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The Tour de 'Toona - Stage 7 and Final Wrap Up
By Marianne Werz O'Brien
Date: 8/4/2004
The Tour de 'Toona - Stage 7 and Final Wrap Up

ProWomen in Waiting

Once again I was blessed with the best seat in the house! On Sunday the weather gods smiled upon ‘Toona and I followed the race in the chase car, with the top down, cruising the course in comfort!

My inestimable chauffeur - Larry “Mario Andretti” English

Quark controlled the race, keeping race leader Lyne Bessette safe in the front of the pack. A good thing too as on lap 15 there was a massive pileup in the final chicane. A full quarter of the peloton got a free lap as the guys in the wheel pit went into overdrive!

Quark at the front of the peloton

Flying through the Chicane

I love this next photo – from Team Basis, to Rona, to Quark!

Working Hard!

Women’s Stage 7 Atlantic Broadband Criterium
1 103 PIC Tina Genesis Scuba Pro
2 105 VAN GILDER Laura Genesis Scuba Pro
3 22 LONG Magen
4 17 JEANSON Genevieve Rona
5 78 FREEDMAN Nicole Team Basis/Ford
6 4 LEFLOCH Magali Quark Cycling Team
7 109 FRANGES Lauren Victory Brewing
8 102 PALMER-KOMAR Susan Genesis Scuba Pro
9 31 HOBSON Leigh Team Biovail Cervelo
10 16 GROVE Katrina Rona

Stage 7 Podium

Women’s Final GC
1 1 BESSETTE Lyne Quark Cycling Team 19:49:29
2 102 PALMER-KOMAR Susan Genesis Scuba Pro 00:34
3 18 WILLOCK Erinne * Rona 00:54
4 6 JUTRAS Manon Quark Cycling Team 01:14
5 103 PIC Tina Genesis Scuba Pro 03:20
6 54 GAGGIOLI Lynn Velo Bella 03:23
7 17 JEANSON Genevieve * Rona 03:34
8 4 LEFLOCH Magali Quark Cycling Team 04:10
9 104 SEEHAFER Kori Genesis Scuba Pro 04:16
10 16 GROVE Katrina Rona 04:18

The Top 10 Finishers with race promoter Rick Geist

Queen of the Mountains Champion Lyne Bessette with race promoter Rick Geist

Cycling fan and Pennsylvania State Representative Roy Baldwin was on hand to enjoy the races! Rep. Baldwin is committed to helping his constituents enjoy healthier lives. He spoke to me at length about the need to have a network of multiuse trails in order to help get people outside and active. One of his initiatives is the World of Wellness program.

Sprint Champion Tina Pic

Most Aggressive rider Verizon’s Becky Broder

Best Young Rider Erinne Willock

Women’s Team Final Overall
1 Quark Cycling Team
2 Genesis Scuba Pro
3 Rona
4 Victory Brewing 5
5 Aquafina/CRCA
6 Webcor Builders
7 Team Basis/Ford
9 Velo Bella
10 Red 5
11 Team Biovail Cervelo
12 Team Kenda Tire


Pro-Men’s Crit

The men’s Sunday Atlantic Broadband Criterium race suffers due to the newly minted NYC Cycling Championship. In it’s premiere run 3 years ago, Threshold Sports (the NYC race promoters) were able to secure a conflicting date with the end of the Tour de ‘Toona because Lance Armstrong agreed to race in NYC and this suited his schedule. Now the organizers of the Tour de ‘Toona have had to shorten the men’s series to six stages, and make Sunday’s race a separate event for the men, while the women’s series is still seven stages.

Men’s Pro Podium

Men’s Atlantic Broadband Criterium
1 911 MURPHY Eric Aerospace Engineering
3 916 BREVRE Frank
4 918 DOHERTY Lance
6 910 KEHRBERG Michael Subway Express
7 997 FAULKNER Nat Trek/VW/Doriti Gelat
8 919 LAINE Owen

Cat 2 Race

Cat 2 Startline, with Abraham McNutt in the leaders jersey

Cat 2 – Chicane of Nutcracker, Sweet!

