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By Andrew Hood
Regina Schleicher (Michela Fanini) upset Petra Rossner (Saturn) in the fifth stop of the women’s World Cup when Schleicher out-muscled the favored Rossner on a steep finish of 115-km race in Valladolid, Spain, Sunday.
Rossner, however, finished ahead of third-place Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites) to regain the overall World Cup lead she lost last week at Fleche Wallone.
“I really wanted to win today but Regina was just stronger than me. We were so close over the final 100 meters but I just couldn’t get past her,” Rossner said. “Of course I wanted to win, but she was stronger. My team did everything right for me today. I wasn’t thinking about getting back the World Cup lead. More important was the race victory.”
Schleicher profited by the work of Rossner’s Saturn team and Melchers Farm Frites squad who controlled the bunch throughout the rolling course during a warm, windy day in Spain’s meseta country north of Madrid.
“It was hard against the wind today, but the hills weren’t too hard so it came down to a sprint,” said Schleicher, who won in 2 hours, 55 minutes, 51 seconds with an average speed of 39.409 km/h. “I was really thinking that Petra would win because she is such a stronger sprinter.”
The international field included 27 teams with more than 130 riders, including Rasa Polikeviciute and Diana Ziliute (Acca Due), Nicole Cooke and Joane Somarriba (Deia) and Kanka Kupfernagel (Nurnberger). Most of the teams are staying in town for the five-day Vuelta Castilla y Leon race starting Tuesday this week.
A group of about 50 riders came to the base of the finishing stretch, with included a 5-percent grade finish over the final 500 meters that splintered the leaders coming into the sprint. Schleicher jumped off the front and no one could get around her.
“It’s unfortunate that I lose the jersey today, but I knew Petra would probably get it today because this course suits her more than me,” said Melchers, who credited her Farm Frites team with working hard to control the race. “But it’s a good sign for Montreal, which will be a good race for us.”
The GP Castilla y Leon Feminas was the first World Cup stop for Spain and a large crowd turned out to cheer on the racers, who agreed that bringing more women’s racing to Spain would be good for the sport.
The women’s World Cup continues June 1 in Montreal and then takes a break until August for the final three races.
GP Castilla y Leon Feminas
1. Regina Schleicher, SC Michela Fanini Record Box, 2:55:51 (39.409
2. Petra Rossner, Saturn, s.t.;
3. Mirjam Melchers, Farm Frites, s.t.;
4. Angela Brodtka, German National Team, s.t.;
5. Priska Doppmann, Swiss National Team, s.t.;
6. Hanka Kupfernagel, Nurnberger, at 0:03;
7. Monica Valen, Sponsor Service, s.t.;
8. Miho Oki, Mantes, s.t.;
9. Edita Pucinskaite, Figurella Dream Team, s.t.;
10. Nicole Brandli, Acca Due, s.t.
OTHERS: 40. Mari Holden, USA National team, at 0:26; 47. Amber Neben,
USA National team, s.t.; 56. Lara Ruthven, USA National team, at 0:47