Canadian Cyclist


June 10/04 9:03 am - Nature Valley Grand Prix

Posted by Editoress on 06/10/04

Nature Valley Grand Prix Virginia, MN
Report courtesy Giana Roberge

Bessette bests a strong field.

The women's segment of the Nature Valley Grand Prix kicked off today in Virginia, MN. Throughout the years, race promoter David LaPorte's hard work has grown the women's field from 40 women in the early years to 110 in the 2004 edition. The 5 day race is also the second stop on the Women's Prestige Cycling Series, a four race series held exclusively for women to highlight and focus only on women's racing. Quark's Lyne Bessette was not only the current leader of the WPCS, but also considered a favorite here at Nature Valley.

The first stage was an individual 5.4 mile effort against the clock. Held on the Masabi Bike Trail, the race brought attention to the longest bike trail in the US. The Masabi Trail runs from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Boundary Waters of Canada. The small portion of trail that was the first stage was a very fun, technical course, with some rolling terrain and tight turns. A light tail wind helped keep the overall speeds high, with the winner averaging 28 mph.

Early on it was Katrina Grove taking the lead with a time of 11:26:06. For a while, Grove's time was unshakeable, and she looked like she would hold on for the win. However, last rider off was Quark's Bessette, second on the same course last year. As she came into site at the finish, it was clear Grove and Bessette's time would be close - but who would be the victor? In the end it was Bessette by 2.5 seconds with a winning time of 11:23:90.

Bessette's win puts her in the leader's jersey for tomorrow's 80 mile Iron Mountain Stage. Her strong Quark Team will be her most valuable asset, but with Rona's Grove only seconds out of the jersey, the 1:15 of time bonuses will make the race very aggressive.

Mesabi Trail Time Trial, 5.4 miles
1. Lyne Bessette (Can) Quark, 11:23:90
2. Katrina Grove (USA) Rona, 11:26:06
3. Lynn Gaggiolli (USA) T-Mobile, 11:28:98
4. Sandy Espeseth (Can) Victory Brewing
5. Jeannie Longo (Fra) Nature Valley/Penn Cycle


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