She may have been biding her time in Arizona, rather than defending her title at Australia’s Tour de Snowy, but the lack of travel certainly hasn’t hurt Genevieve Jeanson. The 19-year-old Canadian blasted her way to the top of Riverside’s Mt. Rubidoux to take the opening stage of the 2001 Redlands Bicycle Classic and, coincidentally setting the stage for a win by her countryman, mountain-bike racer Roland Green, in the elite men’s event of this Southern California season opener.
Jeanson (Rona) took on a strong women’s field — including 2001 Tour de Snowy winner Kim Bruckner (Saturn) and 2000 Redlands winner Alison Dunlap (GT) — and finished in convincing style, earning 20-second victory margin over Saturn’s Lyne Bessette and 31 seconds clear of Bruckner.
The 5km opening time trial replaces Redland’s traditional street sprints as the kick-off to this six-day event. For many it was welcome change, especially given this new short, steep course that wound its way through residential neighborhoods and finished atop the open slopes of Mt. Rubidoux.
Jeanson said Redlands was a perfect test after spending most of February contesting — and winning — a series of smaller early season races in the southwestern U.S. After having turned down a few lucrative offers for the 2001 season Jeanson has formed her own team, focused largely on North American races, with an eye toward road world’s at the end of the season.
“I am still under 20-years-old,” Jeanson said after her race. “I have a lot to learn. That’s why I’m here. I can race in Europe later.”
While Jeanson — the 1999 dual world junior road and time trial champion — was expected to be a big factor in this event, Green’s top finish was something of a pleasant surprise both for him and for the U.S. Postal team’s new domestic director sportif, Frankie Andreu.
Green, who just signed a two-year contract with the Volkswagen-Trek mountain bike team, had “begged” his way onto the Postal squad for Redlands in hopes of capping off a strong winter training program and entering the mountain-bike World Cup season in top form. Working with Volkswagen-Trek director Chad Moore, Green took advantage of the mutual Trek sponsorship of the two squads and joined up with Postal for Redlands.
Green finished five seconds up on his temporary teammate Levi Leipheimer and another one second ahead of Saturn’s Trent Klasna.
“I think it may be that because my season starts so much earlier — I have a World Cup coming up in a few weeks — that I come to this race in top form,” Green said. “My season’s about to kick into high gear.”
Green smiled and shrugged when asked if he would fight to keep the leader’s jersey over the course of the next few days.
“Keep the jersey? Sure, but not on me,” Green said. “I’ll do my best to keep in Postal, but I can’t expect these guys to sacrifice for me. This isn’t my sport.”
Redlands Bicycle Classic, March 13 – 18, 2001
United Airlines Mt. Rubidoux Time Trial – (unofficial results)
1. Roland Green (Can), U.S. Postal Service, 5km in 8:53
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 8:58
3. Trent Klasna (USA), Saturn, 8:59
4. Frank McCormack (USA), Saturn, 9:01
5. Michael Rogers (Aus), Mapei, 9:02
1. Genevieve Jeanson (Can), Rona, 5km in 9:47
2. Lynn Bessette (Can), Saturn, 10:07
3. Kim Bruckner (USA), Saturn, 10:18
4. Alison Dunlap (USA), GT 10:31
5. Kim Smith (USA), AutoTrader.com, 10:41