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By Neal Rogers
Saturn’s Lyne Bessette won the women’s road overall at the Sea Otter Classic in style Saturday, taking the final stage, along with the points jersey, in a two-up sprint against Rona superstar Genevieve Jeanson.
Entering the circuit race with a one-minute, 20-second lead over teammate Kimberly Bruckner, and a comfortable 2:15 over Friday’s road race winner Susan Palmer-Komar (Talgo America), Bessette was poised for the overall victory; however the Saturn women were still without a stage win.
With the assurance of a powerful team her defending her leader’s jersey, Bessette took matters into her own hands early, chasing down an early attack by Katrina Berger (Cannondale) on the steep climb of lap three in the 13 lap, 29-mile circuit race around Laguna Seca’s challenging raceway. Given the day’s wet conditions and the harrowing corkscrew turns, Bessette felt it safer to be out front.
“It was less dangerous to be in a breakaway,” a pleased Bessette told VeloNews. “Katrina attacked first, and she was a threat to the green jersey [of Saturn teammate Judith Arndt], so I went with her.”
Joined by Jeanson and Erin Carter (Total Trainer), the four stayed away, quickly gaining thirty seconds over a field that found itself reduced by the fast pace and controlled by Saturn teammates Arndt and Bruckner. Bessette was content to sit in as Jeanson drove the pace, intent on improving her overall standing after the devastation of Friday’s road race—when she lost eight minutes to Bessette, dropping from first to sixth overall.
By lap six Carter was left behind, and on the next climb Bessette initiated a move to shed Berger from the threesome.
“When we dropped Katrina, I told [Jeanson] I would work,” Bessette explained. “At the same time, I wasn’t really in a position to work too much. If she wanted the stage win, she would have to work for it. She doesn’t give us any chances, so we don’t give her any.”
The two Canadians rode the second-half of the circuit race together, Jeanson doing most of the work while Bessette was happy to take the sprints points, leaving Jeanson the occasional time bonus.
Back in the pack, Bruckner left the field with three laps to go, after muting various attacks from Berger’s Cannondale squad, and soloed away to secure her second-place overall position.
As Bessette and Jeanson came into the final straightaway, Bessette sat smartly on Jeanson’s wheel, waiting for the sprint.
“I knew she was going to try. She started early, thinking that leaving me in the headwind would help her get ahead. That actually worked better for me; I have along sprint that takes a little longer to set up.”
Jeanson, beat by a wheel and a half, would have to settle for second on the day and make the best out of a weekend that started with her setting a course record in the time trial, only to lose it all in the road race. “I should have raced more conservatively yesterday,” she conceded. “But, every race is a learning situation.” Smiling, she added, “I can think of it as a good training day.”
As for Bessette, she leaves Monterey with a stage win, the points jersey, and her first overall victory at the Sea Otter. Not a bad weekend for the Saturn star, who was forced to sit out the event last year due to a broken collarbone.
SEA OTTER CLASSIC ROAD STAGE RACE; Monterey, CA, March 21-24; Laguna Seca Circuit Race; Women;
1. Lyne Bessette; 2. Genevieve Jeanson; 3. Kimberly Bruckner; 4. Karen Bockel; 5. Judith Arndt;
SEA OTTER CLASSIC ROAD STAGE RACE; Monterey, CA, March 21-24; General Classification; Women;
1. BESSETTE, LYNE SATURN 5:46:47;
2. BRUCKNER, KIMBERLY SATURN at 03:03;
3. PALMER-KOMAR, SUSAN TALGO AMERICA at 05:28;
4. BOCKEL, KAREN RONA at 06:33;
5. ANDERSON, KIM CANNONDALE/USA at 07:21;
6. JEANSON, GENEVIEVE RONA at 07:53;
7. ARNDT, JUDITH SATURN at 11:59;
8. HOLDEN, MARI CANNONDALE/USA at 16:26;
9. NEBEN, AMBER CANNONDALE/USA at 18:20;
10. BERGER, KATRINA CANNONDALE/USA at 26:55;
11. PETERS, STACEY BIANCHI USA at 27:46;
12. MAYOLO-PIC, TINA DIET RITE at 28:05;
13. PRYDE, SUSY TALGO AMERICA at 29:10;
14. DEMARS, NICOLE BIANCHI USA at 29:32;
15. EYERMAN, JENNIFER BIANCHI USA at 29:48;
16. CARTER, ERIN TOTAL TRAINER at 29:58;
17. PHILLIPS, JESSICA SATURN at 31:25;
18. JARVIS, AMY RONA at 33:26;
19. KELLY, KORI DIET RITE at 33:32;
20. DIGUISTINI, CYBIL DIET RITE at 33:36;
21. RUTHVEN, LARA CANNONDALE/USA at 33:52;
22. DAVIES, EMMA TOTAL TRAINER at 34:07;
23. COWDEN, DOTSIE CANNONDALE/USA at 34:50;
24. POWERS, CATHERINE TERRY PRECISION CYCLING at 35:47;
25. WILSON, JOAN TALGO AMERICA at 36:34;
26. SAMPLONIOS, ANNE TALGO AMERICA at 37:16;
27. MIRABELLA, ERIN BIANCHI USA at 40:32;
28. SCHWARZ, ERICKA SANTA CRUZ SPOKESMAN at 41:02;
29. CUNNINGHAM, KIMBERLEY SANTA CRUZ SPOKESMAN at 41:05;
30. GONZALEZ DE FERRAT, GABRIELA AMOROSO’S/HH RACING TEAM at 41:09;
31. TRAHAN, GISELLE TOTAL TRAINER at 45:50;
32. DODGE, KAREN CU CYCLING TEAM at 46:05;
33. HANNOS, ANDREA RONA at 47:03;
34. HOLT, MELISSA RONA at 51:48;
35. FELKER, LENORA AMOROSO’S/HH RACING TEAM at 1:00:00;
36. SANBORN, MELISSA CU CYCLING TEAM at 1:01:00;
37. HENDERSON, APRIL VOLER at 1:02:05;
38. FRANGES, LAUREN AMOROSO’S/HH RACING TEAM at 1:02:30;
39. FREEDMAN, NICOLE RONA at 1:03:58;
40. BISARO, IVANA VOLER at 1:04:48;
41. COLEMAN, ROSEMARY TERRY PRECISION CYCLING at 1:06:35;
42. KIESANOWSKI, JOANNE DIET RITE at 1:07:50;
43. CARROLL, CYNTHIA SANTA CRUZ SPOKESMAN at 1:08:06;
44. FOX, ALLYSON AMOROSO’S/HH RACING TEAM at 1:11:36;
45. BABCOCK, AMY SANTA CRUZ SPOKESMAN at 1:12:19;
46. MANACH, CYNTHIA VOLER at 1:13:06;
47. SKELLEY, TINA TALGO AMERICA at 1:25:15;
48. PETOSA, JENNIFER CU CYCLING TEAM at 1:51:38.