Posted by Editor on 09/29/03
Germany's Judith Arndt won the Grand Prix Feminin International du Canada on Sunday, despite a strong challenge mounted by Nataliya Kachalka of the Ukraine on the final stage. Kachalka won the final 93 kilometre circuit race around the town of Jonquiere, and displaced Canadian Lyne Bessette of Knowlton, Quebec for second place in the overall standings by one second. Montreal's Manon Jutras was the top Canadian in the stage, finishing fourth, seven seconds behind Kachalka.
Arndt started the final stage with a one minute and 35 second lead over Bessette, but struggled in the cold rain and wind on the steep climb which the riders had to ascend 11 times.
"I had a really bad day today, but the team brought me back. Otherwise I think that I would have lost the jersey." said Arndt. "I don't like the rain so much and, yes, maybe I am still a little tired after the time trial (on Saturday, when she decimated the competition). Every lap on the climb I struggled, and when others see you are struggling, they go harder."
"It was also bad that we did not know that the Ukraine rider (Kachalka) was in the break to start, but our coach told us over the radio. At that point the break was over 3 minutes (ahead), so we started to chase hard on the last lap."
The Canadian National Team were the main aggressors during the race, first with Erinne Willock on two separate attacks, and followed by Jutras, who was one of the instigators of the race winning breakaway which developed with 25 kilometres remaining in the race. Kachalka was also a member of the five rider group, and the two minute and 11 second gap the leaders had gained by the finish was enough to vault her into second place, when combined with the 10 second bonus she received for the stage win.
Kachalka had hoped to do something during the stage, but did not anticipate that her move would be so successful, and admitted that she had no idea that she could potentially challenge Arndt for the overall.
"Of course, we always try, but this was not planned. First Rasa (Polikeviciute) went, and then the Canadian (Jutras). I went across with the German (Karen Bockel), because it was a very strong attack by Rasa. Everyone was working in the group, so we were able to go fast. This was unexpected, and i am pleased to ride so well before Hamilton."
Bessette, who was using the race as final preparation for the World Championships in Hamilton, was disappointed to lose second, but remained pleased overall with her performance.
"For me, the overall wasn't as important as having a good hard race. Of course, I did not want to lose second, but this race was all about hard training for me. The Ukrainian girl did an excellent ride and deserves the placing. Personally, I am pleased with how the whole Canadian team rode, and how much this will help us get ready for Hamilton."
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