Men’s Cat 2 Podium
1 644 NIELSEN Owen
3 664 VAN SICKLE Judd White Jersey Sports/

Men’s Cat 2 Final Overall
1 602 AYERS Ian Colavita-Bolla Racin
2 637 MCNUTT Abraham Team Dayton
3 673 WHITTINGTON John NCVC Edge Technologies

Men's Cat 3 Race

Cat 3 Freddie Fu racer Joe Ruggery took the overall honors this year. The Pennsylvania State Trooper was victorious on stage 1 Friday, and never gave up the yellow jersey after that!

Cat 3 Startline

Men’s Cat 3 Podium
Steve Krisko
Lou Devlin
Steve Bednash

Early break with series leader Joe Ruggery

Men’s Cat 3 Overall
Joe Ruggeri - Freddie Fu
Norm Zellers - Grace/Giant
Adam Fung - Md. Collegiate

Yellow Jersey Joe Ruggery (Freddie Fu)

Men’s Cat 4 Stage 3 Podium
1 476 ARNAL Alvaro Team Ardmore Bike Li 46:02
2 553 ZOLTANI Zombor LSV/Kelly "
3 539 QUINTERO Eutimio CRCA "

Once again, training the Cat boys in proper podium etiquette! Alvaro Arnal (Team Ardmore Bikes), Adam St. Germaine (AFD/OSVC), and Steve Cummings (Kraynicks/Messatesta) proved themselves to be quick studies and willingly re-enacted the GC podium for me while mentioning I could use the same photo for the previous days stage as the overall results were the same! Helpful fellows, one and all!

Cat 4 GC Podium

Men’s Cat 4 Overall
1 476 ARNAL Alvaro Team Ardmore Bike Li 50
2 546 ST. GERMAIN Adam AFD/OSVC 44
3 489 CUMMINGS Stephen kraynicks/mezzatesta 43

Women's Cat 3 / 4 Race

Cat 3 / 4 at the Starting Line

Talking with Sinead Miller’s folks after her race. Seems Sinead is even more amazing than I previously thought. This young lady is racing on an ankle she sprained on Wednesday and still pulled off a clean sweep of the Cat 4 series! She won all three stages as well as the overall ‘Toona championship! Sinead began racing BMX when she was barely into grade school and is the reigning National BMX Champion. Her folks believe it was the years of BMX racing that have given her such a strong sprinting ability. Sinead earned 3rd place in the 2002 BMX World Championships! Keep an eye on this young woman, people, because the road ahead looks bright indeed for this talented young racer.

Sinead Miller and her Family

Women’s Cat 4 Stage Podium (plus one!)
1 824 MILLER Sinead AGH/Pactimo
2 835 SADLE Tammy LSV/Kelly
3 842 GARVIN Erin
4 823 MILLER Diane Team Snow Valley

After the race I caught up with the 4th placed finisher, Snow Valley racer Diane Miller. Diane is the only Cat 4 woman on her team and she finished a very respectable seventh in the overall GC!

Diane Miller, Team Snow Valley

Erin Garvin, Cat 4 Queen of the Mountains champion

Seen and Heard – Images of ‘Toona!

They say every picture tells a story! So I’ll let these images of ‘Toona speak for themselves! We’ll start with the smurf squad - Nicole Freedman’s team Basis, with fresh scrubbed faces to make their sponsor proud!

Team Basis/Ford , photo by MWO

Next up - the team with the most colorful kit racing! The Jelly Belly boys have had a sweet time at ‘Toona with Doug Ollerenshaw winning the second stage.

Doug, Mariano, Ernie, Caleb, and Ben, photo by MWO

Friday’s Cat4 yellow jersey holder Adam St. Germaine. Adam placed second in the overall, and collected a pair of souvenir jersey’s at this race. In addition to Friday’s yellow leaders jersey, on Saturday he earned the red King of the Mountains jersey as well!

Adam St. Germaine photo by MWO

The Rona squad is much more than just it’s star, Genevieve Jeanson. Saturday Erinne Willock had a phenomenal ride, ending with her up on the podium!

