Posted by Editor on 03/17/02
Redlands Team Reports
The most popular stage with the citizens of Redlands was a crowd thriller today. Held on the downtown streets, the tight nine corner, highly technical course did not provide much opportunity for a change in the overall race lead, but it did bring ample opportunity to showcase the excitement of bicycle racing to the folks in the city of Redlands.
The women's race was controlled by the Saturn Team from the gun. Keeping the pace high so that race leader Judith Arndt was comfortable, kept the attacks from other teams to a minimum. In fact, there was only two breaks of note, both short lived. In the end, the seemingly inevitable field sprint brought Nicole Freedman across the line with the second Rona Team victory of the Tour. Diet Rite's Tina Mayolo finished in second ahead of Mexico's Belem Guererro. Saturn's Lyne Bessette was fourth, and race leader Arndt finished in seventh, still 7:37 over her major threat to the lead, Genevieve Jeanson.
The men's race was aggressive, with many teams looking for opportunities to launch a break that would force race leader Chris Horner's Prime Alliance to give chase. Once again proving their cohesive determination, Horner's team continuously brought any threats to Horner's Yellow Jersey back almost immediately. With ten laps to go in the ninety minute race, it was clear a field sprint was on the board, and the teams with sprinters came to the fore. However, in the last corner, it was Charles Dionne (7-Up) jumping hard for the honor of a win at Redlands over Mercury's Gord Fraser. Dionne's excitement at his impressive win at only 21 was clear to the crowd as both he and his 7-Up teammates punched the air in victory as he crossed the line. Team Dare's Miguel Meza was third. The overall classification was slightly effected, as a 13 second time gap formed in the final sprint, giving Saturn's Soren Petersen and Trent Klasna some time back and bringing them within a minute of Horner.
Nicole Freedman's parents were in Redlands today to watch her race. So Team RONA's Freedman did the only decent thing a daughter could do - she won. Freedman showed why she is the US criterium champion and beat Tina Mayolo-Pic (USA, Diet Rite) and Mexican Belem Guererro (AC Mexiquence) in an exciting sprint.
Nicole's teammate, Geneviève Jeanson, came in sixth, in a stage which didn't impact general classification. The GC leader, Judith Arndt (GER, Saturn Timex) finished 7th and Lyne Bessette (CAN, Saturn Timex) 4th. RONA still leads the Team general classification, followed by Saturn Timex and Cannondale-USA.
Right from the start, and for most of the race, the Saturn Timex squad set a fast pace to prevent any breakaway. So no serious break did develop, as the race progressed. Saturn's powerful sprinter Ina Teutenberg did try to break away, but was reeled in by the RONAs.
When the last lap created some action as a group of 7 or 8 girls tried to distance the peloton. Freedman missed it, so her teammate Jeanson brought her back to the front of the pack. It turned out to be a massive sprint and Nicole Freedman edged her way through traffic to cross the finish line in front.
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