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By Andrew J. Bernstein
Near-record setting temperatures sent dust, gravel and rocks flying at the Tour of the Battenkill Valley on Saturday, but racers from the Great White North, perhaps the least adjusted to the heat, managed to dominate the event.
Bruno Langlois, racing for Team Volkswagen, pipped five-time Canadian national champion Mark Walters (Team R.A.C.E.), following an 82-mile event that sent racers over a combination of dirt and paved roads in a quiet corner of New York State.
For Langlois, the win is a validation after a season he might rather forget. His 2007 season ended early when he crashed and fractured his leg in the U.S. Open of Cycling, about one year ago.
“I was off the bike for three months, so now I’m trying to get back into shape,” he said. Langlois rode for Jittery Joe’s in 2006 and AEG-Toshiba JetNetowrk in 2007, and said this season, riding for the amateur Volkswagen team, is all about getting back into shape to make it back into the pro ranks.
For second-place Walters, the result was a little disappointing. “(Langlois) led out the sprint, and I couldn’t come around him,” said Walters.
The event was still a success for the team managed by Tour de France stage winner Steve Bauer.
“We had some young guys covering the moves in the beginning, and that allowed me to get good position,” Walters said.
Animation started early, with four riders going clear over the 18 percent grade on Juniper Swamp Road. As late as a week ago, snow clung to the sides of the road. But Saturday racers encountered a loose mixture of dirt and gravel. Dry conditions sent dust flying into the air, and left some racers — who made the mistake of standing on the climb — running.
The break was reeled in within the last ten miles, on the last section of dirt road. With the four riders in site, Walters attacked, drawing out Langlois. The duo swept by the break with seven miles to go, and pushed for the line. From there it was all Langlois.
Even if his team didn’t win, Bauer said he was happy to make the trip to Salem. “The race has some great terrain, some really interesting aspects,” said Bauer, who finished second in the 1990 Paris-Roubaix. To tackle the dirt roads, Team R.A.C.E. employed Shimano’s scandium WH 77801 SL tubeless wheel set and tubeless tires from Hutchinson.
“The tubeless technology has treated us well,” Bauer said.
Langlois also used 32-spoked wheels and wide tires. “It was great on the dirt, but not that fast on the roads.”
The women’s race
In the women’s Pro1-3 event, Anna Milkowski, riding for Team Advil/Chapstick didn’t wait for her competition to follow her to the line.
“I knew the hardest climbs were in the middle, and that was where the race split up last year, so I wanted to make that selection happen and be there,” said Milkowski.
After the group started to fracture on a flat windy section around mile 15, Milkowski pushed the pace on Meeting House Hill Road, which features three steep dirt rollers. She managed to gap the field, with only Kathleen Billington (Connecticut Coast Cycling) and Anna McLoon (Harvard University Cycling Association) hanging on.
On the last dirt section, a gradual climb followed by a steep paved climb about eight miles from the finish, McLoon flated. With Milkowski driving the pace, Billington was soon dropped. Milkowski powered on to the finish alone.
Pro/1 Men: 82 miles: 92 starters
1)Bruno Langlois, Team Volkswagen
2)Mark Walters, TEAM R.A.C.E. Pro Cycling
3)Joe Whitman, Kelly Benefits/LSV
4)Robbie King, Rite Aid pro Cycling
5)Eric Schildge, Fiordifrutta Cycling Team
6)Eneas Freyre, TARGET TRAINING U-25 Developmental Bicycle Racing
7)Nick Friesen, GS Mengoni USA
8)Keven LaCombe, Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast
9)Dustin McBurnie, TEAM R.A.C.E. Pro Cycling
10)Aidan Charles, Nerac Pro Cycling
Pro1/2/3 Women: 55 miles: 29 starters
1)Anna Milkowksi, Advil/Chapstick
2)Kathleen Billington, Conneticuit Coast Cycling
3)Anna McLoon, Harvard University Cycling Association
4)Natasha Elliott, EMD Serano Steven Cycling
5)Beth Miller, North Atlantic Velo/Classbook.com
6)Silke Wunderwald, Independent Fabrication/Kempner
7)Mary Zider, NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental
8)Karin Homes, CCD/Volkswagon
9)Andrea Myers, Team Kenda Tire
10)Sally Annis, NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental