Posted by Editoress on 09/25/03
Grand Prix Féminin International du Canada
Lyne Bessette, riding for Team Canada, lost the leader's jersey and dropped to fourth overall after the first stage of the Grand Prix Feminin International du Canada today. Judith Arndt of Germany overtook Bessette after grabbing time bonuses during the 92.6 kilometre stage, and finishing third in the stage. Bessette finished fifth in the stage, with the same time as the winner, Regina Schleicher of the German National Team (who won four stages at the Giro), and now lies nine seconds behind Arndt in the overall standings. Two other Canadians are also in top-ten standings - Julie Belanger is fifth and hometown Alma hero Audrey Lemieux of Alma, Quebec is seventh. Both are Juniors racing for the Hamilton 2003 team.
Bessette and her Canadian National Team squad were the most aggressive riders in the race, but the German and Lithuanian teams chased down every attempt by Bessette to break away, leading to a sprint finish, where the Germans were able to set up Schleicher and Arndt.
"The wind made it hard to get a break going, because there were not enough people trying." explained Bessette. "My team was really good, and we were able to work together, which is good preparation for Hamilton. Of course, I would have liked to have kept the jersey, but this is only the first stage, and the differences among the top riders are so small that there is still a good chance to win."
Her team mate, Amy Moore, commented "Our plan was to race aggressively and see what would develop. Lyne was in some breaks, but the Germans got to the front at the end and just drove it."
Tina Mayolo-Pic (Genesis-Scuba), who was sitting in second after the prologue, was expected to be one of the main threats to Bessette's lead because of her sprinting abilities, but didn't factor into the finish.
"It's different when there are a lot of Europeans in the race; they really crank it up. I really struggle with the Euros, they always line it up with good team work."
The GP Feminin continues tomorrow with the longest stage of the race - a 110 kilometre race with 7 laps of a 15 kilometre circuit that includes a short, sharp climb each lap.
- Sue Palmer-Komar was on the start list for Genesis-Scuba until less than 48 hours before the race. According to the team manager, Palmer-Komar was concerned about travelling and getting sick so close to the Worlds, and preferred to do her final preparation at home (in Hamilton).
- Bessette was somewhat critical of both Palmer-Komar and Genevieve Jeanson for missing the GP Feminin. "I think it would have been good if they were both here. It is the last chance to be together, to race together before Worlds. I think the CCA should make riders participate in projects like this, so close to Worlds. We only get one chance to race together (before Worlds) and this would have been a good one." Bessette also said that she is prepared to give Team Sports (who ran the Saturn-sponsored cycling program) some time to find a new sponsor to replace Saturn before going to "Plan B" - private sponsorship and racing more with the national team.
- Today was the birthday of the Lithuanian twins Rasa and Jolanta Polikeviciute. Birthday greetings were offered by the riders and organization at the post-stage meal.
- Lyne Bessette was given a second warning for appearing on the podium in her Saturn jersey, rather than the national team.
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