Posted by Editor on 03/4/98
CANADA DAY IN REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA!! by Ed Schum
Alison Sydor and Gord Fraser the winners of today's Highland Circuit Race.
Alison seems to own this three mile long course, with its short but steep hill to the finish line, since she has won it three times before. All through the race she rode at the front looking strong, and she appeared to have things under control, winning sprints for team points in laps 3 and 9 easily. So it was to no oneÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s surprise when on the final lap, with about two hundred yards to go, she pulled away from the competition and rode over the line with her arms raised in victory. This Alison Sydor looks fitter and more detemined than she has in previous years, and I would not be surprised to see her go all the way again in the cross country world championships. For both herself and her team, this race is mainly a major tuneup for the upcoming mountain bike season. The team has no great expectations for overall G.C. placing. Will this change now that Alison is the race leader? This question will likely be answered in tomorrow's individual time trial. While Alison does not consider herself an 'awesome time trialist', this young woman looks strong and focused and will not give anything away without giving it her very best. I would not place any bets against her.
All the other Canadian women rode strongly, with only Kirsten Kotval of Vancouver losing contact with the pack and coming in with a group several minutes behind the leaders. Everyone else was right in the thick of things throughout the race and most of them are still in contention for G.C.
The men's race covered 19 laps on the same course. Mountain biker Andreas Hestler had the misfortune of flatting in the very first lap and found out that on this course 'getting back on' is extremely difficult. Especially when there is constant attacking going on, and the pack is going with more than 80 k/h around the sharp turns on the downhill and hammering it up the 700m long 8% hill to the start and finish line. In spite of his great effort, Andreas kept losing ground and was eventually lapped. Unfortunately two other strong Canadian riders experienced the same fate. Roland Green, after riding near the front and being involved in several attacks, flatted right at the start/finish with 9 laps to go. He got a very slow wheel change and, after actually gaining some ground on the pack for a while, had to finally give up the chase to avoid bonking. Similar fate for Tim Hadfield, only he was forced off the road by another rider causing a broken spoke and a badly bent rim.
No such bad luck for Gordon Fraser. Riding for a very strong Mercury team, with veterans Thurlow Rogers and Roy Knickman, Gordon and his team seemed the controlling force throughout the race. Whenever there was a breakaway at least one Mercury rider was in it, and if any chasing needed to be done, one could see at least four Mercurys in the top ten, riding tempo. After all the breaks were neutralized and a pack of about 90 riders came up the steep hill to the finish it was Fraser who came up on Trent Klasna's (Navigators) wheel and got around him to take the victory. Third across the line was Derek Bouchard-Hall of Shaklee. Canadian riders, other than the ones mentioned above, finished close enough to the leaders to still have a chance for good G.C. placings.
This was a fantastic race to watch. It was the first time I've seen 220 riders in one pack in a road race in North America. Overall the quality of racing and racers was excellent. Constant attacking, fine team work and great bike handling, proven by the fact that there were no crashes of any consequence. Perhaps there is a future for road racing in North America after all.
Stage 1 - San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino Highland Circuit Race
1. Gord Fraser Can (Mercury) 1:52:51
2. Trent Klasna USA (Navigators)
3. Derek Bouchard-Hall (Shaklee) s.t.
1. Fraser 1:52:50
2. Klasna at 0:05
3. Bouchard-Hall 0:09
4. Yannick Cojan CAN (TCP) 0:15
1. Alison Sydor CAN (Volvo-Cannondale) 1:40:26
2. Karen Kurreck USA (Saturn)
3. Susy Prdye NZ (Saeco-Timex)
7. Sue Palmer CAN (Haro)
11. Lesley Tomlinson CAN (Healthsouth/Mrs TÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s)
12. Leigh Hobson CAN (Shaklee)
13. Chrissy Redden CAN (Spice)
17. Linda Jackson CAN (Saeco-Timex)
19. Clara Hughes CAN (Saturn)
22. Melanie Dorion CAN (Elita) all s.t.
1. Sydor 1:40:26
2. Kurreck at 0:05
3. Pryde 0:11
10. Mandy Poitras CAN (Escape Velocity) 0:15
17. Kim Langton CAN (Elita)
23. Melanie McQuaid CAN (Spice) all s.t.
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