Canadian Cyclist


August 7/98 9:25 am - Correction, More Tour of Rockies

Posted by Editor on 08/7/98


As a number of you pointed out, yesterday I said that the Track Worlds were to be held in Manchester, England, which is incorrect. The Track Worlds are actually going to be in Bordeaux, France. (It is the Masters World Track Championships that are going to be in Manchester, England, in September)

That will teach me to not pay attention....

More Mercury Tour Stage 1 News
(courtesy Mercury Tour press office)

Steamboat Springs, Colo. - With the 1998 Mercury Tour, presented by Outdoor Life Network, now underway, the riders today (August 6th) faced perhaps the most demanding stage of this five-day event, the Continental Divide Cross Country. Alison Sydor (Volvo-Cannondale) and Rob Woods (Australian National Team) conquered both the epic Colorado backcountry and fellow competitors to stand atop the podium today.

Starting at an altitude of 9600 feet, the course traversed the Continental Divide for nearly 14 miles to Storm Peak, at the top of the Steamboat Mountain Resort, and an altitude of 10,372. Once the riders reached Storm Peak, they descended more than twelve miles to the Steamboat base, at an altitude of 6900 feet, and the finish.

The men went off first this morning at 9 a.m. from the top of Rabbit Ears Pass, and after four miles of dirt road, the riders turned onto the Continental Divide Trail. A group of nine riders gained an advantage over the rest of the field through the technical, narrow single-track, and over the rocks and roots, before the lead rider in this pack, Roland Green (Mapei-Kona) of Canada reportedly led the group onto the wrong trail. Once it was discovered that this lead group of riders had gone astray, including race favorites such as Pavel Tcherkassov (Diamondback Racing), defending champion Jerome Chiotti (Team GT), and Americans Steve Larsen (Schwinn-Toyota) and Travis Brown (Trek-VW), some turned around, while others attempted to cut through the forest to reach the proper trail. The bad fortune of this group of riders turned to good fortune for Rob Woods and Matt Wallace of the Australian National Team, as they made the correct turn, and found out, much to their surprise, that they were the race leaders. Needless to say, the riders who strayed off course lost substantial time, and will have to try to make up for it in tomorrow‚s Stage 2. Chiotti made the most of a bad situation, turning around and getting quickly back on course with Tcherkassov to finish third and fourth on the day. Following them in fifth was America‚s top finisher Rishi Grewal (Klein), who had no trouble negotiating the trail, and was able to capitalize on the other rider‚s lost time.

The women‚s race, although clear of any controversy, was no less exciting, as Alison Sydor moved to the front of the pack early, and opened up a commanding lead over teammate Alla Epifanova of Russia, Ruthie Matthes (Powerbar) of Durango, Colo., and Jimena Florit-Juarez (Headshok). While Sydor held a solid margin over Epifanova, Matthes was quickly gaining on the Russian, and made up half of her thirty second deficit on the final downhill. It was not enough to catch Epifanova, but every second counts in a multi-day event such as this. Following in fifth, was Rene Marshman (Moots) of Boulder, Colo.

Tomorrow‚s Stage Two is the much anticipated Mt. Werner Hillclimb, which starts in Lincoln Park, near downtown Steamboat Springs at an elevation of 6,795 feet, and climbs past the base of the mountain, past the top of the gondola, to the top of Storm Peak at a final elevation of 10,568, in a distance of only thirteen miles. Last year, this stage crushed many top riders with heat stroke, fatigue, and exhaustion. This stage may decide the overall race winner.

Outdoor Life Network will feature nine hours of original programming with in- depth coverage of every stage, beginning August 6 at 7 p.m. MDT for the men‚s competition, and August 13 for the women‚s competition. Locally, TCI-TV10 in Steamboat Springs will air eight free hours of the racing action to their subscribers. Men‚s coverage begins on Friday, August 7, at 7 p.m. MDT. Women‚s race coverage starts the following weekend on Thursday, August 13 at 11:30 p.m. MDT.


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