Rona , photo by MWO

Team Velo Bella has been garnering much press recently with former teammate Lynn Gaggioli (now T-Mobile) returning briefly to the fold as a guest racer for the Tour de ‘Toona. The Velo Bella jersey was on the podium five times including the win of stage 3!

Team Velo Bella, photo by Marianne Werz OBrien

Lynn, currently #2 in National Racing Calendar (NRC) points, has been having an amazing season. She has taken the overall victories at the Valley of the Sun, La Vuelta de Bisbee, and Joe Martin stage races this year!

Lynn Gaggioli photo by MWO

Snow Valley, photo by MWO

Ivan Dominguez and Chris Horner, photo by MWO

I almost didn’t recognize Jed Schnieder out of his Jittery Joe’s kit! He’s riding here as part of Nalley Lexis – the development team associated with Jittery Joe’s! He rides with the espoir team to help train the younger racers, show them the ropes. John Murphy attended the U23 training camp in Belgium this year!

Jed Schneider, John Murphy and Tim Henry, photo by MWO

The Fiordi Frutta team, photo by MWO

Chris Horner, photo by MWO

Artemis racer Gretchen Jacobs is currently tied for 1st in the MidAtlantic Bike Race Association series (MABRA BAR) for Novice women!

Artemis racer Gretchen Jacobs, photo by MWO

Cat 3 Peloton in Sunday’s Crit, photo by MWO

Cat 2 at the start in Sunday’s Crit, photo by MWO

Aquafina racer Tina Kunstbeck raced her final laps on Sunday. She’s hanging up her cleats and retiring after ‘Toona.

Tina Kunstbeck, photo by MWO

Lyne Bessette and Quark photo by MWO

Laura Van Gilder

Talk about a small world! It turns out that my lunchtime training ride goes right past Mr. Mayola's front door!

Genesis Scuba racer Tina Pic with her dad!

Canadian Time Trial Champion and Olympian Sue Palmer-Komar with her daughter Trinity!

Sue Palmer Komar and Trinity

Katie Lambden’s Aquafina Race Diary

STAGE 6: Altoona/Blair Road Race

With five stages of the International Tour de ‘Toona complete, Team Aquafina was hanging tough at 6th place in team GC. However, we were going into Saturday’s Stage 6 with one less rider: Michelle Kiesanowski, our guest rider from New Zealand, would unfortunately not be starting due to injuries sustained in her two crashes in the Martinsburg Circuit Race the day before. Besides a lot of road rash and bruises, her shoulder and ankle were very sore and racing hard was out of the question.

Our team left for the 8:30 a.m. race a little subdued in spirit. I, for one, was nervous about what would arguably be the hardest stage of the Tour. My teammates all agreed that the Blue Knob climb we’d be completing today at around mile 50 is steeper and longer than the road we’d taken up the same mountain on Wednesday. With my confidence in my hill-climbing ability quite shattered after my post-Blue Knob meltdown that day, I can say that the thought of the three QOM’s figuring in today’s stage had me filled with dread.

The 93-mile race commenced with a 20-mile loop that wound back through downtown Altoona and crossed the start/finish line for the first sprint. The pace wasn’t really all that fast in a strictly objective sense, perhaps, but I felt pretty lousy. Pedaling along at the back of the pack, I radioed our manager: “Hey, John, could you radio the other teams and tell them they’re going too fast?” I was trying to inject a little levity into what appeared to be a grim situation for me, but he probably didn’t think it was terribly funny. Sometime after that first sprint, Lauren Franges of Victory Brewing escaped the pack and struck out solo, gaining a maximum of about 3 minutes. None of the other top teams (Quark, Rona, and Genesis) were particularly worried about her, but at the same time they weren’t going to play around too much. There were calls for a pee-break from the back of the pack, but with a rider off the front, there was little chance of the call being answered. Too bad for me, since I really could have used one!

