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Kiwis shine at Longsjo TT

David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) rode his way into the leader’s jersey at 51st annual Fitchburg Longsjo Classic on Sunday, while Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) won the stage 3 time trial by 3.3 seconds. In the women’s race, Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci) expanded her GC lead, but Alison Shanks (New Zealand National Team) denied her a third consecutive stage win.

Vennell leads Kiwi double

South African national champion Jay Thomson (Fly V Australia) had the second best time of the day at 17:34, while teammate Darren Rolfe rode the 14.3km Courtyard by Marriott/South Street Time Trial course 1.2 seconds slower than his teammate.

“I felt pretty average at the start but I think it got faster and faster,” said Vennell. “Maybe I had a tailwind. When you went up the first straight it was really rough road, I was wondering if it was going to be like that all day.”

Vennell finished the course, a rolling loop in Westminster, Massachusetts, with a time of 17:31.

This year, the time trial stage shifted to the third day out of four instead of the first day in years past. “I think it’s good, a new dimension,” Vennell said. “I mean, not just controlled by other teams. When you go out for the time trial first you have a strong rider who wins the time trial. Normally they have a strong team and they can defend all the way through to the end. It sort of makes the race like (the Wachusett Road Race) sort of controlled and almost static where everyone just waits until the end.”

Thomson said he’d be happier if he and his teammate, Rolfe, took first and second instead of second and third. However, he is happy with his team’s performance. “We’ve got a really strong team,” said Thomson. “You can always rely on the guys to just be there and help you out when you need them. It’s just great to know you’ve got a thing called mateship on the team and when you go into the race you know the guy standing next to you is going to give everything to help you win, or you’re going to give everything to help him win.”

David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) worked his way up from third to the leader’s jersey with a sixth place time trial performance on Saturday at 17:42. He will defend his yellow leader’s jersey tomorrow at the
Workers’ Credit Union Downtown Criterium, a 55-lap (50-mile) course in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Veilleux leads Thomson in the general classification by five seconds, and Vennell by six.

“I was pretty motivated,” Veilleux said. “I knew I might be better than the guy who was in yellow, so I just tried to go all out and try to steal the GC.”

The previous yellow jersey leader, Aurelien Passeron of Garneau Club Chaussures Ogilvy, finished 20th due to a crucial penalty. He finished with a time of 18:34.81 after an untentional detour that caused him an advantage cost him 20 seconds. This also dropped Passeron to fourth place, and from eight seconds to 28 seconds off Veilleux in general classification.

Shanks trades track for time trial win

Shanks defeated fellow Kiwi Cheatley by less than 12 seconds in the time trial stage on Saturday. “I came over here with the New Zealand track team,” Shanks said. “I’m just doing a bit of road training to complement the track, really. It’s a great way to get some endurance in and work on the intensity. It’s always good to come out and race in America. I love the races here.”

Shanks finished the course in 19:57.03, while Cheatley finished in 20:09.93. Amber Rais (KUOTA Speed Queens), took third at 20:14.

“There’s downhill bits where I just really tried to keep the power down,” Shanks said. “I guess those are the parts where you think you’re going fast, but your power might not be there. So I think you can really gain a lot of time on those gradual downhills into those uphills. But yeah, you know, the hills really hurt. Just a grueling course, really.”

Shanks said having a road race before the time trial fatigued her a bit. “I think I’m definitely feeling the legs today,” Shanks said. “It just kind of wore you down, yesterday. The first few laps were not too bad, but then the pace kind of went on in the second half of the race. Definitely feeling it today.”

Cheatley said she tends to do better on time trials in the middle of tours, since everyone is on a “level playing field.”

“It’s one of those things that depends on how you feel, I guess,” Cheatley said. “You can have good days and bad days and it depends on how hard you can push yourself, I guess.”

Cheatley has a strong hold on the yellow jersey, as she leads teammate Rushlee Buchanan, a New Zealand national champion, by 1:11. Bron Ryan of Verducci Breakaway  trails by 01:19. Ryan finished 10th in the time trial with a time of 20:56.80.

“Obviously we’ll be looking for another stage win and just go out there and have a good hard race,” Cheatley said. “Keep the jersey and keep Kelly (Benjamin) in green.”

Benjamin leads the points competition with a total of 115 after the road race on Sunday. She’ll defend her green jersey in the final stage, a 25-mile, 28-lap criterium in downtown Fitchburg. Cheatley sits five points behind Benjamin, while Kathryn Donovan of Specialized-D4W hangs onto third place with 35 points.

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