Canadian Cyclist


June 18/11 10:54 am - Nature Valley Grand Prix: Women Stage 4

Posted by Editoress on 06/18/11

Crash Nullifies Uptown Minneapolis Criterium; Defending Champion Olds Out

Defending champion Shelley Olds (Diadora-Pasta Zara-Manhattan) was knocked out of the Nature Valley Grand Prix Friday night when a huge crash on the penultimate lap forced race officials to stop the Uptown Minneapolis Criterium and eventually nullify the stage.

Race leader Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) was among the 39 riders who went down in the crash on the finishing straight. Four of them had injuries serious enough to require transport to a local hospital: Olds (rib injuries), Laura Ralston (facial lacerations, possible broken collarbone), Robin Bauer (separated shoulder) and Hillary Billington (extent of injuries unknown). None will start Stage 5.

Teammates gathered around Armstrong after she was helped to the side of the road by a race medic. The yellow jersey wearer cut her elbow and suffered a bruise on her back.

"Kristin’s pretty banged up,” Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 Director Nicola Cranmer said. “She was at the bottom of the pile, so she had a lot of riders on top of her. Her spirits are good, but it was a shock to her system. It's obvious she's uncomfortable."

After the crash, officials and medical personnel tried to clear the road in hopes of allowing for a final sprint. But as the lead motorcycle rounded the final corner, fallen riders were still being attended to and the race was stopped.

”Our initial thought was to restart the race with five to go and try to get the it back up to speed,“ Chief Judge Dot Abbott said. ”But with the injuries we had, it was pretty upsetting for everybody so we decided to cancel the stage and nullify all of the points and the time bonuses, as though today’s race didn’t happen."

Until the crash, Olds had animated the race, being part of a five-rider break, along with Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12), Leah Kirchmann (Colavita Forno D'Asolo presented by Cooking Light), Amanda Miller (HTC-Highroad), and Joelle Numainville (Team TIBCO/To The Top). Wearing the Freewheel Bikes Most Aggressive jersey, Olds captured six sprint points and three seconds in time bonuses.

Cranmer said despite her injuries, Armstrong and her team are up to the challenge of defending the race lead for two more days. First up, a hilly, 81-mile road race that begins and ends in Menomonie.

"I think the team has rallied around her," Cranmer said. "They're pretty fired up about protecting the jersey. Obviously it will be a challenge."

Report courtesy NVGP


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