By VeloNews Interactive
On Friday, Saturn’s Mark McCormack took Team Mercury by surprise as he sprinted away in the final 400 meters for the day’s stage win at the Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico. Mercury still continues to lead the overall with Chris Wherry and Scott Moninger first and second, but McCormack’s win broke the race stranglehold by the 13-strong Mercury team. In the women’s race, Genevieve Jeanson put on a one-woman show, riding away early and holding off a six-rider chase that included four Saturn riders and Jeannie Longo.
On Thursday, Jeanson’s Rona team set her up perfectly for the final climb up Mogollon Pass, but on Friday’s stage 3, there were few team tactics necessary. On the first of the day’s several climbs, Jeanson powered away from the field, going off on a long solo excursion, while her closest competitor on G.C., Saturn’s Kimberly Bruckner, let Jeanson ride off.
Relying on a “strength in numbers” strategy, Bruckner instead waited for teammates Anna Millward, Jessica Phillips and Ina Teutenberg, and the four Saturns were joined by Longo and one of Jeanson’s teammates, Karen Bockel. But even with that kind of horsepower, the chase group would eventually cede more than a minute and a half to Jeanson by the finish. Bockel, who was content to sit in, came around to take the sprint for second place.
Jeanson now leads the five-day race by 5:42 over Bruckner, with only Saturday’s criterium and Sunday’s Gila Monster road race remaining, and it’s unlikely that anyone will catch her. “Right now I’m feeling very very good,” she said after her third consecutive stage win.
In the men’s race, there was no change in the G.C., as all of the top contenders arrived together in the final group of about 30 riders. Prime Alliance had tried to shake things up early, sending Matt DeCanio out on the break, joined by mountain-biker Carl Swenson. The pair stayed away for about 60 miles on a calm day weather-wise, but they were swept up before the finish, setting up a big bunch sprint.
“Mercury has 13 riders still, so there’s not too much you can do,” said Prime Alliance team director Kirk Willet.
In fact, it did look like an inevitable Mercury win as the team went to the front to set up the lead-out train for sprinter Gord Fraser, but with 400 meters to go, McCormack made his move, going up the opposite side of the road and sprinting to the stage win, just a month after being hit by a car in a training accident.
“It was nice to see him win today,” said his team director, Gianna Roberge.
1. Mark McCormack, Saturn, in 3:07:20; 2. Gord Fraser (Can), Mercury; 3. Alex Candelario, Prime Alliance; 4. Viktor Repinski (Rus), Saturn; 5. Andrew Bajadali, Excel Sports; 6. John Lieswyn, 7UP-Nutra Fig; 7. Chris Wherry, Mercury; 8. Ryan Guay, Navigators; 10. Eric Wohlberg, Saturn, all s.t.;
1. Wherry; 2. Scott Moninger, Mercury, at 0:41; 3. Wohlberg, at 1:33; 4. Danny Pate, Prime Alliance, at 2:22; 5. Lieswyn, at 2:38; 6. Chris Horner, Prime Alliance, at 2:45; 7. Scott Price, Landis-Trek-VW, at 3:02; 8. Bajadali, at 3:31; 9. Tom Danielson, SoBe-Cannondale, at 3:39; 10. Ubaldo Mesa, Tecos Turbo, at 4:05;
1. Genevieve Jeanson (Can), Rona, in 3:34:31; 2. Karen Bockel (G), Rona, at 1:36; 3. Anna Millward (Aus), Saturn; 4. Jeanie Longo (F), Vit’All; 5. Kimberly Bruckner, Saturn, all s.t.; 6. Jessica Phillips, Saturn, at 2:02; 7. Tina Mayolo Pic, Dite Rite; 8. Jennifer Wilson, Mt. Velo-Supergo; 9. Andrea Hannos (Can), Rona; 10. Roz Reekie-May (NZ), Mercy Cycling, all s.t.;
1. Jeanson; 2. Bruckner, at 5:42; 3. Millward, at 8:24; 4. Longo, at 9:08; 5. Cybil Diguistini (Can), Diet Rite, at 14:30; 6. Katrina Berger, T-Mobile, at 14:56; 7. Bockel, at 16:51; 8. Reekie-May, at 17:01; 9. Leah Goldstein (Can), Bianchi USA, at 17:33; 10. Mayolo Pic, at 17:55.