The final two stages would prove to be very difficult – first the road race with it’s three brutal climbs and then the criterium with it’s sketchy chicane. The women’s road race was a surprise. Prior to the stage Victory Brewing racer Lauren Franges told me that the race series so far had been quite frustrating as Rona continually reeled in all attacks. An odd tactic on Rona’s part because they ended up doing most of the work for Quark. When I mentioned this to Lyne Bessette, she laughed and said “Good! It lets me and my team stay rested and fresh.”
Stage 6 Verizon Blair County Road Race Determined that today would not be a repeat of the previous stages frustrations Victory Brewing’s Lauren Franges rode aggressively from the start! From my vantage point in race promotor Rick Geist’s car I was able to watch the race leaders throughout the stage, and hear what was happening further back in the peloton via the race radio! (Truly a delightful way to view a road stage!)
Lauren Franges, Rona’s Helen Kelly, Quark racer Megan Elliot, Team Biobail Cervelo’s Julia Farell, Webcor’s Yukie Nakamura and Genesis Scuba racer Candice Blickem established a solid breakaway after three miles. Considering all major teams were represented and none of the riders was a major threat on GC it seemed as though this might be allowed to go, but such was not to be the case. The Webcor and Team Biobail Cervelo riders were shelled out at 9 miles and by 10 miles the peloton was gruppo compacto.
Peloton, photo by MWO
Barely three miles later Victory Brewing’s Lauren Franges attacked again. This time the attack stuck and she gained 1:20 on the field. After ten miles the peloton began to get a bit nervous, and Genesis Scuba sent Candice Blickem off to try to bridge the gap.
Victory Brewing’s Lauren Franges, photo by MWO
Shortly after Blickem’s attack, Sportsbook.com racer Megan Esmonde sprinted away to join the chase. Light rain began spitting down, as Lauren’s gap grew to two minutes at 23 miles and the peloton got serious about chasing her down.
By 32 miles the chase group included Quark’s Sue Haywood, Andrea Hannos (Rona), Bettina Hold (Webcor), smurf Nicole Freedman (Team Basis/Ford), Candice Blickem (Genesis Scuba) and Megan Long (Sportsbook.com). They brought down Lauren’s gap to 1:10 by the time they hit the feed zone.
On the 2800 ft climb of Blue Knob Victory Brewing racer Lauren Franges was finally captured. Her valiant solo effort started at mile 13 had stayed away until she hit the first steep section of Blue Knob almost 32 miles later! Quark’s Sue Haywood, Rona’s Helen Kelly and Grace Fleury of Genesis Scuba pass Lauren and start to fight amongst themselves, less than a mile later the peloton is one again.
Swallowed by the Peloton, photo by MWO
Team Rona massed at the head of the group once more, driving hard at 48 mile out. But just as the climb began in earnest race leader Lyne Bessette attacked, stringing the field out into a long thin ribbon.
Bessette begins attack, photo by MWO
Bessette totally blew the field apart as she powered up the climb, no one could hold her wheel!
She gained an 18 second advantage over the three women chasing her, as the rest of the peloton shattered with women scattered along the climb.
Bessette’s teammate Manon Jutras, Rona’s Erinne Willock, and Sue Palmer Komar of Genesis Scuba were the only women able to keep Bessette in sight! At 51 miles Erinne Willock latched onto Bessette’s wheel. The four women formed a tight formation as the
road descended, winding through a thick fog as a light misty rain began to fall.
As a side note: Bessette, Palmer Komar, and Jutras are the three women selected to ride for Canada in August. So the last 40 miles of the road race provided a perfect opportunity for the Canadian Olympic team to get some practice in, eh?
