Posted by Editoress on 06/3/05
Tour du Grand Montreal
Photos by Michael Estrela
Canadian Team pleased with Grand Tour du Montreal performance
By Leigh Hargrove
The Grand Tour du Montreal finished off yesterday after five exciting stages that entertained the Montreal crowds.
The final stage was a five-lap, 115km circuit race that took riders in and around the town of St. Hilaire. Nurnberger Versicherung's Oenone Wood was in the leader's jersey going into the stage with a ten second lead over Quark rider Annette Beutler and 18 seconds ahead of TEAM S.A.T.S rider
Wood secured her lead after two sprints for time bonuses were contested. As long as she finished in the pack, she would become the 2005 overall leader.
Lap two saw a crash happen that took down Canadian rider Erinne Willock. She suffered multiple cuts from her crash but managed to get back on her bike. The fourth place GC rider was helped back to the pack by her teammates.
Lap 3 saw Subway rider Melissa Sanborn escape and go up the road 60km into the race. The pack seemed content to let her get away and didn't chase. Towards the end of the lap, Sanborn had opened up her gap to just under a minute and it was at this time that Team S.A.T.S' Melissa Holt decided to give chase.
The pack stayed together and let the two riders move up the road. Over the crest of the third climb and down the descent that started the fourth lap, Italian rider Daniella Fusar Poli jumped from the pack, determined to chase down the two leaders. At this point, all three riders were no threat to the overall GC and the pack still remained content to let them go.
Eight kilometres into the race Sanborn was caught by the two chasers, Holt and Fusar Poli, and the three starting working together to maintain an ever-expanding two minute gap on the field. Now, midway during the fourth lap a chase group of six developed and went up the road.
Canadians Lisa Sweeney (Ellicycle Sport expert Louis Garneau) and Kirsten Robbins (National Team) were part of this six-rider group that opened up their lead to a minute on the pack, one minute down on the break.
With twenty-five kilometres remaining the pack did give chase and the six-rider chase group was reeled in with one lap to go. The trio up saw their lead reduced to one minute but go back up again to two minutes with half a lap remaining.
The break stayed away and the sprint finish saw Italian rider nip it in the end over Subway rider Sanborn. Holt rounded out the top three and Wood won the field sprint for fourth, two minutes down on the winner.
The top four riders remained the same in GC after the final stage, with Wood winning the overall title.
The Canadian National team program sent a team of riders to compete in this race. Kris Westwood, National Team coordinator, was pleased with the girls progress over the last two weeks. They attended a training camp in Bromont a week earlier, following by the Montreal World Cup May 28th. They then went on to race this week's Grand Tour du Montreal and are heading down to Philadelphia to compete in the Wachovia Cycling Classic this weekend which will conclude their two week project. "They get a chance to ride in a team atmosphere with different people from whom they are used to riding with, in a different environment than they are used to. I think they really benefited from it. "
The team did really well in this week's race. "I was surprised by some of their performances, especially Kirsten obviously. A couple of the girls have had some highlights in their week. I think Joelle, our seventeen year old, she's pretty strong! Obviously you have got to take it one step at a time at her age. She's only seventeen! Marie-Pierre (Bédard) has improved from last year. Jenny Trew was riding well...everybody has work to do but there is potential there for everybody."
New to the National Team program is Victory Brewing/Specialized rider Kirsten Robbins. She has been racing with the Victory Brewing/Specialized team based out of the United States and was honoured to be a part of the Canadian National Team experience. "I had a really good experience. I loved all the girls. It was a really good first experience with the National Team for me. The girls on the team are all developmental, and one junior. They were just so amazing all week, so motivated to race, they had never done races like this before. They were so amped every morning wanting to race and put 100% into it so it was really refreshing for me to be apart of it!" Robbins finished 15th overall in the international field, a career best for the young rider. She will be racing with her trade team in Philadelphia.
Joelle Numainville is the Canadian National Development Team's junior rider. She finished an impressive 37th overall in the senior women's international stage race.
Canadian National Team rider Jenny Trew was active during the last lap after the winning break had established a two-minute lead. "The pack kept slowing down, with people attacking. Geneviève (Jeanson) and (Erinne) Willock kept attacking, but it's not going to get away when it's those two. So it slowed down with about four to eight km to go. I knew I couldn't do anything on the hill sprint and I thought what the heck! I stayed out for a kilometre and a half and then Nurnberger pulled it back in."
The Canadian project seems to have done wonders for its riders, Trew explains. "I'm a completely different rider after this. Just learning how to push yourself that little extra bit. Every race was like a mini-accomplishment. It was pretty great. (The National Program) has been incredible, the support system is unreal, and the girls are awesome."
The Montreal stage race also impressed the young rider. "They put on an incredible show. It's pretty cool to sit there and have the World Champion riding around with you." Trew finished 52nd overall.
With one race remaining for the girls, Westwood has a plan for Wachovia this weekend. "It's a really different race. It's only 80km and it's generally known as a sprinter's race. It's really going to be about learning how to ride in a pack of 180 riders, staying out of trouble and doing a climb like that. The key there again is to give everybody a job. Don't expect all of them to finish in the bunch because they will be doing the job they were assigned. And not racing just to finish."
Other riders on the development team included Anna Tratnyek, Kylie Case, Suzanne Macht and Marie-Pierre Bédard. Heather Lamson guest rode for Diet Cheerwine but was part of the two week Canadian National Team project. Helena Coney was also part of the composite team that her and Numainville raced on during the Grand Tour.
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