By VeloNews Interactive
From the start, the Tour of Greater Montreal was a battle of seconds– or tenths of seconds — decided by intermediate sprints, timebonuses and tie breakers. That’s why the overall standings of Canada’snewest stage race for women has the top three riders listed has havingthe same time. But having won two of the event’s three stages gave LauraVan Gilder (Trek Plus VW) the edge in the final break down.Van Gilder, U.S. criterium champion for 2000, won Tuesday’s closingstage, a relatively flat 113 km road race, edging out Clara Hughes (ÉquipeQuébec) and Anna Millward (Saturn) in a sprint.The stage covered two laps of a 56.5 km loop punctuated only by twoshort climbs toward the end of the lap. The race was aggressive from thestart. Before the 10-km mark, Sylvie Riedele (CA Mantes la Ville) had triedto escape and built a 40-second lead. But her effort didn’t survive evento the first bonus sprint – the race leaders were determined to get theseprecious bonus seconds. Hughes, Bessette and Van Gilder, in that order,shared the first bonus seconds of the day.It was still a tight contest as Demet took the day’s second sprint andits three-second prize, while Bessette got a two-second bonus and Van Gilderanother one. The third sprint was located at the top of the first climb,after 52 kilometers of racing. Jeanson and Bessette climbed hard to getthe bonus. So hard, in fact, that that when the two reached the top, theywere by themselves.“When we crossed the sprint line, we looked back and saw the gap”, recalledJeanson after the race. “We decided to hit the pedals. We didn’t talk,we just went for it.”Thanks to another short climb, the two added space between them andthe hundred-strong main field. Bessette and Jeanson increased their leadto 31 seconds. But that was the extent of it, as other teams in contention– Demet-Barry’s TalgoAmerica.com squad, Van Gilder’s Trek Plus VW teamand Millward’s Saturn team – moved to the front of the field and reeledin the two escapees by the 81st kilometer.With the nearly riders still together as the finish line neared – andGC still to be determined by fractions of a second – the field sprint wasbeginning to take on major significance. But a crash in the closing kilometer split the field, allowing only 27 riders to get past. Jeanson was caught behind the crash, losing an insurmountable 10 seconds. Van Gilder and the other top contenders, however, were among those who were ahead of the incident and were still left to fight out the final sprint.Van Gilder, who took the sprint win in Monday’s criterium, notched anotherwin, scooting ahead of Hughes and Millward for the stage win and the overalltitle.
1. Laura Van Gilder (USA) Trek Plus VW, 113 km in 2:42:53 (40.87 kph)
2. Clara Hughes (CAN) Équipe Québec, s.t.
3. Anna Millward (AUS) Saturn Timex, s.t.
4. Belem Mendez Guerrero (MEX) Équipe Mexique, s.t.
5. Deirdre Demet-Barry (USA) TalgoAmerica.com, s.t.
6. Rosa Bravo Soba (SP) Équipe Espagne, s.t.
7. Jorunn Kvalö (NOR) Team Sponsor, s.t.
8. Erin Carter (CAN) Composite, s.t.
9. Sylvie Riedle (FRA) C.A. Mantes la Ville, s.t.
10. Melissa Holt (NZ) RONA, s.t.
1. Laura Van Gilder (USA) Trek Plus VW, 3:56: 45
2. Deirdre Demet-Barry (USA) TalgoAmerica.com, s.t.
3. Clara Hughes (CAN) Équipe Québec, s.t.
4. Anna Millward (AUS) Saturn Timex, at 0:06
5. Lyne Bessette (CAN) Équipe Québec, at 0:07
6. Erin Carter (CAN) Composite, 0:14
7. Geneviève Jeanson (CAN) RONA, 0:15
8. Melissa Holt (NZ) RONA, 0:20
9. Amber Neben (USA) Team T-Mobile, 0:21
10. Amy Jarvis (CAN) RONA, 0:25