Saturn’s Lyne Bessette moved into the overall lead of the HP Women’s Challenge as she beat race leader Jeannie Longo (Office Depot) in a short head-to-head time trial near the edge of the Sun Valley resort area Saturday morning.
This style of stage is unique to the HP and a favorite of race director Jim Rabdau, pitting closely matched GC riders against one another in a side-by-side, no drafting time trial. Riders earn a five-second time bonus for beating her opponent and additional bonuses for catching riders who started 30 seconds ahead.
Beginning with last place GC rider (who rode with a non-competitor), , the 89 riders remaining in this year’s Women’s Challenge paired up to cover a short, hilly 3.2-mile course at 30-second intervals.
There were strong performances as they hour wore on, but the stage and the overall standings came down to the last pair: Bessette and Longo. Longo began the day with a six-second advantage over Bessette. The Saturn shot out from the start, moved to the front and stayed there. It seemed that young Canadian nearly erased her six-second deficit over the course of the first mile.
Unofficial results By the end, Bessette had covered the 3.2 miles 12 seconds faster than Longo, earning a five second time bonus on top of that.
The now deposed race leader said she had been tired from the efforts of the past few days.
“I started out slowly and I finished slowly,” Longo said with a laugh.
But her performance wasn’t all that slow. Results show that Longo actually finished second to Bessette, edging out third-placed Kimberly Bruckner (Saturn) by about two seconds.
The 42-year-old Longo added that she is somewhat relieved that she no longer has the responsibility of defending the leader’s jersey, at least for the time being.
“It adds a lot of pressure,” she said. “I can relax a little and concentrate on doing my best.”
Bessette now assumes the overall lead of the HP Challenge, though her lead must be immediately defended as the race continues with a hilly 28-mile circuit race around Sun Valley’s Elkhorn Resort.
Check back for a report on this evening’s circuit race, scheduled to end at about 8:00 p.m. (MDT).
1. Lyne Bessette (Can), Saturn, 7:03.408; 2. Jeannie Longo (F), Office Depot, 7:16.368; 3. Kimberly Bruckner (USA), Saturn, 7:18.400; 4. Anna Millward(Aus), Saturn, 7:21.002; 5. Katrina Berger(USA), AutoTrader.com, 7:22.051; 6. Alison Dunlap (USA), Boise Cascade Office Products, 7:23.405; 7. Petra Rossner(G), Saturn, 7:24.170; 8. Sarah Ulmer(NZ), AutoTrader.com, 7:24.678; 9. Judith Arndt(G), German National, 7:26.853; 10. Amber Neben (USA), Earthlink, 7:29.729.
Overall after 4 stages
1. Bessette, 7:47:38; 2. Longo, at 0:12; 3. Arndt, at 1:43; 4. Bruckner, at 1:49; 5. Rasa Polilkeviciute, at 2:12.