March 23/01 9:22 am - Sea Otter Road Stage 3 Story
Posted by Editor on 03/23/01
Saturn took control today, in the third stage of the road portion of Sea Otter, with overall race leader Anna Millward taking her second stage win in the women's race, and Harm Jansen and Trent Klasna riding away from the men's field to place 1-2. The time difference in the men's race was great enough to put Klasna ahead of U.S. Postal's Levi Leipheimer in the overall standings.
The Fort Ord stage takes the riders through the Laguna Seca Speedway and out into the old military base of Fort Ord - now managed by various conservation authorities. The rolling circuit is 21 miles (33.7 kilometres) in length, with a 4 kilometre climb before the riders re-enter the Speedway for the finish. The entry to the circuit is fairly extreme, with two 180 off-camber turns and gravel. The men did 5 circuits, the women 3.
The women raced a race of attrition, with almost everyone intimidated by the strong Saturn presence. About the only one who wasn't, was Autotrader.com's Kim Smith, who attacked repeatedly, only to be brought back by Saturn. Up the climb the peloton was whittled down until there was only 6 left for the final sprint. It was won, predictably enough, by the unstoppable Australian. While the others did sprint, no one was strong enough to come around her.
The men's race turned the classification upside down, with a bold move by Klasna succeeding partially because of inter-squad brinkmanship between the Posties and Mercury. Klasna attacked just after the riders passed under the start/finish with 2 laps to go. "The racing was so negative that I attacked. I was hoping that someone would come up, but then I got 2 minutes. I heard that Harm was in the chase group so I waited for him to come up. The goal was just to be up front for the group coming across, but fortunately no one ever did."
Once Jansen did arrive the duo yo-yoed between 30 seconds and 2 minutes in front for the next lap, before an exhausted Leipheimer finally threw in the towel. "We tried everything we could, but on the last lap I was isolated, everyone in the group was waiting for me. They (Mercury) threw the race away, it was very frustrating. I had to watch 4 Mercury's on my own, so I couldn't do anything."
Klasna rolled across the line behind his team mate ("Harm deserved the win after all the work he did for me"), approximately 2:20 ahead another Saturn rider solo in third - Soren Petersen - and over 4 minutes ahead of Leipheimer and Chris Horner (Mercury).
- There are almost no photos in existence of Millward's win. The reason? The organizers neglected to inform the media that both the men's and women's races had been shortened by a lap. So, everyone showed up at the finish line to hear after the fact that Millward had won. In the same fashion, there are still no results for stage 3 (and no guess as to when we will receive them). The organizational problems are particularly noticable after the quality fo Redlands a week earlier.
- The Fort ord area is dotted with areas fenced off behind barbed wire. The base was used for ordnance testing, and is full of unexploded shells. Everyone is very careful to keep outside of these sections...