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By Bryan Jew, VeloNews Senior Writer
For Saturn’s Eric Wohlberg and the rest of the men’s field chasing Scott Moninger at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, any hopes of overtaking Mercury’s race leader will most likely have to wait until Sunday’s finale. For the women, any slim hopes of catching race leader Genevieve Jeanson pretty much vanished after another solo victory by the Canadian teenager.
Friday’s men’s race saw a south-of-the-border sweep, as a trio of Mexicans went 1-2-3 on the day. Jesus Zarate of the Tecos team took the win, outsprinting his breakaway partner Siddharta Camil of Corona. Mostly, though, it was a day in which the field was content to roll on a roller-coaster ride through the Gila National Forest and the surrounding high desert roads.
On the day’s first climb, to the little ghost town of Pino Altos, north of Silver City, 7UP’s John Lieswyn and Mercury’s Phil Zajicek bridged up to early breakaways Arquimides Lam (Tecos) and Patrick Heaney (Lombardi Sports), forming a four-man group that would set the tone for much of the day. With both 7UP and Mercury represented up front, neither of those two biggest teams were going to chase, content to sit at the front and control the race. But the presence of Zajicek in the break also limited its chance of success.
“It was a poor situation,” said Lieswyn, “because Zajicek wasn’t gonna take a pull all day.”
Nevertheless, the breakaway stayed away through the beautiful, twisty descent through the forest, and for much of the open valley roads that followed. In all, they stayed off for 35 miles until the group began to break up, leaving only Lam up front by himself for a little while longer.
By the time beginning of the long final climb on Hwy 152, the group was back together. After the feed zone, however, Zarate and Camil made their move. The two Mexicans began to slowly open a gap, while behind, several riders tried, and failed to bridge up to the winning move.
Zarate and Camil crested the hill and began the long descent back to Fort Bayard with no more than a 30-second lead, but the pair held on, with Zarate taking the win. Behind, Zarate’s teammate Juan Magellanes and Colorado rider Alex Candelario (THF Racing) slipped the rest of the field, with Magellanes taking third and Candelario fourth, five seconds behind the winner, and four seconds ahead of the big main field, led in by 7UP-Colorado Cyclist’s Doug Ziewacz and race leader Moninger.
For Moninger, it had been a pretty standard day, from which he emerged with his 1:51 lead over Wohlberg intact. It’s a lead that should hold through Saturday’s criterium, but anything could happen on Sunday’s Gila Monster road race. However, Moninger looks to be tough to beat.
“We’re leading, so we didn’t attack today,” said Mercury team director Eddy Borysewicz. “Our guys are riding quite well. The team is great, team has good morale, and Scott is absolutely dominating, so that’s nice, because we lose a couple of races to Saturn [earlier this year]. The race is not over, of course ….”
The same can’t be said for the women’s race. After her third straight stage victory, Jeanson now holds a seven-minute lead over Saturn’s Lyne Bessette.
The race began with Saturn keeping close tabs on Jeanson, with Bessette, Anna Millward and Ina Teutenberg all trying to shadow the Rona rider. But on the day’s first major climb, a three-and-a-half mile grind to Pino Altos, Jeanson again rode away from everybody else.
On the windy day, the Canadian decided to go it alone, even with 60 miles of racing to go. In the end she would pocket a three-minute victory over Bessette, but that’s not to say she didn’t have a few problems along the way. On the descent through the Gila National Forest, Jeanson nearly lost it on one of the tricky bends, going off into the shoulder and sliding out, barely managing to stay upright.
That mishap slowed her down a little, as did some fatigue toward the end of the stage.
“At the beginning, I was feeling good, but I think I didn’t eat enough during the race,” said Jeanson. “For the last part, I was dying. The turn on [Hwy] 152, oh my god, this part, I was dying. I was counting the miles.”
Behind, Bessette could only try to hold Jeanson close. She was joined for a while by 800.com’s Katrina Berger and Saturn’s Kimberly Bruckner, but eventually Bessette, too, would go it alone.
“We gained a little bit, but then we started losing time, so I just went by myself,” said Bessette. As the race went on, though, Bessette couldn’t cut much into Jeanson’s lead. She finished 3:05 behind and now trails in the overall by 7:04.
“She was really strong, she’s in really good form,” said Bessette, who is in her first truly competitive race situation since she broke her collarbone in a finish-line crash at Redlands.