Fierce Foursome, photo by MWO
A select chase group has formed containing Rona’s Genevieve Jeanson and her teammate Katrina Grove, as well as Genesis Scuba’s Tina Pic in her green sprint points jersey, Quark’s Magali LeFloch, and Velo Bella’s Lynn Gaggioli. At 62 miles the chase group has grown to include Aquafina’s Katie Lambden, Victory Brewing’s Johanna Buick and Kim Anderson, Webcors Felicia Greer, Genesis Scuba’s Kori Seehafer, and Team Basis’s Kristen Johnson, but the four leaders have almost two minutes advantage!
The Canadian Olympic team and Erinne Willock worked like a well-oiled machine, constantly increasing the gap. The rain has begun to fall hard now, as we pass the 10K to go sign. The yellow jersey of Lyne Bessette is pulling hard at the front of the break which has grown it’s lead to an insurmountable 3:45! Into the town and Manon Jutras is flying, leading Lyne to the line. Jutras left everything she had on the road in those final meters. It was a picture perfect textbook leadout, and when Jutras pulled off Bessette stormed across the line to victory!
Lyne Bessette, Sue Palmer Komar, and Erinne Willock photo by MWO
Lyne Bessette’s race leaders jersey is firmly in Quark’s possession and now they have the overall Queen of the Mountains title secured as there are no mountain points in tomorrows criterium! The sprint points leader remains Genesis Scuba racer Tina Pic.
Rick Geist and Tina Pic photo by MWO
After the race a very, very tickled Katie Lambden (Aquafina) rolled up to me, just bubbling over! “I can’t believe it! I just can’t believe it! I made it! It was such an exciting day – I just couldn’t believe it when I got into the chase group and looked around. I was in with Tina Pic, Genevieve Jeanson, and Lynn Gaggioli! Tina kept encouraging me to go to the front for climbs, so I could get as far as possible and then grab wheels to carry me over. The third Queen of the Mountain climb was so, so hard, but I stuck with the group all the way! I even attacked with 5k to go, I thought maybe they’d let me go, since it’s only me but no... Wow! It was epic!”
Aquafina’s Katie Lambdenphoto by MWO
Men’s Race Summary
Courtesy of Tour de ‘Toona
Fog and dampness in the mountains along the course affected the outcome of the men's race as teams Webcor and Health Net battled it out during the men's race. John Lieswyn persevered to nail down the Waste Management yellow leader's jersey from Chris Horner.
"I was impressed with how strong Chris Horner's team was today," said Lieswyn. He said that it was the fog on top of Blue Knob that had an effect on the race outcome and that because of the low visibility and dampness, some riders dropped away from the lead pack at the top.
Webcor aka Horner’s Henchmen!, photo by Marianne Werz OBrien
In the end Lieswyn and teammate Scott Moninger managed to break away from Horner to take the stage victory and second place overall in the final stage of men's action.
"We had a good position going in," Lieswyn said of today's race. "I kept looking at the yellow jersey on Chris Horner and thought, 'I want to see what that looks like on me'."
It was Lieswyn's first stage race win in the U.S. in more than 15 years, and in taking the individual crown, he also helped his Health Net team win the Owens-Illinois Team General Classification title.
14 year old phenom Sinead Millar, photo by MG Ellis/AG Photo
Men’s Cat 2 Podium
1 602 AYERS Ian Colavita-Bolla Racin 3:05:39
2 628 HOWARD Graham ABG Cycling "
3 661 TIMMERMAN Dan Maxxis/Spokepost.com "
Men’s Cat 3 Podium
1 332 FUNG Adam Maryland Collegiate 3:19:07
2 374 PATE Benjamin ESSM/ GPOA "
3 398 ZELLERS Norman Team by Grace/Giant "
Men’s Cat 4 Podium
1 489 CUMMINGS Stephen kraynicks/mezzatesta 51:49
2 476 ARNAL Alvaro Team Ardmore Bike Li "
3 546 ST. GERMAIN Adam AFD/OSVC "
Men’s Cat 5 Podium
1. Zach (Hey Zach! I am SO sorry but I didn’t get your last name?)
2. Chad Howard
3. Craig Mathews (Team Me)
Cat 5 Podium
Someone has to teach these Cat guys podium etiquette! They hop up, grab their awards, and spin around to hop back down again. When I spanked Craig Mathews for this afterwards he struck a proper podium pose!
