Monday, March 19, 2012

San Dimas Stage Race 2012, Stage 3: The Women...

The women's pro/cat 1-3 contest was the penultimate race of the day, and proved to be well worth it for all those spectators who came out of the woodwork, or wherever they could find shelter from the cold, to watch the professionals and top amateurs go at it. The ongoing sky battle between sun and clouds took a turn in favor of the clouds during the women's race, becoming a little more ominous, the wind increasing, but other than a few drops, no real rain fell. As a result we got to witness pure racing action without distraction. 

Kristin Armstrong (yellow jersey), Clara Hughes (green jersey) lead out at the start

Race leaders and other notables were called to the front of the line, the whistle blew, and the race was underway with Kristin Armstrong, Clara Hughes, and Pascale Schnider leading out from the start. After, at best, a couple laps of riding together, a five rider break went clear. A little more time and the final selection of four was determined as one rider fell off the pace. The quartet was a strong group, perfectly capable of staying away for the duration; the only question was, would the peloton let them, or was there enough strength, and will, left to close the gap. With four strong teams represented in the break, it seemed unlikely that the gap would disintegrate.

the break is away, with Pascale Schnider driving at the front

Kristin Armstrong worked to control the field for Schnider...

while Clara Hughes did the same for Teutenberg

At one point the gap did start to fall, but then the four leaders - Pascale Schnider, Ina Yoko Teutenberg, Anne Samplonius and, Jade Wilcoxson, most likely with a little help from their teams behind, began to widen the gap again. I never did see any real serious attempt to bridge up. I attribute that to teamwork in the main field. With teammate Schnider in the break, Armstrong and the Exergy Twenty12 women were working to control the field. The same could be said of Teutenberg's teammate, Clara Hughes and the rest of the Specialized lululemon team. Throw in the NOW and Novartis for MS teammates of Samplonius, and the riders of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies working in support of Jade Wilcoxson, and you eventually realized it was a four woman race. 

The lead four near the top of the course...

with the peloton spread across the road as they climb up.

the break of four, led up by Wilcoxson, followed by Samplonius, Schnider, Teutenberg

Anne Samplonius

Ina Yoko Teutenberg

Jade Wilcoxson

Pascale Schnider

I post this one because it came out especially crisp,
though I am not sure of the name of this Team TIBCO rider.

Late in the race, and with the four leaders assured of victory, NOW and Novartis for MS rider, Olivia Dillon, the 2010 Irish National Road Champion, attempted to get away from the peloton. She managed two or three laps of solo effort, before being brought back into the fold. In the end, Ina Yoko Teutenberg proved the strongest, outsprinting Wilcoxson and Schnider, with Samplonius two seconds back. Optum rider Joelle Neumainville won the field sprint eighteen seconds behind the leaders.

What did this mean in terms of the General Classification competition? Well, Kristin Armstrong held on for first overall and is thus the 2012 SDSR women's champion. Clara Hughes finished second, with Joelle Numainville third. In the Sprint competition (green jersey), Kristin Armstrong again finished on top with 70 points, Ina Yoko Teutenberg was second with 50 points, and Clara Hughes was third with 40 points. Clara Hughes won the KOM with 60 pts, ahead of Armstrong (50 pts) and Numainville with 25 pts.

Olivia Dillon going solo

the quartet cross the line with one to go

the only shot I could manage of Teutenberg winning. Bloody photographers - the competition for position to get the shot is almost as fierce as the competition for position in the sprint; lets see how much of the road we can take up, and how close to the line we can get. Ugghh.

Even though the women get the feature post for the 3rd stage, it does not mean that I don't have a lot from the other races of the day. With a little luck they will be up sometime tomorrow.

Finally, yes there were other teams represented in the race. If you click here you will be taken to a slideshow of other photos where there are pics of racers from SC Velo/Empower Coaching, Vanderkitten-Focus, FCS/Rouse p/b Mr. Restore, Primal/MapMyRide Women's Racing, Helens, Velo Club LaGrange, and others.

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