Berger and Bruckner were close behind Bessette, 3:20 behind Jeanson, with Berger taking third and Bruckner fourth. After that, the time gaps got big: 9:55 to Elizabeth Emery (Intersports) and Joanne Kiesanowski (Procter & Gamble) in fifth and sixth places; then 10:05 to a group of eight led in by Andrea Ratkovic (800.com), with the main field coming in more than 24 minutes behind Jeanson. In the overall, Bruckner sits third, 7:43 behind Jeanson, with no one else within 14 minutes of the lead.
Men, stage 3
1. Jesus Zarate, Tecos, 73mi in 3:13:13; 2. Siddharta Camil, Corona-Citibank, s.t.; 3. Juan Magellanes, Tecos, at 0:05; 4. Alex Candelario, THF Racing, s.t.; 5. Doug Ziewacz, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist, at 0:09; 6. Scott Moninger, Mercury-Viatel; 7. Kirk Albers, Jelly Belly; 8. Steve Cate, Mercy Fitness; 9. Damon Kluck, Jelly Belly; 10. Bart Bowen, Hanseatic-Oschner; 11. Ryan Guay, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist; 12. Scott Konicki, Mercy Fitness; 13. Russell Stevenson, Broadmark Capital; 14. Eric Wohlberg, Saturn; 15. Clark Sheehan, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist; 16. Tim Brown, Nutra Fig; 17. Brian Forbes, Jelly Belly; 18. Michael Creed, Prime Alliance; 19. Chuck Coyle, THF Racing; 20. Jacob Rosenbager, Rio Grande, all s.t.
1. Scott Moninger, 7:38:27; 2. Eric Wohlberg, at 1:51; 3. Scott Price, at 2:22; 4. Matt DeCanio, at 2:28; 5. Doug Ziewacz, at 2:32; 6. Michael Creed, at 3:06; 7. John Lieswyn, at 3:49; 8. Phil Zajicek, at 4:22; 9. Clark Sheehan, at 4:23; 10. Jesus Zarate, at 4:49; 11. Drew Miller, at 5:01; 12. Svein Tuft, at 5:15; 13. Florencio Ramos, at 5:19; 14. Jason McCartney, at 5:56; 15. Andrew Bajadali, at 6:00; 16. Rusty Beall, at 6:06; 17. Jimi Killen, at 6:15; 18. Jose Robles, at 6:27; 19. Arquimides Lam, at 6:28; 20. John Hunt, at 6:45.
Women, stage 3
1. Genevieve Jeanson, Rona, 3:26:58; 2. Lyne Bessette, Saturn, at 3:05; 3. Katrina Berger, 800.com, at 3:20; 4. Kimberly Bruckner, Saturn, s.t.; 5. Elizabeth Emery, Intersports, at 9:55; 6. Joanne Kiesanowski, Procter & Gamble, s.t.; 7. Andrea Ratkovic, 800.com, at 10:05; 8. Jessica Phillips, Intersports; 9. Anna Millward, Saturn; 10. Lysle Wilhelmi, 800.com; 11. Sarah Ulmer, AutoTrader.com; 12. Susy Pryde, AutoTrader.com; 13. Sarah Konrad, Boise Cascade; 14. Ruthie Matthes, Intersports, all s.t.; 15. Rhonda Quick, Jane Cosmetics, at 14:09; 16. Lauren Smith, Jane Cosmetics; 17. Kelli Emmett; 18. Joan Wilson, Jane Cosmetics, all s.t.; 19. Cheryl Binney, Procter & Gamble, at 24:35; 20. Jenny Eyerman, Jane Cosmetics, s.t.
1. Jeanson, 7:10:58; 2. Besstte, at 7:04; 3. Bruckner, at 7:43; 4. Berger, at 14:28; 5. Anna Millward, at 19:21; 6. Elizabeth Emery, at 19:46; 7. Jessica Phillips, at 20:36; 8. Andrea Ratkovic, at 21:12; 9. Sarah Ulmer, at 21:51; 10. Sarah Konrad, at 23:28; 11. Lysle Wilhelmi, at 23:45; 12. Susy Pryde, at 25:23; 13. Ruthie Mathes, at 27:01; 14. Joanne Kiesanowski, at 27:12; 15. Rhonda Quick, at 27:16; 16. Kelli Emmett, at 29:09; 17. Lauren Smith, at 31:34; 18. Julie Young, at 36:16; 19. Pam Schuster, at 36:21; 20. Gabriella Gonzales de Ferrat, at 39:05.