By VeloNews Interactive
While the stage 4 criterium at the Tour of the Gila had little effect on the general classification, it did a lot to reinforce who’s in charge at this year’s race in New Mexico: Mercury on the men’s side, Rona on the women’s. Not only did the teams keep their respective race leaders, Chris Wherry and Genevieve Jeanson, safe and out of trouble, they also delivered two of the supporting players, Gord Fraser and Karen Bockel, to stage wins.
For Mercury, it was a return to the hey-days, as the lead-out train delivered its Canadian finisher Fraser to the line after a day of hard work. After chasing down a three-man breakaway of Victor Repinski (Saturn), Mark Southard (Trek) and Clark Sheehan (7UP-Nutra Fig) late in the race, Mercury began to wind it up for Fraser. Unlike Friday, which ended with Saturn’s Mark McCormack upsetting Mercury’s plans, things went according to plan on Saturday as Mercury delivered Fraser perfectly, and the Canadian took the team’s third stage win in four days.
In the women’s race, Rona bettered Mercury by one, as it raised its mark to four wins in four days. On Saturday, though, it was finally someone other than Jeanson who took the top spot. At this year’s Tour of the Gila, Rona has turned the tables on the powerful Saturn squad, and in the criterium, Rona had Saturn outnumbered three to one in the final breakaway. With Jeanson, Bockel and Melissa Holt in the winning move, along with Saturn’s Ina Teutenberg, Rona could have its way, and in the end, Jeanson let a gap open up for Bockel, who held off Teutenberg for the win.
Two of the top women on G.C. are out of the race following Saturday’s action. Saturn’s Anna Millward did not start, due to an allergic reaction, while Jeanie Longo crashed out of Saturday’s race. That leaves Saturn’s Kimberly Bruckner, at 5:42 back, the only woman remotely close to Jeanson in the overall. Bockel, third, is more than 16 minutes down.
The five-day race concludes on Sunday with the brutal Gila Monster Road Race.
1. Gord Fraser (Can), Mercury, in 1:36:40; 2. Charles Dionne (Can), 7UP-Nutra Fig; 3. Victor Repinski (Rus), Saturn; 4. Henk Vogels (Aus), Mercury; 5. Mariano Friedick, Jelly Belly; 6. Clark Sheehan, 7UP-Nutra Fig; 7. Jo Lontscharitsch (Mex), Tecos Turbo; 8. John Lieswyn, 7UP-Nutra Fig; 9. Eddy Hilger, Mercy Cycling Team; 10. Kirk Albers, Jelly Belly, all s.t.;
1. Chris Wherry, Mercury, in 9:29:07; 2. Scott Moninger, Mercury, at 0:44; 3. Eric Wohlberg (Can), Saturn, at 1:36; 4. Danny Pate, Prime Alliance, at 2:25; 5. Lieswyn, at 2:38; 6. Chris Horner, Prime Alliance, at 2:48; 7. Scott Price, Landis-Trek-VW, at 3:05; 8. Andrew Bajadali, Excel Sports, at 3:31; 9. Tom Danielson, SoBe-Cannondale, at 3:42; 10. Ubaldo Mesa (Mex), Tecos Turbo, at 4:08;
1. Karen Bockel (G), Rona, in 1:07:08; 2. Ina Teutenberg (G), Saturn, at 0:03; 3. Melissa Holt (NZ), Rona; 4. Genevieve Jeanson (Can), Rona; 5. Tina Mayolo Pic, Diet Rite; 6. Anne Samplonius (Can), Talgo America; 7. Heidi Witherell, Palo Alto Bicycles; 8. Stacey Peters, ICO; 9. Sarah Konrad, Mercy Cycling Team; 10. Roz Reekie-May, Mercy Cycling Team, all s.t.;
1. Jeanson, in 8:37:21; 2. Kimberly Bruckner, Saturn, at 5:42; 3. Bockel, at 16:35; 4. Jessica Phillips, Saturn, at 23:13; 5. Cybil Diguistini (Can), Diet Rite, at 27:03; 6. Katrina Berger, T-Mobile, at 27:29; 7. Reekie May, at 29:34; 8. Leah Goldstein (Can), Bianchi USA, at 30:06; 9. Mayolo Pic, at 30:28; 10. Joan Wilson, Talgo America, at 31:15.