I hung around the back of the pack until Blue Knob loomed ahead. Then my wonderful teammates Tina and Elisa started pushing me to get to the front. Elisa has an uncanny ability to ride along the edge of the road, practically in the gravel yet totally in control of her line. By gluing myself to her wheel, I was able to move up at least to the front third of the pack as we came to the mountain access road. This was absolutely crucial, since as soon as the road began to curve up I found myself positioned just at the back of a fantastic group containing Laura Van Gilder, Sandy Espeseth, and my teammate Kristen LaSasso among others.

It was the perfect spot for me. With the exception of Kristen, these women aren’t climbers, but they are strong and savvy. The pace therefore was steady and comfortable. I felt at ease and in control, alternately sitting in my 39-27 gear and standing in my 39-25. As the pitch increased and I stood once again, I noticed that my natural cadence was carrying me first to the front, and then away from the group. I looked up the road, and saw a small group about 300 yards ahead. I thought about what Liza had told me before the race: “Whatever group you finish Blue Knob with is likely to be the group you ride with the rest of the day.” I felt good, I realized with some surprise, so why not try to make it to that group up the road? So I climbed and climbed, really at my own pace but with the constant goal of catching those riders up the road.

As the caravan began passing me to get to that front group, there were yells of encouragement. Todd, the super mechanic from WebCor (who has been really kind to our mechanic-less team at more than one race), leaned out the window of their team car and shouted at me to keep going, I looked great. John gave me some more support as he rolled by. “How much farther?” I gasped. “About 1K,” he replied through the radio. I tried to smile at the local fans riding in our car, but most likely scared them with the grimace that came out. I passed a small group of three, then another rider. I could see a Victory girl just a little farther ahead, and then another two in the group I was trying to catch. I thought to myself that if I could just catch that last girl, her teammates just up the road would wait for her, and then the three of them would bring me up to wherever I needed to be.

As luck would have it, that’s exactly how it turned out. I caught Johanna Buick with about 50 yards to spare right at the top of Blue Knob. Using the caravan for draft on the fast descent, we pulled ourselves onto a grupetto containing the other Victory women (Brooke Ourada and Kim Anderson), Felicia Greer of WebCor, and Kristin Johnson of Basis. The Victory train then went into motion, alternating at the front until we came up on the group of 7 that had crested Blue Knob just ahead of us. It was with shock that I realized who those 7 were: there was the red climber’s jersey of Genevieve Jeanson, there was the green sprinter’s jersey on Tina Pic’s back, and there was Lynn Gaggioli (VeloBella), Magali LeFloch (Quark), the Rona duo of Katrina Grove and Kathryn Curi, and Kori Seehafer (Genesis). Blown as I was from the chase, I couldn’t help but grin in gratified amazement that I’d made it into this elite group. We still had 40 miles to ride, though, and I knew it would not be easy to stay with these women.

I knew there had to be a few riders even farther up the road, and I deduced from the absences in our group that it must be Lyne Bessette of Quark, Sue Palmer-Komar of Genesis, Erinne Willock of Rona, and possibly others. At any rate, the lead group was balanced enough that our group wasn’t chasing too hard. I was fervently glad of that, as I was working hard enough just to keep the pace being set in our group of 13. I remember a long, fast, curving descent and thinking to myself “I will NOT be dropped on the descent. I will NOT!” I almost was, but got back on in the nick of time. The course was rolling and fast for the next 10 miles, and I just tried to sit in, out of the wind. I was tired, but the psychological lift from being amongst these top riders drowned some of my muscles’ complaints. The second QOM was coming up, I knew, and pretty soon we hit the dirt road climb. I struggled mightily over this kilometer. My tired legs could have used the extra leverage of standing on the pedals, but since we were on dirt and gravel, standing was wasted effort as one’s rear wheel would simply slip without weight to keep traction on the slippery surface. I finished the climb dead last of the group, gritting my teeth as I pushed over the top.

