Posted by Editor on 09/27/03
Germany's Judith Arndt solidified her lead on Saturday morning in the Grand Prix Feminin International du Canada stage race. Canadian national team member Lyne Bessette of Knowlton, Quebec moved up from fourth to third in the overall standings and now sits one minute and 37 seconds behind Arndt in the overall standings.
The third stage of the GP Feminin was a 22.9 kilometre individual time trial, and represented Bessette's best chance to overtake Arndt in the standings. The Quebec rider started the day 16 seconds behind the German leader, but lost one minute and 21 seconds on the stage. Bessette is in a virtual tie for second place, only 22 one-hundredths of a second behind Austrian Christiane Soeder.
"I had no legs today" siad Bessette after her disappointing performance. "I knew from the start that I was not having a good ride, but I am surprised at how big a gap Judith got for only 22 kilometres. It will be almost impossible to catch her now, and the best i can do is second, I think."
The course was a tough one, starting and finishing in the village of Herbertville, approximately 30 minutes from Alma. It took the riders around Green Lake on a rolling, twisting, narrow road. Riders also faced a stiff cross wind for the first two kilometres before turning into a headwind for nearly half the stage. They returned back to Herbertville with a tailwind, but time lost in the first half was difficult to make up.
Bessette had shown herself to be the dominant rider on the two road stages thus far, and appeared to be a good bet to challenge Arndt for the lead. But, in the end it wasn't even close, with even Soeder 1:07 back for second place. Even Arndt expressed surprise at the margin of her victory.
"I'm very happy, of course, to strengthen my lead, but I am surprised at the gap, because I know there are some strong riders here. It was a really tough course, but it was the same for everyone, so I do not think I had any advantage. For me, the most important thing was that it was perfect, perfect preparation for the World Championships."
Arndt now looks to be one of the favoured riders for the time trial in Hamilton. She has won the bronze medal in the time trial at the Worlds (1997, San Sebastian), and was the World Champion in the Individual Pursuit the same year.
- We were looking towards a 'showdown' between Canada's top two Juniors during the time trial: National champion (and local Alma favourite) Audrey Lemieux and Emilie Roy. Roy beat Lemieux by 43 seconds, however, Lemieux rode junior gears of 52x14, while Roy rode 52x13. With the tailwind on the backstretch, this provided a considerable advantage to Roy.
- This afternoon there is a 40 lap / 40 kilometre criterium in Alma, which could potentially shake up the second through fifth positions. They are only separated by seven seconds, and six seconds go to the stage winner. It will be interesting to see whether Worlds-bound riders are willing to mix it up in a sprint, so close to the world championships. It will also be interesting to see how many riders finish tomorrow's 93 kilometre road race, especially if the weather turns wet, as it is forecast to do...
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