August 26/00 8:24 am - GP Feminin & Raid Pierre Harvey Stories
Posted by Editor on 08/26/00
Grand Prix Feminin International du Quebec
Sarah Symington (British National) has managed to hold onto the leader's jersey for another stage at the Grand Prix Feminin, after Tracey Gaudry (Timex-Autotrader) won the fourth stage time trial earlier today. Lyne Bessette (Canadian National), yesterday's winner, lost some of the ground she had made up on Symington with a 6th place performance in the 19.1 kilometre individual event, dropping her to 4th overall, 37 seconds in arrears. "I am surprised to still be in the jersey, but I intend to do all that I can to defend it." said Symington.
Behind Gaudry, it was another British rider - 20 year old Ceris Gilfillan, who's result moved her into second, 5 seconds behind her team mate. Jeannie Longo (Bermuda/France) was third in the stage, and moved into third overall, only 11 seconds out of the lead. Longo admitted that her solo efferts yesterday may have hurt today's performance. I was a bit tired because yesterday's stage was very difficult."
After a criterium Saturday evening - which is expected to have little effect on the general classification - the race will come down to tough road race, finishing with a long climb towards Mont Sutton. "The win will be played out in the last stage. The final selection will be determined in the long climb towards Mont Sutton. We will need to attack the Brits and watch out for Jeannie Longo", concluded Bessette.
Oryx Dominates Raid Pierre Harvey on Day 2
The Oryx team has shown that they are the experts when it comes to the Raid Pierre Harvey, winning both the men's and women's categories on the second stage of this gruelling 3 day offroad race. Bill Hurley and Marie-Helene Premont took the stage for Oryx, while team mate Eric Tourville jumped into the overall men's lead after yesterday's winner Matt Decore (Marin) flatted with 18 kilometres to go. Women's leader Trish Sinclair (Marin) finished second to Premont today, but still has a comfortable 3:20 gap as the riders rest up for tomorrow's final stage.
Yesterday's stage may have been longer, at 107 kilometres, but today was tougher, with the constant climbing and descending leading Andreas Hestler (Ford-Devinci) to proclaim "this race is sick, it's just sick."
After a short section of wet and muddy single track, the lead group of approximately 40 settled down to put some steady mileage in on an undulating gravel road. Approximately a third of the way into the stage, Hurley rolled off the front, taking Mathieu Toulouse (Ford-Devinci) and Jean-Francois Robert (OGC-Gary Fisher) with him. The trio reached a maximum gap of about 3 minutes, before the chase group began reeling them in. The chasers slimmed down to a core group of elite riders, including Tourville, Hestler, Decore and Belgian Jurgen van den Driessche (GT-Benelux), over to try and pick up some valuable UCI ranking points in the Raid (a D2 sanction - one of only 4 in North America).
With about 18 kilometres to go, the break was all but over - Robert had been caught, and Hurley and Toulouse were dangling just a few seconds in front. But the duo dug deeper and opened up the gap again. At that very point Decore flatted, and would be forced to ride solo into the headwind for the remainder of the stage, as he saw the jersey disappearing up the trail.
Hurley dropped a fading Toulouse on the final climb (6 kilometres to go), and Tourville punched it in the same spot, taking van den Driessche with him. "This is where Eric's knowledge of the course helped", commented first timer Hestler. "If I had know that it was the last climb, and mainly downhill afterwards, I might have been able to hang on." However, he didn't, and Tourville came within 2 seconds of making it a 1-2 finish for Oryx.
In the women's race, Premont and Sinclair - the defending champion - rode together until that fateful final climb, when Premont managed to gap her rival at the top and then hang on to win by about 40 seconds. "I knew I was strong on the climbs today and, even though I did not know the course, I could see by my watch that we should be getting close to the end, so I attacked." stated Premont afterwards. "I could tell that Marie-Helene was stronger today, and she could have maybe got away even earlier. When she went, I just tried to pace myself and limit the damage." explained Sinclair.