This was Craig’s first time on the podium, and he was delighted to place third over a much younger field. He’s a 44 year old local racer with two children. When I asked for his team name Craig just laughed, saying “I race for team ME!”
Women’s Cat 3 Podium
1 752 BICKERSTAFF Sarah ESSM/GPOA 1:05:20
2 759 HERMAN Margot Hudson Valley Velo C "
3 764 LENT Rosanne Skirack.com/Provisio “
Cat 3 Podium
The women’s Cat 3 /4 race was hard fought again today, and for the second time in as many days Sinead Miller came out on top for the Cat 4 racers. Sinead was astonishing today, however, because the AGH/Pactimo racer won the Cat 3/ 4 race outright on her way to her second yellow jersey as Cat 4 women’s leader! Unbelievable as it may seem, Sinead Miller is only 14 years old, which undoubtably makes her one of the youngest race leaders in ‘Toona history!
Women’s Cat 4 Podium
1 824 MILLER Sinead AGH/Pactimo 1:05:20
2 835 SADLE Tammy LSV/Kelly "
3 842 GARVIN Erin “
Sinead Millar, photo by MG Ellis/AG Photo
Pro Men Stage 6
1 Scott Moniger Health Net 3:42:45
2. John Lieswyn Health Net "
3. Chris Horner Webcor Cycling 3:44:05
4. Jon Page FiordiFrutta 3:45:06
5. Mark McCormack Colavita Olive Oil "
6. Doug Ollerenshaw Jelly Belly / Aramark "
7. Will Frishkorn Colavita Olive Oil "
8. Tim Larkin OFOTO "
9. Dominique Perras OFOTO "
10. Jason McCartney Health Net "
Pro Men Final GC
1. John Lieswyn Health Net 15:34:01
2. Scott Moniger Health Net 0:34
3. Chris Horner Webcor Cycling 1:17
4. Jason McCartney Health Net 3:14
5. Justin England Webcor Cycling 3:29
6. Will Frishkorn Colavita Olive Oil 3:29
7. Mark McCormack Colavita Olive Oil 3:36
8. Doug Ollerenshaw Jelly Belly / Aramark 3:40
9. Danny Pate Health Net 3:43
10. Tim Larkin OFOTO 3:52 01:11
Men’s Final Team standings
1. Health Net
3. Colavita Olive Oil
5. Webcor Cycling
Women Verizon Blair County Road Race
1. Lyne Bessette Quark Cycling 4:25:06
2. Susan Palmer-Komar Genesis Scuba Pro "
3. Erinne Willock Rona "
4. Manon Jutras Quark Cycling "
5. Tina Pic Genesis Scuba Pro 4:27:56
6. Katrina Grove Rona "
7. Leigh Hobson Team Biovail Cervelo "
8. Magali LeFloch Quark Cycling "
9. Lynn Gagioli Velo Bella "
10. Kim Anderson Victory Brewing "
Women’s Overall After Stage 6
1. Lyne Bessette Quark Cycling 18:39:20
2. Susan Palmer-Komar Genesis Scuba Pro 0:32
3. Erinne Willock Rona 0:52
4. Manon Jutras Quark Cycling Team 1:12
5. Lynn Gaggioli Velo Bella 3:21
6. Genevieve Jeanson Rona 3:34
7. Tina Pic Genesis Scuba Pro 3:42
8. Magali LeFloch Quark Cycling 4:13
9. Kori Seehafer Genesis Scuba Pro 4:20
10. Katrina Grove Rona 4:23
Women’s Team Standings
1. Quark Cycling Team
3. Genesis Scuba Pro
4. Victory Brewing
5. Aquafina / CRCA