Posted by Editoress on 08/15/08
All reports supplied by TransRockies, all photos by Dan Hudson and are courtesy TransRockies.
Day 5 (August 14th): Whiteswan Lake toElkford: 88.5km/2247m climbing
It was a day of battles on the TransRockies trail, as a blazing sun and a slew of mechanical failures added an extra element of challenge to the day's grind.
In the prolific Open Men's category, the impressive Italian duo of Marzio Deho and Johnny Cattaneo, who nabbed three 1st place finishes in the first four days of racing, managed to hang on to the overall lead after suffering five flats and a broken chain in Stage 5. Though placing 5th in today's stage, Deho and Cattaneo have a 10 minute lead in the overall standings ahead of Kris Sneddon and Max Plaxton of Canada, who have been persistently nipping at the heels of their heels all week.
Sneddon and Plaxton grabbed their first top finish of TransRockies VII today, after placing lower on the podium throughout most of the week, securing the second place overall lead and no doubt fueling their thirst for first with only two stages left. Rounding out the top five in the overall standings are Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski (CAN) in third place, Andreas Hestler and Chris Sheppard (CAN) in fourth, and Keith Hickerson and Evan Plews (USA) in fifth.
Observers this year have noticed the increased competition and excitement in the Open Men's category, which has grown from a typical field of four or five competitive teams in previous years to a fierce and ambitious posse of eight to ten pairs all duking it out for final prize money. Deho and Cattaneo had best put some extra padding in their lead during Stage 6, or top spot could be up for grabs come Saturday's final leg.
American's Carey Lowery and Lisa Randall have been riding away with the top Open Women's spot all week, with a sweep of five straight 1st place finishes. As of the close of Stage 5, the pair has put nearly two hours of lead time between themselves and 2nd place team Amy Guidinger and Meghan Osborne of Canada. Guidinger and Osborne have taken 2nd place every day thus far, and themselves maintain a hefty nearly-two-hour lead over 3rd place Canadian pair Angie Bryans and Inga Ivany in the overall standings.
Consistently rounding out the top five are Teri Majer and Shelley Mattson (CAN) and Allison Greer and Julia Lovecchio (CAN).
A similar story is unfolding in the Open Mixed category, in which the top two spots appear to be locked up, while the third remains up for grabs with two stages to go.
Defending champions and husband-and-wife Normon Thibault and Wendy Simms (CAN) don't appear to be handing their title over this year, with 47 minutes of lead time between themselves and 2nd place pair Steven Wallace and Katerina Nash (USA/CZE), though with two big days ahead anything is possible. David Harris and Lynda Wallenfels (USA) are currently sitting in 3rd place overall with a 12 minute advantage over 4th place.
The remaining top ten teams in Open Mixed are within an hour of each other, and 3rd through 5th place are mere minutes apart. With such a close field, there's little doubt teams in the top ten plan to cruise through the final stages Ã‹â€ more likely it will be a grind to the finish for anyone wanting a piece of the $20,000 in prize money up for grabs.
With only two stages to go, it's still not clear who will go home with a podium victory at TransRockies VII. Of all categories, 80+ Men appears to be the most volatile, with top finishes from four different teams in only five days.
Stage 5 podium placers Milan Spolc and Jan Kopka (CZE) took first place in today's leg and currently sit in 2nd place overall; Jon Gould and Ryon Butterfield (USA) landed 2nd place in Stage 5 but currently hold the overall lead with a five minute lead on Spolc and Kopka. Today's 3rd place finishers Oyvind Vaaglan Reiten and Olav N Birkeland (NOR) also sit in third place in the overall standings, 17 minutes behind 2nd place.
With all top five overall teams within a half hour of one another it's likely the title for 80+ Men won't be decided until Stage 7.
After several days of podium placings being dealt between many teams it appears that one team has taken a clear lead in the 80+ Mixed category. With three straight 1st place finishes in the last three days, Moira-Ann Handford and Andrew Handford (CAN) have cushioned their overall lead by well over an hour, ahead of 2nd place overall team Dan McCarthy and Amy Kemper (USA). Sitting in 3rd place overall, Christiane Bouchard and Marc Payment (CAN) are a little more than two hours behind the leaders.
Stage 5 winners are Handford and Handford with 1st place, Bouchard and Payment with 2nd place, and Kirk Buckman and Cindy Carroll with 3rd place.
100+ OPEN GENDER
After an impressive four days of 1st place finishes, an injury has ripped potential victory from Americans Howard Jones and Jon Roberts. The team was unable to complete Stage 5 and are no longer qualified for podium placement. A harsh reality for Jones and Roberts but a wide open opportunity for Canadians Les Davidson and Tim Hudema, who slid from an across-the-board 2nd place domination to fill up the top spot left empty by the injured leaders.
Also impressive is the performance of Stage 5 winners Pierre Loubser and Ben Cronje of Russia, who went from averaging 5th place this week to win today's race with 15 minutes to spare. They are sitting pretty in 2nd place overall, roughly an hour behind the leaders and an hour ahead of 3rd place team Jeff Bandura and Bart Nakano (CAN).
Rounding out the top five are Gary Pelletier and Dale McAllister (CAN) in 4th place, and Mike Meagher and Garry Froehler (CAN) in the 5th spot.
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