The 2001 HP Women’s Challenge finished in Boise, Idaho on Sunday in a style reflective the way this race has gone over the past 12 days: the Saturn women’s team in control, especially when it counted. Finishing the day’s 55.2-mile final stage from Middleton to Boise, Saturn’s Ina-Yoko Teutenberg grabbed her second stage win of the race while teammate Lyne Bessette cruised across the line in the field having secured a nearly five-minute lead in the final general classification.
The Saturn team in general and Bessette in particular had been in charge ever since the first stage of this 13-stage event, when the team shattered the field in the opening miles of the race. Bessette then stayed with two-time Women’s Challenge winner Jeannie Longo in a long break to Idaho City, taking nearly two-minutes out of the rest of the field in just the opening day.
Add to that the 9:49 advantage gained by five of the team’s six riders on the sixth stage and the race belonged to Bessette and Saturn until the end.
On Sunday, the 77 riders remaining in the race left the small town of Middleton for the HP’s traditional closer in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boise. It was a stage with only a few opportunities for a strong break to form, but little interest in the field for anything but a reasonably quick view of the finish line.
Only the three-quarter-mile climb up Freeze-Out hill did anything to break up the field. And who other than Longo to lead the charge up this race’s final climb. Hunched over her bars in her distinctive hands-on-drops climbing style, Longo moved to the front of the field as soon the terrain rose even slightly.
Longo stayed at front for most of the climb, with a long line of other riders, including of course Bessette, trailing behind. By the top, Longo was among a group of about 20 that might have just stayed out front, had there been the cooperation or interest in making it go.
A large chase group of 30 caught back on within a few miles. Other stragglers reconnected with the field and the pack was soon largely intact and heading for Boise and three laps around a finishing circuit in Hyde Park.
The yellow-black-and-red Saturn colors hovered near the front through the streets of Hyde Park and, sure enough, in the last few hundred meters, a sight many have become familiar with: Saturn’s Petra Rossner giving an unbelievable leadout to her teammate Teutenberg. The combination has proven to be almost unbeatable.
So the 2001 HP Women’s Challenge wraps up Sunday evening with an awards banquet and Lyne Bessette will take home the biggest single chunk of the race’s $128,000 prize list, the overall winner’s check of $12,265.
1. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (G), Saturn, 2:13:13; 2. Petra Rossner (G), Saturn; 3. Vera Hohlfeld (G), Acca Due O Hewlett – Packard; 4. Mirella van Melis (Nl), Dutch National; 5. Judith Arndt (G), German National; 6. Naomi Williams (Aus), Office Depot; 7. Trixi Worrack (G), German National; 8. Angela Brodtka (G), German National; 9. Chantal Beltman (Nl), Dutch National; 10. Meshy Holt (NZ), Boise Cascade Office Products.
1. Lyne Bessette (Can), Saturn, 27:54:40; 2. Judith Arndt (G),German National, at 4:54; 3. Rasa Polikeviciute (Lit), Acca Due O Hewlett – Packard, at 9:55; 4. Petra Rossner (G), Saturn 0:11:49; 5. Jeannie Longo (F), Office Depot, at 12:47; 6. Vera Hohlfeld (G), Acca Due O Hewlett – Packard, at 13:42; 7. Anna Millward (Aus), Saturn, at 14:58; 8. Chantal Beltman (Nl), Dutch National, at 15:03; 9. Ceris Gilfillan (GB), British National, at 18:19; 10. Caroline Alexander (GB), Intersports, at 20:10; 11. Jolanta Polikeviciute (Lit), Acca Due O Hewlett – Packard, at 20:58; 12. Pia Sundstedt (Fin), Intersports, at 22:51; 13. Katrina Berger (USA), AutoTrader.com, at 23:53; 14. Sandy Espeseth (Can), Intersports, at 24:08; 15. Amber Neben (USA), Earthlink, at 24:25.