Posted by Editoress on 07/30/03
The International - Tour de `Toona Altoona, Pennsylvania
Courtesy Team Saturn
Drama unfolds in Altoona
Bessette and O'Neill take win and race lead in a day of double victories for Saturn
In a day that saw a dramatic change in what has become a typical scenario mountainous women's races, Genevieve Jeanson was stripped of her Yellow Jersey when Saturn's Lyne Bessette raced away with the win and enough of a time gap to claim the lead of the race. In the men's race, race leader Chris Baldwin succumbed to the pressure applied by the Saturn Team and slid into second behind today's stage winner, Nathan O'Neill.
The drama played out early in both races with attacks on the unforgiving climb out of the starting town of Johnstown. By the top of the climb in both races breaks were created that became the major factor of the eventual winner's success.
The women's race saw Jeanson attacking at mile three. Only Bessette was able to stay with her, but soon enough the young Canadian had shed her nearest rival, and Bessette was forced to wait for re-enforcements in her Saturn teammates before continuing the chase. As soon as the team organized the gap to Jeanson came down and wavered in the 20 second region. Finally sensing Jeanson was maybe not as strong as she had been earlier in the year, Bessette bridged to her. Jeanson continued to apply pressure, but behind a hard chase formed headed up by Team Basis and Diet Rite. The two were brought back with still 80 miles left in the 98 mile race. Just as everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief, Saturn's Ina Teutenberg attacked and soon put substantial gap into the field. Teutenberg was marked by Frenchwoman Magali LeFloch, and as Rona's teammate, LeFloch was not allowed to work with Teutenberg.
And so, Teutenberg powered her way into the gusting headwinds, putting time on a chasing Rona Team. The gap grew to two then three minutes. Rona worked steadily feathering the gap, seemingly unconcerned with the Saturn sprinter. At the bottom of the main climb, the gap was three minutes to the chasing field and LeFloch had dropped Teutenberg who was feeling a little fatigued after her 60 mile effort into the headwind and over the substantial climbs of western Pennsylvania.
As LeFloch made her way to the top, Jeanson attacked the group, this time unable to shake Bessette. As the two crested the hill, LeFloch had over a minute, but was told to wait on the descent for her teammate. However, as Jeanson and Bessette made contact with LeFloch, the main group of 20 riders was bearing down on them, and it was less than a minute until the group was together. Saturn now had three in the group including Jessica Phillips and Amy Moore.
Moore was the first to launch an attack, which set Phillips up when Jeanson was forced to chase Moore. Phillips was solo briefly before Heather Albert (Basis) and again LeFloch made their way to the Saturn rider. Phillips continued to attack the severe rollers, stretching the will power of Jeanson behind her. Jeanson was finally able to close the gap on the last and one of the steepest rollers. As she closed the final meters to Phillips, Bessette launched, and was clear immediately. By the top of the hill Bessette had 17 seconds, and from there she had only the finish line in mind. With five kilometers to go, she found her rhythm and gave it her all. She finished solo, 35 seconds ahead of second place Albert. Bessette gained a precious 20 second time bonus, and Jeanson was unable to finish in the top three, leaving Bessette with a lead of around 31 seconds over the Rona rider. "I owe it all to my teammates," gushed a very pleased Bessette. "First Ina and then Jessica, everyone did a great job today." However, the race is far from over. Three very difficult stages stand between Bessette and her Saturn Team and the final awarding of the Yellow Jersey. Tomorrow's circuit around Hollidaysburg will certainly offer Jeanson plenty of opportunity to regain the coveted first place on the podium.
Tim Johnson animated the men's race early and was joined by Doug Ollerenshaw (Broadmark) and Andy Jaques Maynes. The three worked together opening a maximum gap to seven minutes but the work of the Navigators and several teams brought the gap to 5:30 by the bottom of the climb. As the grade steepened, Johnson dropped the two riders he was with, putting distance between himself and a newly formed chase group of Adam Bergmann, Chris Baldwin, and Saturn teammates Nathan O'Neill and Tom Danielson.
As Johnson attacked the top of the climb, O'Neill broke away from the group and began to work his way up to his teammate. Eventually the two made contact, with O'Neill catching then passing Johnson as the field roared into town. O'Neill's 50 second gap came down rapidly, but he managed to hold them off by 13 seconds for a solo win and the lead of the race. In the field sprint it was Scotty Veiss over Saturn's Chris Horner.
As O'Neill pulled on the race leader's jersey, his teammate Johnson was awarded the climber's jersey. O'Neill leads the race over Baldwin by 22 seconds. Like the women, the men have plenty of racing ahead of them, and with the time gaps so small, it really is anyone's race to win.
1. Nathan O'Neill - Saturn
2. Scotty Veiss, at 13 seconds
3. Chris Horner - Saturn, st
2. Baldwin, at 22 seconds
3. Hagenlocher - Webcor
1. Lyne Bessette - Saturn
2. Heather Albert - Basis
2. Jeanson, at 0:32
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