By Neal Rogers
The powerhouse that is the Saturn’s Women Cycling Team swept the Stanley Time Trial at the H.P. Women’s Challenge Monday, with Judith Arndt taking the third stage and teammate Anna Millward three seconds back, remaining in the overall lead. It is the third consecutive Saturn victory at this year’s Women’s Challenge.
National TT champion Kimberly Bruckner finished in second, just one tick of the clock off Arndt’s pace.
Conditions on the false flat 40 km out-and-back course were cool and windy, embarking into a strong headwind and returning with a crossed up tailwind. In customary time trial format, riders lined up to start one minute apart, in reverse order of the overall standings. The top 10 women were spaced two minutes apart, with Millward atop the GC heading out last.
As the final riders flew in less than an hour later, at wind-assisted speeds of nearly 35 mph, it became clear that Saturn had not only won the stage, but are poised to take the GC. As results were posted, the mood around the Saturn camp was celebratory: it seems the question is now not what team will take the overall, but which Saturn woman?
“There are so many different ways we can play it” Bruckner told VeloNews. “It doesn’t matter who wins, really. We say it, but we honestly mean it.”
As for Millward, she’s happy to begin Tuesday’s stage wearing the leader’s jersey, which she had to forego Monday in lieu of her TT skinsuit.
While placings of the top ten on the demanding stage weren’t overly unexpected, a few time gaps raised a few eyebrows, particularly the 1:09 back of Rona’s Genevieve Jeanson. Jeanson, the 1999 junior world champion time trialist that has seen fit to blow apart the opening TT at this year’s Redlands and Sea Otter stage races, was having an off-day.
“[The wind] blew me away,” Jeanson said while cooling down on her trainer. “A couple of times I was wobbling. Logically, [the winds] favor a bigger rider, but it’s not why I didn’t win. I wasn’t at a disadvantage, I don’t think. I just wasn’t having my best day today.”
Behind Jeanson on the stage, and the overall, is defending champion Lyne Bessette, who remains optimistic about her chances against her former team.
“I tried to have a good rhythm,” Bessette said after the windy ride. “It’s been a while since I did a time trial. Solano [in late-March] was the last one, so I’m pretty happy. The wind was definitely as factor, and my position wasn’t as good as other girls. I’m not so far back, and there’s still a lot of racing coming up.”
The most significant drop on the GC today was that of Lithuania’s world champion Rasa Polikeviciute, who started the day tied with Millward for first overall, and finished the day in ninth, 3:15 down.
The revelation of Sunday’s road race, Goldy’s Kristin Armstrong, dropped from fifth to tenth in the overall, and now sits 3:28 back.
Stage Three Results, Stanley Individual Time Trial
1. Judith Arndt, Saturn, 25 miles in 53:31 (28.03 mph)
2. Kimberly Bruckner, Saturn, at 0:01.
3. Anna Millward, Saturn, at 0:03.
4. Genevieve Jeanson, Rona, at 1:09.
5. Lyne Bessette, Canadian National, at 1:35.
6. Amber Neben, T-Mobile, at 1:49.
7. Valentina Polkhanova, Itera, at 2:11.
8. Petra Rossner, Saturn, at 2:21.
9. Leah Goldstein, Boise, at 2:31.
10. Diana Ziliute, Lithuanian National, at 3:10.
11. Mari Holden, T-Mobile, at 3:15.
12. Rasa Polikeviciute, Lithuanian National, at 3:18.
13. Kristin Armstrong, Goldy’s, at 3:22.
Overall General Classification after three stages
1. Anna Millward, Saturn, 6:18:24.
2. Kimberly Bruckner, Saturn, at 0:14.
3. Judith Arndt, Saturn, at 0:58.
4. Genevieve Jeanson, Rona, at 1:13.
5. Lyne Bessette, Canadian National, at 2:00.
6. Amber Neben, T-Mobile, at 2:04.
7. Valentina Polkhanova, Itera, at 2:14.
8. Petra Rossner, Saturn, at 3:09.
9. Rasa Polikeviciute, Lithuanian National, at 3:15.
10. Kristin Armstrong, Goldy’s, at 3:28.
11. Leah Goldstein, Boise, at 3:29.
12. Diana Ziliute, Lithuanian National, at 4:02.
13. Mari Holden, T-Mobile, at 4:13.