April 9, 2003, Redwood City, CA - Ok, so I didn’t get 2nd & 3rd place right, but, gee, I nailed the top podium spot right on the nose. Genevieve Jeanson has done it again in the first stage of the Sea Otter Classic. This time, however, it wasn’t a run away, or should I say “ride away” win, as it was in the last stage of Redlands.
Today’s course, described as the closest thing to a mountain bike course road racers will ever get and the hardest stage of Sea Otter, was a 9-mile loop with 900 feet of climbing in a 3-mile span, then descending the same in 3-miles followed by 3-miles of undulating flatland. At times, the road narrows to 15’ and included several false flats, and steep decents with 90-degree corners at the bottom. Tough stuff.
During the climbing section of the first lap, the women’s field of 72 shattered, leaving a lead group of around 30 that included the top riders from RONA/Esker, T-Mobile and Saturn. With the narrow sections, however, even this group was strung out, shelling people off the back until only a pack of 15 remained to contest the top spot. The only successful attack was made by T-Mobile’s Kristin Armstrong, who held off the field for one lap before being swallowed back up again.
As the final miles ticked away, what was left of the teams started to organize for the sprint. There was a large T-Mobile contingent (Kristen Armstrong, Kim Bruckner, Amer Neben, Dede Barry, Kim Anderson), three from RONA/Esker (Jeanson, Magali Le Floc’h, Karen Bockel) and two from Saturn (Lyne Bessette, Manon Jutras). Although, had it not been for a short truce called by Jeanson when on the final descent Kim Bruckner and Amber Neben slipped and fell, T-Mobile would have lost these vital two.
On the final corner, T-Mobile was looking strong with Dede Demet-Barry being led out. However, attached to her wheel was Jeanson, coming around her for the win. "There were several attacks during the last three kilometers," said Jeanson after the stage. "I stayed in the first rows of the group and took wheels. Lyne (Bessette) took the last curve really wide, but Dede’s (Barry) line was perfect. So I took Dede’s wheel and I managed to outflank her about 20 meters before the finish." In third by just a breath was Lyne Bessette of Saturn. The rest of the pack finished with the same time, but taking time bonuses into account, there will be some small but possibly crucial differences in the top 3.
Stage Two is the Bureau of Land Management Fort ORD Time Trial. A 12.05 miles ITT on a very challenging uphill course. You can see the map here
Results Stage One - more to come as they become available
1. Genevieve Jeanson - Rona/Eskar
2. Dede Barry - T-Mobile
3. Lyne Bessette – Saturn
4. Sandy Espeseth - Victory Brewing/Amoroso
5. Nicole Demars - Victory Brewing/Amoroso
Thanks to Giana Roberge from Saturn Cycling, and Daniel Larouche from RONA/Esker for race information and to the official Sea Otter website for results!