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By Chris Milliman
Don’t always believe the rumors. They often prove unreliable.
There were whispers around the pits here in Monterey that Roland Green was sick. The two-time defending world champion withdrew from the Redlands road stage race last week with two stages to go, citing a lingering illness. Green’s would-be challengers at the Sea Otter Classic were licking their chops, believing that the 2002 Sea Otter champ was vulnerable.
But Green (Trek-Volkswagen) stormed Thursday’s five-mile time trial, the opening stage in the four-stage mountain bike stage, showing yet again why he’s the guy with the rainbow stripes across his chest.
“I wasn’t feeling super [last weekend] and I wanted to save it all for this weekend,” admitted Green about his Redlands withdrawal. “The last stage in Redlands can be very hard, and looking at the way it played out I probably wouldn’t even have finished. I took it pretty easy and then yesterday I did one effort and it was there so I knew I did the right thing.”
Chris Sheppard (Haro-Lee Dungarees) finished second, five seconds behind Green but 15 seconds ahead of third placed Mathieu Toulouse (Gear Racing). Canadian men bagged the top six positions in the time trial and seven of the top 10.
On the women’s side, Chrissy Redden, did the right thing by trusting her instincts. Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher) struggled through a difficult late-winter, never feeling as good as she knew she should.
“Three to six weeks ago I felt like I’d been doing a lot of training but not really seeing the increase in fitness, Redden said. “I was struggling on group rides but I didn’t want to get bogged down in my head, you have to do what you know is good for you.”
Instead of panicking, Redden kept her foot on the pedal. Her patience paid off today: Redden beat Sue Haywood (Trek-Volkswagen) by 0.5 second to win the women’s mountain bike time trial.
Haywood pointed out that with 16 women finishing within a minute of Redden, and with time bonuses for stage winners in the criterium and short track, there’s a good chance that the overall general classification could be determined in the closing miles of Sunday’s cross country.
— Defending Sea Otter women’s champion Alison Dunlap (Luna) finished out of the spotlight in 12th, but remains only 36 seconds behind Redden.
— Buoyed by cheers from friends, local Seaside rider Shelly Whisenhant (Velo Bella) pulled off a stunner, finishing fourth in the time trial.
Sobe/Pro Elite MTB Stage RaceStage 1 TT
1. Chrissy Redden, Subaru-Gary Fisher, 20:09
2. Sue Haywood, Trek-Volkswagen, 20:10
3. Barbara Blatter, Specialized, 20:18
4. Shelly Whisenhant, Velo Bella, 20:25
5. Willow Koerber, RLX Ralph Lauren, 20:26
6. Katerina Hanusova, Luna, 20:28
7. Alison Sydor, Trek-Volkswagen, 20:30
8. Melanie McQuaid, Ford Outfitters, 20:32
9. Mary McConneloug, Seven Cycles, 20:33
10. Kelli Emmett, Hillenbrand Racing, 20:34Top 10 GC Women, following Stage 2 MTB Stage Race
1. Chrissy Redden,Subaru-Gary Fisher
2. Susan Haywood, Trek-Volkswagen
3. Barbara Blatter, Specialized
4. Shelly Whisenhant, Velo Bella
5. Alison Dunlap, Luna Women
6. Willow Koerber, RLX Polo Sport
7. Katerina Hanusova, Luna Women
8. Melanie McQuaid, Ford Outfitters
9. Mary McConneloug, Seven Cycles
10. Mary (Lanie) Mason (Cane Creek)Elite Men
1. Roland Green, Trek-Volkswagen, 16:48.8
2. Chris Sheppard, Haro-Lee Dungarees, 16:53.6
3. Mathieu Toulouse, Gears Racing, 17:07.5
4. Ryder Hesjedal, Subaru-Gary Fisher, 17:08.6
5. Geoff Kabush, Kona Clarks Factory, 17:09.3
6. Seamus McGrath, Haro Lee Dungarees, 17:10.5
7. Julien Absalon, Motorex Bianchi, 17:11.9
8. Jose Antonio Hermida, Motorex Bianchi, 17:13.5
9. Andreas Hestler, Rocky Mountain, 17:18.0
10. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, RLX Ralph Lauren, 17:25.5