Posted by Editoress on 06/2/05
Tour du Grand Montreal
By Leigh Hargrove
Photos by Andrea Brewer
Stage Four: Terrebonne Road Race, 80km
Wednesday's stage, an 80km circuit race, took riders around a ten km loop with one major climb. Local rider and recent World Cup winner, Geneviève Jeanson (ACDA-RONA) was in the yellow jersey, and looking forward to the day's race.
The first two laps were quiet. However, QOM points were on the line during the third lap and that's when Quark's Annette Beutler initiated a sprint up the climb. Canadian Erinne Willock (Webcor) was one of three other riders that responded.
Quick to follow suit was Team S.A.T.S rider Dorte Lahse Rasmussen and second placed rider on GC, Oenone Wood (Nurnberger Versicherung). Wood saw the potential right away. "She (Beutler) was going for the mountain sprints, so I just followed her. Then we got a gap and we started racing. She's obviously a really good climber, she's got good legs today."
Subway rider Melissa Sanborn was in the field when the break got away. "At first Rona was chasing hard. They were in trouble because Geneviève (Jeanson) was losing ground and so they really used up their riders trying to bring someone across. Everybody was pretty happy to let it go, there was nothing you could do."
The break did get away, and stayed away. Jeanson was unable to close the gap, and most of the major teams, except Nobili Rubinetterie, had teams up the road.
Throughout the event there was a confused caravan full of team directors that were complexed after a caravan race announcement was made during the first lap that was in total conflict with the race bible information.
One of the break riders, Rasmussen, was after time bonuses. "I thought I won the two of them, but now they said we were sprinting on the wrong laps. They said something on the radio tour and something else on the loud speaker, so we don't really know."
Wood agreed that something was definitely array. "There was a lot of confusion today about when and where the sprints were happening. In a race like this it is going to come down to seconds, so they are important."
There was a mistake made on the caravan radio that misinformed team directors of the sprint laps. Although the radio announcement was wrong, the sprints still took place according to what was stated in the race bible.
The time bonuses were important but the break riders didn't let it affect their overall attempt to stay away. The four riders worked well together. Willock was excited about the cohesion of this particular group. "Oenone, Annette, Dorte, - everybody wanted to work. Everybody was working really well together, everybody, the whole day. We gained a lot of time!"
As a result, the break did stay away, and Willock was up for the sprint finish that would ultimately follow. "I was on Oenone's wheel, and then Annette jumped on the right side right at the corner, just on the corner, and she got into the corner first. I didn't get on her wheel - I was stuck to Oenone's. Thinking ok, Oenone, Oenone! We just went to the gate, and there was no room to sprint. Dorte was on my inside and I just had nowhere to go! Almost had to de-accelerate, and then get back on." Willock's strategy might have worked -had Beutler not attacked when she did; Wood had been winning sprints all week after all. "It was a great sprint because I'm not a sprinter!"
Just under four minutes down, the pack came charging in shortly after the sprint finish for the break riders. Subway rider, Melissa Sanborn, made an attack during the final kilometer of the race in order to win the field sprint. "It got pretty fast after the descent, and on the left turn into town. I knew with three km to go it would be pretty hard to move up so I just picked a wheel. My goal was just to stay at the front. Then I saw the 1km sign and I decided I'm going to go now!" The American rider held on and took the sprint for fifth place.
Wood, moved into the yellow jersey after the stage, and expects an exciting race for the final stage. "It's only ten seconds between myself and Annette now. So it's going to be a hard race tomorrow, I suspect."
- Diet Cheerwine rider Julie Bélanger had a flat tire at the end of the first lap. She was given a quick wheel change and a teammate hung back to wheel her back up to the group. They were successful.
-Lisa Sweeney (Ellicycle Sport expert Louis Garneau) earned some QOM points when she attacked the main field on the fourth lap, taking the pack sprint.
-Team Québec was very active during the second half of the race, sending their riders off the front of the pack and urging the pace along. Stéphanie Barbeau had a significant attack up the hill on the fifth lap, putting her in front of the pack for a quarter of a lap.
-Biovail's Jennifer Stephenson launched an attack during the seventh lap alongside Subway rider Susan Weldon. The pack reacted quickly however and brought the field back together again.
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