By Rob Jones, VeloNews Interactive Correspondent
A field of the continent’s top riders were readying for a 19km time trial on Saturday, August 25, when warm-ups were interrupted by the day’s buzz: Geneviève Jeanson (Rona) was abandoning the race. Rumor was confirmed as fact when Jeanson’s directeur sportif Andre Aubut announced that his star rider would not be starting the TT in Bedford.
In a statement, Aubut said that Jeanson experienced pain on the back of her right thigh. The decision was made a few minutes into Jeanson’s warm-up when the pain and discomfort became obvious.
“Geneviève wanted to start in spite of the pain, but it would have been unwise”, said André Aubut. “We don’t know what the problem is exactly, but no matter what it is, we must not worsen it.”
While extremely disappointed, Jeanson agreed that her coach’s decision was the right one. “I could have started, but most likely I would have had to stop after a few kilometers. But it’s the first time I (have) drop(ped) out of a race, and I hate the feeling”, she explained.
Saturn’s Lyne Bessette won the stage, her second in a row, completing the circuit in 25:19 for an average speed of 45.03 kilometers per hour. Amber Neben took second place, 7 seconds back, but Pia Sundstedt had the third best time of the day, which was more than enough to take over the GC leader’s Golden jersey. Her lead after the stage over Anke Erlank was 21 seconds. Bessette moved into third overall, but was still 1:18 down.
The 40 kilometer fifth stage criterium had no effect on the general classification, but Saturn continued to rack up the stage victories, with Petra Rossner outkicking the always present Nicole Cooke after the pair broke away with stage 1 winner Julie Young and Melissa Holt halfway into the stage.
AutoTrader.com’s Amber Neben won the final 90 kilometer stage in impressive style, after being out front for all but the first 10 kilometers. Neben was joined, shortly after establishing a gap, by Rachel Heal (Great Britain) and Holt. Clara Hughes (Saturn), in a rare cycling appearance this season, chased with Nicole Freedman (Credit Suisse First Boston) for 50 kilometers, but couldn’t get closer then 2 minutes. With 20 kilometers to go, and with the gap to the peloton approaching 5 minutes, the chase started in earnest. Hughes and Freedman were quickly gobbled up, and it looked like the break’s time at the front was about to end.
However, Neben fought back, dropping her breakaway companions on the first of two remaining climbs to solo in 2 minutes in front of the next rider. Heal managed to hang on and finished alone in second, with Bessette third, 3 minutes down. Sundstedt and Erlank finished together, a few seconds behind Bessette, thus preserving the general classification.
Lyne Bessette won the green sprinter’s jersey, while Nicole Cooke was awarded both the yellow Best Young Rider (under 23) jersey and the white climber’s jersey.
Stage 4: Bedford ITT
1. Lyne Bessette (CAN) Saturn Timex 19 km in 25:19; 2. Amber Neben (USA) Autotrader.com at 0:07; 3. Pia Sundstedt (FIN) Intersports 0:31; 4. Katrina Berger (USA) Autotrader.com 0:38; 5. Clara Hughes (CAN) Saturn Timex 0:48
Stage 5: Cowansville Criterium, 40 km
1 Petra Rossner (Ger) Saturn Cycling Team 59:46; 2 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Great Britain;3 Julie Young (USA) Autotrader.com;4 Melissa Holt (NZl) Rona all s.t.; 5 Nicole Freedman (USA) Credit Suisse First Boston
Stage 6: Sutton to Mont-Sutton, 90.3 km
1. Amber Neben (USA) Autotrader.com 90.3 km in 2:31:29;2. Rachel Heal (GBR) GBR Nationals at 1:50; 3. Lyne Bessette (Can) Saturn Timex 2:59; 4. Sara Symington (GBR) GBR Nationals 3:03; 5. Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Intersports 3:07;6. Anke Erlank (RSA) Saturn Timex s.t.; 7. Nicole Cooke (GBR) GBR Nationals 3:31; 8. Manon Jutras (Can) RONA 3:41; 9. Susan Palmer Komar (Can) Intersports 3:44;10. Julie Young (USA) Autotrader.com 3:47.
1. Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Intersports 12:26:35; 2. Anke Erlank (RSA) Saturn Timex at 0:21; 3. Lyne Bessette (CAN/Saturn Timex 1:06; 4. Katrina Berger (USA) Autotrader.com 4:55; 5. Nicole Demars (Can) 800.com 6:20; 6. Julie Young (USA) Autotrader.com 7:15; 7. Nicole Cooke (GBR) GBR Nationals 8:16;8. Sara Symington (GBR) GBR Nationals 9:45; 9. Manon Jutras (Can) RONA 9:53; 10. Leah Toffolon (USA) Amoroso/Tristate 10:45.