From there the rest of the day is a blur of pain, rain, and thoughts switching wildly from elation to desperation and back again. The sky opened and it started to pour with maybe 15 miles to go. Rona and Genesis were attacking non-stop, and I had to concentrate all my energy on staying on whatever wheel was in front of me. The third QOM climb felt like the hardest 10 minutes of my life. I kept hoping I’d missed the 1K to go sign, and I’d soon see the 200M marker. But as we passed the 1K to go sign, I groaned inwardly. Only two thoughts kept me from giving up there: First, that there was still a WebCor rider and a Basis rider in the group (2 teams vying with us for 5th in team GC); and second, that everyone must be hurting at least nearly as much as I was. There were no attacks up the climb, but somewhere along there Brooke Ourada and Kristin Johnson cracked and dropped off.

When we came through the tunnel at the top of Horseshoe Curve, I knew for sure that I would make finish with this group: it was all downhill from there! I even tried an attack with around 4K to go, thinking that maybe Genesis and Rona would be too busy worrying about each other to care about me. Alas, that wasn’t to be the case, but I had the satisfaction of trying for a good result in the stage. I ended up 2nd to last of my group, which gave me 14th in the stage. After I crossed the line, I had an ear-to-ear grin of stupefied happiness stretched across my muddy, exhausted face.

Kristen and Liza finished in the next group, and Elisa in the following. Tina rode in with Megan Elliot, under-23 road champ, a little afterward. My ride bumped me from 43rd to 18th in the individual GC. The best news of the day came with the team GC results: Team Aquafina moves into 5th overall!

STAGE 7: Altoona Criterium

After a nap and ice to the legs following Saturday’s road stage, we drove to the volunteers’ dinner at the Jaffa Mosque downtown. Besides picking at dinner and chowing down on cake, we also met some of the volunteers and even signed some autographs. I was busy recruiting a cheering section for the crit the next day. I enlisted some of the young volunteers, making sure they knew my name and race number so they could shout for me. Psychological boosts are as important to performance as all the eating and recovering we do at stage races. We also went to Sheetz (the local gas station/coffeehouse) for gelato and decaf lattes. Let us hope that ice cream is the dinner of champions.

The next morning I slept until 9:30, then doodled around until we rode to the crit at 1 p.m. It was hot, hot, hot (high 90s) and really humid as well. I was just glad it wasn’t raining, as this 8-corner crit has a deserved reputation for treacherousness made 10 times worse under wet conditions. We toed up to the line at 3 p.m. with 30 laps of the course ahead of us, and then we were off. I started out way at the back, and John had told me that was farther back than he wanted to see me all day. I started to move up right away, gaining 15 or 20 positions the first lap, another 15 the second, etc. When I had moved into the top 20, I stayed there. This was the first time I had achieved this desired position in a crit, and I soon realized why that’s the place to be: no braking around the turns, smooth acceleration out of them, and less effort to stay on the wheel in front. I was actually feeling pretty comfortable. The sprints every 5 laps kept the pace high, but I was doing fine. I saw Liza up there too, and knew that Kristen was behind in the pack.

With maybe 17 to go, there was a crash on the second chicane (the last turn before the start/finish). I braked as hard as I could without fishtailing, and just barely managed to stop before hitting the rider who’d fallen into the hay bales just in front of me. My momentum had nowhere to go, so I tipped over into the hay bales too. My feet were still clipped in and I considered wrenching myself upright to continue, until I realized my chain was off. A group of at least 12 of us went to the pit for bike checks and free laps.

The race wrapped up with only one other crash, also thankfully minor. Every lap I heard my cheering section yelling “Go Katie!” and it made me smile every time. With 10 to go I was flagging a bit, and with 5 to go I was hurting. All of a sudden it was me leaving gaps out of the turns, and it was all I could do to hold onto the group (dwindled now to about 40 riders). I made it in, though, at the same time as the winners. Phew! John told us after the race that Liza, Kristen, and I had probably gained a position or two in GC just thanks to finishing the race. We’ll have to check the results online tomorrow to be sure.

All in all, it was a more than satisfactory finish to the Tour de ‘Toona for Team Aquafina. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll keep track of our progress as a team. We’re heading for great things, I believe!

Related Articles
International Tour de 'Toona - Aquafina Race Report!
International Tour de 'Toona Stage 5
The Tour de 'Toona - Stage 6

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