By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Eight days after breaking the time trial course record at the Redlands Classic, Rona’s Genevieve Jeanson was at it again on Thursday, taking down the all-time mark at the opening stage of the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California.
Jeanson sailed around the Sea Otter’s 17-mile time trial circuit in 42:50, setting a new course record and putting 1:27 into Saturn’s Kimberley Bruckner, who came across in second despite suffering a puncture. The rest of the top five included Saturn riders Lyne Bessette (at 1:34) and Judith Arndt (at 2:06), and Cannondale-USA’s Mari Holden (at 3:12).
Meanwhile, in the men’s race, the outcome was unknown for several hours following the event because of a problem with the computer-chip timing system. When things were finally sorted out US Postal’s David Zabriskie was the man on top, making his way around the same 17-mile circuit in 38:20. Right on Zabriskie’s wheel was the man of the moment, Prime Alliance’s Chris Horner, who took second place in the opening stage of the Sea Otter just days after his impressive overall win at the Redlands Classic.
The rest of the men’s top five went Saturn’s Eric Wohlberg (at 0:17), Adham Sbeih (Mercury), at 0:24, and Mercury’s Scott Moninger, at 0:55. Last year’s overall Sea Otter winner Trent Klasna (Saturn) wound up eighth, at 1:19.
Jeanson’s win meant another battle between her Rona squad and the heretofore unbeatable Saturn women, who have taken wins in the first two World Cups of 2002, plus Australia’s Tour de Snowy and Redlands.
“This is déjà vu from last week,” said Saturn team manager Giana Roberge, whose squad was forced to chase down Jeanson after her opening TT win last week as well. “But obviously we’ve proven that bringing back 1 or 2 minutes isn’t extraordinary for this team.”
The real hurdle for Roberge may be deciding which of her strong stable of riders will be chosen to lead that chase.
“Judith is really tired right now,” said Roberge of the winner of Snowy and Redlands. “This might be Lyne’s week. She’s really keen right now.”
Despite Saturn’s ample arsenal, members of the Rona team were at least putting forth an air of confidence following their team leader’s win.
“It’s an awesome challenge for us,” said New Zealander Melissa Holt. “But road racing is so unpredictable. Anything can happen, so we’re not conceding anything.”
As for Zabriskie’s win, it came as a bit of a surprise, especially to his team manager, Frankie Andreu, who was envisioning a big win for Horner prior to the race.
“The guy is levels above everybody else right now,” Andreu said of Horner. “The rest of us may be racing for second place.”
Though not particularly long, the Sea Otter TT course was definitely no soft pedal. Out of the start-house riders immediately faced a short climb up the Laguna Seca racetrack. Following a quick downhill and a series of rollers, the course left Laguna Seca and headed out into the surrounding hills.
“It’s a really hard course,” said Bessette. “There’s never any real breaks and the pavement’s not so great.”
Like it or not, Bessette and the rest will be back out on those same roads on Friday when racing continues with the Fort Ord Road Race. The men will cover 115 miles, while the women do 77.
Check back to VeloNew.com for a full report and results.
— The scariest moment of the day came when a cameraman for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation fell out of the Dodge minivan he was filming from. According to the driver of the car, the cameraman was wearing his seatbelt but it gave way after a sudden acceleration. Fortunately for the victim, lacerations to his arms and legs appeared to be the extent of his injuries.
— According to a race official, the timing snafu was caused by riders from the USPS team, who placed their timing chips on their helmets instead of their ankles.
— Saturn’s Anna Millward remains out of action with a leg injury. Roberge says the team has targeted April’s Fleche Wallonne for her return. Millward won the Sea Otter TT in 2001, and went on to take the overall title.
SEA OTTER CLASSIC ELITE ROAD STAGE RACE; Monterey, CA, March 21-23; Time Trial; Women; 1. Genevieve Jeanson (Can), Rona, 17 miles in 42:50; 2. Kim Bruckner, Saturn, at 1:27; 3. Lyne Bessette (Can), Saturn, at 1:34; 4. Judith Arndt (G), Saturn, at 2:06; 5. Mari Holden, Cannondale-USA, at 3:12; 6. Karen Bockel, Rona, at 4:02; 7. Katrina Berger, Cannondale-USA, at 4:08; 8. Amber Neben, Cannondale-USA, at 4:24; 9. Susan Palmer-Komar, Talgo-America, at 4:27; 10. Stacey Peters, Bianchi-USA, at 4:35
Men; 1. David Zabriskie, USPS, 17 miles in 38:20; 2. Chris Horner, Prime Alliance, at 0:13; 3. Eric Wohlberg (Can), Saturn, at 0:17; 4. Adham Sbeih, Mercury, at 0:24; 5. Scott Moninger, Mercury, at 0:55; 6. Chris Wherry, Mercury, at 1:12; 7. Damon Kluck, Saturn, at 1:17; 8. Trent Klasna, Saturn, at 1:19; 9. Plamen Stoyanov (Bul), Mercury, at 1:24; 10. Phil Zajicek, Mercury, at 1:30