Posted by Editor on 06/2/02
Montreal World Cup
"Eleven laps of riding around in a pack . . shit."
This was a quote from a photographer friend and, in some respects, sums up this year's World Cup women's race on Mont Royal. This race is the classic example of the lone breakaway race, as exemplified by Genevieve Jeanson's superb win last year.
However, as Jeanson said herself after this year's event (in which she finished third): "you can't race the same every year."
For 2002 the 105 rider field may have been the strongest assembled thus far in the 8 years of the race. Jeanson, Lyne Bessette, Sue Palmer-Komar, Fabiana Luperini, Mirjam Melchers, Pia Sundstedt, Petra Rossner, Judith Arndt . . . the list goes on. Add to that the defection of Bessette from Saturn so that she can ride her own race, and we were expecting a race of epic proportions.
In some senses the race suffered from its own legend - everyone was waiting for the other rider to make a move and, as a result, nobody made a move until unheralded Dede Demet-Barry and Anna Millward attacked in the final lap to catch the 'names' by surprise and steal the race away.
To be fair, the wind was a serious factor - gusts of up to 70 kilometres an hour blowing straight into the riders' faces as they climbed the 3.2 kilometres up Camillien Houde to the top of Mont Royal, the worst happening in the final 200 metres as the wind funneled through a rock cut. It was hard even walking against the wind.
Jeanson's Rona team lieutenant, Manon Jutras, did her usual excellent job of setting the early pace, and weeding out the chaff, reducing the contenders from 105 to less then 50 within a lap. After 3 laps the lead bunch was down to 30, with all the major players watching both Jeanson and mountain biker Caroline Alexander - currently the strongest climber on the off road World Cup circuit. Jeanson was missing her other 'assistant', Germany's Karen Bockel, who suffered a stress fracture in her foot after the Tour of the Gila. This may have contributed to her unusual reticence on the course that she, by all accounts, owns.
So, for lap after lap we saw a steady group rolling around, with no major attacks launched (or even minor ones). It was not until the 11th, penultimate, lap that Luperini decided to mix things up, jumping low on the climb. The response was instantaneous, with Melchers, Jeanson, Bessette, Arndt, Suzanne Ljungskog and a couple of others responding.
Jeanson went to the front over the top, and the rest of the field was straggling. "Finally", we thought. "Finally the race is happening."
Significantly, Rossner, the World Cup overall leader, was not there, but Melchers, second in the standings, was. Saturn's job now was to hope that as many people as possible would finish in front of the Dutch rider to reduce the points differential between her and Rossner. Secretly, the Saturn team was urging on their rivals Jeanson, Bessette, Luperini, et al.
So, we all lined up at the finish line. Who would it be? Could Jeanson pull of a repeat? Would Luperini go one better then her 2000 result and win? Could Melchers take top spot?
No one, but no one (well, maybe Michael Barry) was prepared when Dede Demet-Barry came around the final corner first in her baby blue Talgo America outfit. Demet-Barry hadn't raced internationally since the world championships in 2000. She had signed with the Talgo team only that week. Her preparation consisted of "one local race in Colorado in April, and Effingham (in Ontario)."
Demet-Barry and Millward had crested the climb 15 seconds back of the leaders and, it appeared, were out of the game.
"Anna and I were in sight of the leaders, so we just flew down the descent, and made contact near the bottom." explained Demet-Barry. "We both actually then attacked at the same moment on opposite sides (of the group)."
"I went left and Dede went right," Millward said. "We met out in front and there was no question that we were going to work together - this was our one chance. On the climb Dede was too strong, she went hard from the bottom, but I am really pleased to finish second - it is my best result ever in Montreal."
Demet-Barry concurred. "I've raced here twice (1998 and 2000), and have never done well, so to win this race, the hardest on the World Cup, is really special. Along with my win in Sydney in the first World Cup, this is one of the best results of my career."
Millward hung on for second, and Jeanson salvaged local pride by finishing third, ahead of Melchers and Arndt, with Bessette coming sixth.
Demet-Barry, wife of U.S. Postal's Michael Barry, has been a full-time student, whose training has consisted of mountain running in Colorado and riding with Michael. "Michael is so fit right now, that I've been training behind him - it's like motorpacing."
- Demet-Barry was riding a Mariposa, a custom built frame produced by her father-in-law Michael Barry (Sr), who has been building Mariposa bikes since 1972 in Toronto. The bike is, in Demet-Barry's words: "a combination of the traditional and the new; a carbon fork with a lugged steel frame. I love my bike." Photos were posted earlier.
- Melchers takes a slim 14 point lead over Rossner.
- Demet-Barry will be racing for Talgo America in Montreal on Monday and Tuesday, and then at Philadelphia. After that she is going to Spain with Michael, and continuing her studies by internet over the summer.
We will have lots more photos going up tomorrow.
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