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North Star: Huffman surges into lead in stage 5

Joe Schmalz and Joëlle Numainville take North Star stage victories Saturday, while Evan Huffman and Brianna Walle control the leader's jerseys

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A late breakaway move by Rally’s Evan Huffman and Elevate’s Joe Schmalz paid off in a major way for the duo in Saturday’s fifth stage of the North Star Grand Prix. Schmalz took the stage victory, while Huffman now leads the general classification.

The pair jumped clear of the peloton with a little around 17 miles (27 kilometers) left to go in the 97-mile (156-kilometer) North Mankato Road Race stage after prior breakaway attempts on the lumpy parcours were reeled in.

As Huffman started the stage around half a minute down on GC, both riders saw opportunities to make something of the move, and their concentrated efforts saw them quickly open a hefty gap on the bunch. They held on out front all the way to the finish line, where Schmalz nabbed the stage win.

“It was one of those things where he was going to start sitting on to try to win and I wanted to get as much time as possible,” said Huffman. “The best situation was to make an agreement to ride as hard as we could otherwise we start playing games and on a finish like that where it’s slightly uphill we could have gotten caught just in the last [kilometer] if we started playing around. I just committed and rode all the way to the finish and gave it to him. I think it was the smart play to get the jersey.”

Nicolae Tanovitchii rolled across the line in third 42 seconds later, with the rest of the peloton not far behind.

Huffman now leads the general classification with a 26-second advantage over teammate Rally teammate Brad Huff. Bryan Gomez (Harley-Davidson – Trek), who led the race at the start of stage 5, sits in third, 30 seconds down.

Numainville solos clear of women’s field to take the win

Canadian national champion Joëlle Numainville (Mission Health) nabbed the stage win in the women’s race with a late attack.

The 28-year-old had already been involved in an unsuccessful earlier breakaway move of three riders, but when she jumped clear with 7 miles (11km), no one could bring her back.

“I just wanted to have an aggressive race and make the most of it, so I attacked twice,” said Numainville. “I’m really happy with how I raced.”

Samantha Schneider (ISCorp – SmartChoice MRI) led Coryn Rivera across the line 10 seconds later in the sprint battle for runner-up honors.

Brianna Walle (TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank) finished safely and retains her race lead, with teammate Lauren Stephens four seconds back and Rivera 17 seconds down. Numaimville’s big day saw her jump to fourth overall in the genera collection

The North Star Grand Prix concludes Sunday with the Stillwater Criterium.