championships in Hamilton, Ontario in two weeks time. She and the other riders in Team Canada were the most aggressive rider during the stage, constantly attacking on the climbs. At the 80 kilometre mark, a group of 11 riders broke away from the main field, including Bessette, her team mate Amy Moore, Arndt and Mayolo-Pic. Despite repeated attacks by both Bessette and Arndt on the final climb, the group remained together to contest the sprint, which was easily won by Mayolo-Pic.
"I tried to get away from Judith (Arndt)" explained Bessette, "but she is really strong right now. Our team plan was to make it aggressive, and Amy and I did that at the front until it (the field) blew apart. I tried again at the last climb, but everyone was watching too close. Despite that, I am very pleased with my race, and I think that I can take back the time from Judith in the time trial tomorrow."
Arndt, for her part, admitted that she came close to cracking a couple of times on the climb, but was able to recover and finished second in the sprint to pick up more time bonuses.
"Once or twice the hill was not so bad, but seven times was very hard, and I had some difficulty. The Canadians were very strong, and I was glad that I had my team mate with in the break."
Today (Saturday) is a double stage day, with the time trial in the morning in Herbertville, and a criterium in downtown Alma in the afternoon (on the 1.1 kilometre Prologue circuit). With the top ten riders still only separated by a maximum of 45 seconds, this time trial is expected to give us a look at what the final general classification will be.
The time trial is 22.9 kilometres long - exactly the same distance as the Worlds time trial, and many riders are using it to gauge their fitness. Besides the race for the Leader's Jersey, it should interesting to see how Canadian juniors Emilie Roy and Audrey Lemieux do against each other. Lemieux starts 1 minute behind Roy, and beat her rival by 52 seconds at the Nationals. However, Roy has also beaten Lemieux a couple of times this season.
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