Posted by Editoress on 08/26/01
Grand Prix Feminin International du Quebec - Stage 6
AutoTrader.com's Amber Neben won the final stage of the Grand Prix International du Quebec in picture perfect fashion as she crossed the finish line solo. The 90.3 kilometer road race contained 2 major climbs, both located near the finish. However, within the first 10 kilometers of the race, Neben attacked the field and established a significant gap.
Shortly thereafter, Melissa Holt (Rona) and Nicole Cooke bridged the gap and the three became the break that would stay away for nearly 80 km. Saturn's Clara Hughes attempt to cross to the break was denied after 50 kilometers of chasing. The three remained fluent until 20 km to go. Neben put the hammer down at the first of the two major climbs and demonstrated her climbing finesse. She finished the remaining 20 kilometers alone and crossed the finish line almost 2 minutes ahead of the 2nd placed rider, Rachel Heal of Great Britain. Lyne Bessette finished 3rd, 3 minutes behind Neben.
Pia Sundstedt (FIN, Intersports) sealed her victory today, conceding only eight seconds to Lyne Bessette (CAN, Saturn Timex) in the sixth and final stage, which ended with a grueling climb up Mount Sutton.
Amber Neben (USA, Autotrader.com) won today's stage after an 80-km breakaway to the foot of the final climb alongside Brit Rachel Heal (GBR Nationals) and New Zealander Melissa Holt (RONA). Heal crossed the finish line second, but Holt couldn't maintain her pace in the final six kilometers and ended up in 14th place, 4'19" after Neben.
Manon Jutras (CAN, RONA) and her teammates gave an excellent performance in the absence of their leader, Geneviève Jeanson, who abandoned the race before the fourth stage because of an injury. Jutras finished eighth today, 3'41" after Neben, which put her in ninth place in the general standings.
Besides placing third in the final podium, Lyne Bessette also won the green sprinter's jersey, while Brit Nicole Cooke was awarded both the yellow Best Young Rider (under 23) jersey and the white climber's jersey.
Fifth stage play-by-play: Saturday night
Saturday night the cyclists were competing in a 40-km criterium through the streets of Cowansville. The race was edgy and fast from start to finish. After a few fruitless attempts at breakaways, a group of four cyclists managed to slip ahead from the pack, which was slowly being drawn out, and make it to the finish line 18" before the pack: Petra Rossner (GER, Saturn Timex), Nicole Cooke (GBR, GBR Nationals), Julie Young (USA, Autotrader.com) and Melissa Holt (NZL, RONA).
Mélanie Nadeau (CAN, RONA) and Raphaële Lemieux (CAN, RONA) were among the first of the pack to arrive, finishing ninth and 10th respectively to put three RONAs in the top ten spots.
Sixth stage play-by-play: today
Today's stage saw the women race 90 km around Sutton on a challenging course that ended at the peak of Mount Sutton, after a 6-km climb.
Amber Neben declared war in the tenth kilometer when she broke ahead alone. Several other women gave chase. Rachel Heal and Melissa Holt moved ahead of the pack and kept Neben in their sights until they finally bridged the gap, and then the threesome made a cleaner break. The gap increased quickly. The pack did not react as a whole, but the three frontrunners were chased by Clara Hughes (CAN, Saturn Timex) and Nicole Freedman (USA, Crédit Suisse First Boston).
After 60 kilometers, 50 of them in breakaway mode, the trio was two full minutes ahead of its pair of pursuers and 4'30" ahead of the rest of the pack. Then, near the 70-kilometer mark, a group of about twenty cyclists shrugged off the pack and went into full pursuit of the leaders. They gained quickly on Freedman and Hughes, catching up to within 10 kilometers. This second ground of chasers, including Sundstedt, Bessette, Cooke, Erlank, Symington, Jutras, Nadeau, Young, and Katrina Berger (USA, Autotrader.com), then found themselves three minutes behind the leaders.
At the foot of the last climb, Neben made her final attack, leaving her two companions behind- first Holt and then, a little farther along, Heal. At the peak, Amber Neben had a 1'50" lead over Heal. Behind, Bessette and her companions were moving in fast. At 1'18" behind Sundstedt in the standings, Bessette tried to move ahead of her, but Sundstedt hung on to her and wouldn't budge. Nor would Symington. Bessette crossed the finish line four seconds ahead of Symington and eight seconds ahead of Sundstedt. With the four-second bonus she earned for her third-place finish today, her total gain for the stage was 12 seconds, putting her in third place in the general standings, behind teammate Anke Erlank.
Stage 6: Sutton to Mont-Sutton, 90.3 km
1. Amber Neben (USA) Autotrader.com 90.3 km in 2:31:29
2. Rachel Heal (GBR) GBR Nationals at 1:50
3. Lyne Bessette (Can) Saturn Timex 2:59
4. Sara Symington (GBR) GBR Nationals 3:03
5. Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Intersports 3:07
6. Anke Erlank (RSA) Saturn Timex s.t.
7. Nicole Cooke (GBR) GBR Nationals 3:31
8. Manon Jutras (Can) RONA 3:41
9. Susan Palmer Komar (Can) Intersports 3:44
10. Julie Young (USA) Autotrader.com 3:47
14. Melissa Holt (NZL) RONA 4:19
20. Mélanie Nadeau (Can) RONA 5:08
1. Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Intersports 12:26: 35
2. Anke Erlank (RSA) Saturn Timex at 0:21
3. Lyne Bessette (CAN/Saturn Timex 1:06
4. Katrina Berger (USA) Autotrader.com 4:55
5. Nicole Demars (Can) 800.com 6:20
6. Julie Young (USA) Autotrader.com 7:15
7. Nicole Cooke (GBR) GBR Nationals 8:16
8. Sara Symington (GBR) GBR Nationals 9:45
9. Manon Jutras (Can) RONA 9:53
10. Leah Toffolon (USA) Amoroso/Tristate 10:45
16. Mélanie Nadeau (Can) RONA 13:41
22. Melissa Holt (NZL) RONA 24:39
37. Raphaële Lemieux (Can) RONA 31:56
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