By Kirsten Begg , VeloNews correspondent
Foreign riders won both the men’s and women’s races of the second leg of the four-race BMC Software Grand Prix in Arlington, Massachusetts, Sunday. In the end, it was Mercury-Viatel’s Australian Baden Cooke taking the 62-mile men’s race and Canadian Lyne Bessette of Saturn winning the 42-mile women’s race.
The women’s race kicked off the day, although many of the riders thoughts were anywhere but on the race as they struggled to face the memories of this event last year when Saturn rider Nicole Reinhart was killed in a crash.
“Our goal is just to celebrate Nicole’s life and get through the day,” explained Saturn team manager Gianna Roberge.
The atmosphere at the start was tense and it showed when a crash occurred in the first mile. It split the field and took many riders out of contention including Autotrader.com’s Pam Schuster and Tina Mayolo.
Mayolo, who won this race last year while unaware of the fatal injuries suffered by Reinhart, rode on, eventually finishing 37th.
The technical course and the intense speed soon had riders focused on the race. With almost a mile of climbing on only a 3.5 mile lap, there was no opportunity for recovery.
The climb thinned out the field with the battle for the QOM at the water tower ensuring that the pace remained relentless throughout the day. Roz Reekie May took the first six QOM, with Saturn’s Lyne Bessette and Intersport’s Pia Sunstedt in close attendance at each one.
The seventh time up the climb Bessette and Pia Sunstedt (Intersports) escaped with Amber Neben (Autotrader.com), Roz Reekie-May (Independent) and Saturn’s Anna Milward. Neben, Reekie May and Sunstedt were outnumbered by Saturn and it was the Finn Sunstedt who took the initiative with a little under two laps to go, attacking hard on the final climb. Only Bessette could cover and the two riders quickly had a 15-second gap and a rapid descent down to the final flat 350 meters.
In the sprint, Sunstedt was outclassed by Bessette, who took the win with a time of 2:10:00. Bessette’s teammate Millward, who later explained Saturn’s goal to be the world’s No. 1 women’s team by year end, led in the three breakaway companions to make an all-foreign podium and clinch enough points to take the lead in both the BMC Series, and the Pro Cycling Tour.
Saturn’s Ina Teutenberg, who won the opening leg in Austin, took the field sprint three minutes back to round out a fitting tribute to Reinhart.
The men’s field included Pro Cycling Tour leader Trent Klasna (Saturn) and BMC series leader Vassili Davidenko (Navigators). There was also a couple of welcome returns to the peloton: U.S. Postal rider Dylan Casey (broken pelvis) and Saturn’s Tim Johnson (broken collarbone).
Mercury-Viatel’s Chris Horner broke away on the eighth lap. Horner built a two-minute lead and soaked up eight KOM’s to win himself the $1,000 prize on offer for best climber.
The chase from the field was slow but steady. Navigators initially put in the work with Chris Baldwin, Kirk O’Bee and Davidenko, and as soon as it showed progress, they were joined by Saturn.
With four laps of 18 to go Horner’s lead was whittled to just under one minute, and one lap later he sat up. The race was wide open again, and Canadian Michael Barry (Saturn), not fancying his chances in the sprint, made a move on the penultimate climb. Only Davidenko and Mercury’s Baden Cooke able to stay with Barry. John Hamblen from local team Cannondale-Wheelworks bridged to the group on the final climb.
Barry led out the group toward the finish before Cooke and Davidenko put their speed on display. The duo blazed past with Cooke taking the win ahead of the Russian, who couldn’t get into his 53×11 when it really mattered. Barry finished third, rounding out another all foreign sweep with Hamblen getting the best U.S. placing of the day in fourth place.
The BMC Software Grand Prix continues in early September, with the San Rafael Classic September 8th and the 140-mile San Francisco Grand Prix for the men September 9th.
The PCT continues August 26th with the Chris Thater Memorial men’s and women’s races in Binghamton, NY.
BMC Software Tour of Arlington, Arlington, MA. July 8.
1. Lyne Bessette (Saturn), 43mi in 2.10.00; 2. Pia Sunstedt (Intersports), same time; 3. Anna Millward (Saturn) at :37; 4. Roz Reekie May (Independents), 5. Amber Neben (Autotrader.com), s.t.; 6. Julie Young (Autotrader.com), at 2.48; 7. Ina Teutenberg (Saturn), at 3.07; 8. Sarah Ulmer (Autotrader.com), 9. Andrea Hannos (Verizon Wireless), 10. Laura Van Gilder (Verizon Wireless), s.t.
BMC leader: Anna Milward
Pro Cycling Tour leader: Anna Milward
Men: 1. Baden Cooke (Mercury-Viatel), 62mi in 2.51.55; 2. Vassili Davidenko (Navigators), 3. Michael Barry (Saturn) 4. Jon Hamblen (Cannondale-Wheelworks), s.t.; 5. Kirk O’Bee (Navigators), at 0.33; 6. Derek Bouchard-Hall (Mercury-Viatel), 7. Chris Horner (Mercury-Viatel), 8. Mark Walters (Navigators), 9. John Lieswyn (7UP-Colorado Cyclist). all s.t.
BMC Series Leader: Davidenko and Cooke tied on 39 points each.
Pro Cycling Tour leader: Klasna