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Fraser, Jeanson go 2 for 2 in Tucson

Fierce desert winds couldn’t blow Mercury’s Gord Fraser and Rona’s Genèvieve Jeanson off the podium on Saturday as the two won their second consecutive stages at the 17th annual Tucson Classic. Fraser and Jeanson kicked off the weekend’s racing by winning their respective prologue time trials on Friday – Jeanson by an astounding 46 seconds over the legendary Jeannie Longo (Vitalli) – then punched back in Saturday morning and went straight to work in the Gates Pass Road Race. The tough up-and-down course, a 21-mile circuit with a short 12 percent climb up the backside of Gates Pass, was made

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By Patrick O’Grady

Fierce desert winds couldn’t blow Mercury’s Gord Fraser and Rona’s Genèvieve Jeanson off the podium on Saturday as the two won their second consecutive stages at the 17th annual Tucson Classic.

Fraser and Jeanson kicked off the weekend’s racing by winning their respective prologue time trials on Friday – Jeanson by an astounding 46 seconds over the legendary Jeannie Longo (Vitalli) – then punched back in Saturday morning and went straight to work in the Gates Pass Road Race.

The tough up-and-down course, a 21-mile circuit with a short 12 percent climb up the backside of Gates Pass, was made even tougher by gusty winds and blowing dust that prompted a severe-weather alert from the National Weather Service and caused several pileups in the Pro/I-II men’s 105-miler, shattering the field into smaller clusters.

One such, a group that included Fraser and teammates Michael Sayer, Plamen Stoyanov and Phil Zajicek, escaped the wind-battered field, and the Canadian sprinter was first to the line ahead of Ubaldo Mesa (Tecos Turbo) and Mariano Friedick (Jelly Belly), winning the second of the weekend’s three stages and collecting 25 seconds in time-bonus cushion for his pains.

In the 65-mile Women I-III race, free for a change of the powerful Saturn team that has been running her ragged elsewhere, Jeanson pulled her patented “catch me if you can” move, riding away from the field just a dozen miles into the day and cruising to victory … by minutes this time, not mere seconds. “My God, she is superhuman,” said race director Steve Bohn.

Rona’s Melissa Holt wouldn’t claim second place until more than10 minutes later, just three seconds ahead of Susan Haywood (Trek-Volkswagen. Longo rolled in fourth, nearly 11 minutes down on the day.

Sunday’s finale, the Speedway/Artisan Prosthetics Circuit Race, takes place on a rolling 5.6-mile loop with 300 feet of climbing per lap. The pro men will race for 56 miles, the women 45. The first three places will receive time bonuses of 15, 10 and five seconds, respectively, and the third lap will include a time-bonus sprint good for 10 seconds to the winner and five to the runner- up … though it’ll take more than that for anyone to catch Jeanson, who will toe the start line with an overall lead of 11:43 on her teammate Holt and 12:05 on Longo.

Fraser, meanwhile, has a lead of 32 seconds over second-placed Friedick and 36 over teammate Stoyanov … one of five Mercurys in the top 10 overall.

VeloNews.com will post results and a short race report as soon as they become available.