Posted by Editoress on 05/18/03
Lyne Bessette Wins Stage 2 at Tour de L'Aude
Courtesy Team Saturn
In what can only be called a Tour de Force, the Saturn Cycling Team rose to the top today in the second stage of the Tour de L'Aude. The 115 kilometer stage took the riders around the breath taking, picturesque, French countryside up to the category one climb and back down where it all started in Rieux Minervois. Despite a comfortable cushion, yesterday's leader of the Tour, Nataliya Kachalka, would not finish the day as she started. The Leader's Jersey passed on to the shoulders of Anita Valen (Power-Plate Bic) who was second in the finish to stage winner Lyne Bessette.
The race got off to a brisk start with speeds well over 50 kilometers per hour for much of the first hour. Saturn's Katie Mactier had a go off the front, only to be re-absorbed by a furiously fast bunch. Mactier's teammate Ina Teutenberg was next, but after her strong showing at this Tour last year, the other teams would not let her get far, and thus the bunch arrived intact to the bottom of the climb.
After a superb lead-out into the bottom of the climb by Petra Rossner, the Nurnberger Team was well placed with Judith Arndt and Trixi Worrack at the front. Also there were the climbers one would expect including Jolanta Polikeviciute, Valentina Polkhanova and Mirjam Melchers. Saturn had Mactier, Bessette and Manon Jutras. Over the top a group of 22 had formed, and it was clear that this group was the race.
On the second and last time bonus sprint, Jutras attacked, dragging a French rider with her. The French rider would not work with Jutras and lost contact with her on a rise out of one of the quaint French towns. Alone, Jutras powered into the wind holding off a raging chase as she bore down on the points sprint. Valen took the sprint, and after a slight hesitation, Bessette jumped hard, with only Valen able to respond. With Valen sitting on, Bessette bridged the 30 seconds up to Jutras. Once the two connected, the gap to the chase group widened. Climbing steadily past a minute, then a minute thirty, the two Saturn riders buried themselves to gain precious seconds as they worked into the head wind with Valen sitting contentedly on the their wheels.
In the final kilometer, Jutras attacked, and Valen closed the gap. With 400 meters to go she jumped hard, but Bessette was able to come by to nip her at the line for a brilliant win. Jutras came home in third. Valen's impressive ride moves her into the Leader's Jersey by 3 seconds over Bessette Third is in the overall if Jutras.
Tomorrow is another afternoon stage of 120 kilometers taking the riders through more towns, up and over the dales of the beautiful French vineyards and down to the river of L'Aude. With another category one climb featured, the two Saturn riders will have ample opportunity to try to pry the Yellow Fleece from Valen's shoulders.
1. Lyne Bessette (Can) Saturn
2. Anita Valen - Power PlateBic
3. Manon Jutras (Can) Saturn
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