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Wherry, Thorburn keep jerseys at International

Thursday's fourth stage of the International Tour de Toona, a circuit race in Hollidaysburg - the only city in America where the Slinky is manufactured - was held on the same course that an up-and-coming Chann McRae beat a young Lance Armstrong for the national amateur championship title back in 1992. Both men and women's fields seemed content to keep Thursday's fourth stage a status quo affair for the GC contenders and let the rest take their best shot. As a result, Webcor’s Christine Thorburn and Health Net’s Chris Wherry held on to their overall leads as Kori Seehafer

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Haedo and Seehafer earn circuit race wins

By Phil Marques, Special to VeloNews.com

Thursday’s fourth stage of the International Tour de Toona, a circuit race in Hollidaysburg – the only city in America where the Slinky is manufactured – was held on the same course that an up-and-coming Chann McRae beat a young Lance Armstrong for the national amateur championship title back in 1992.

Both men and women’s fields seemed content to keep Thursday’s fourth stage a status quo affair for the GC contenders and let the rest take their best shot. As a result, Webcor’s Christine Thorburn and Health Net’s Chris Wherry held on to their overall leads as Kori Seehafer (T-Mobile) and Juan Jose Haedo (Colavita – Sutter Home) celebrated stage wins.

Haedo easily won the uphill sprint ahead of teammate and national cyclo-cross champion Jonathan Page.

Health Net’s Greg Henderson finished third, grabbing a small four-second time bonus that moved him up into fifth on general classification.

For the women, it was T-Mobile’s loyal worker bee Kori Seehafer who shook her breakaway companions on the final QOM to take the stage win over Victory Brewing’s Amy Moore by three seconds.

The men’s 60-mile race had a breakaway that lasted nearly the entire race. In it were Ben Jacques-Maynes (Kodak-Sierra Nevada), Tim Johnson (Jittery Joe’s – Kalahari), Matthew Crane (Snow Valley), and Colavita riders Davide Frattini and Aaron Olson.

But a steady tempo set on the front by Health Net with a little help from Aerospace, TARGETTRAINING, and RMCEF brought back three of the five on the final circuit with less than three miles in the race. Only Olson and Johnson managed to stave off the field until the final KOM with less than two miles to go.

Despite having two riders in the break all day, Colavita was still able to pull out the win with their Argentinean sprinting ace. Team captain Mark McCormack provided Haedo with a lead-out, who initiated his sprint well before the railroad crossing with 500 meters to go.

“I wanted to surprise everyone a little,” noted the 24-year old Haedo. “The team’s strategy was to put a guy in the breakaway so we don’t have to chase.”

Henderson conceded he was caught a bit off guard by Haedo’s early acceleration. Turning a 53-13 gear as fast as he could, Henderson was unable to come around the Colavita duo.

“By the time I got to J.J. I was in total lactate,” said Henderson. “It’s really steep.”

Wherry remained in yellow, and was anticipating more of a rest day.

“We knew we needed to let a group go today, but it wasn’t the best having Ben Jacques-Maynes and Tim Johnson in there,” said Wherry. “I wasn’t quite panicking, but we sure welcomed the help [from the other teams].”

When asked to comment on some of the lesser-known riders closest to him on GC, Wherry noted, “They’re not totally unknown. Andy Bajadali is a great rider.

Anthony Colby is a Durango guy, so I know him too. They’re all good climbers.”

Wherry made it clear his objective was to stay in yellow, despite cutting down his training volume after winning the USPRO championships back in June.

“I shut it down for a while,” said Wherry. “But now it’s time to keep on focusing and representing the jersey. The team’s got some goals late in the year, and this being one of them. So we’re just going to keep it going.”

The only change of jersey was Glen Mitchell (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) taking over the KOM from Aerospace’s Hugh Moran. Mitchell took the first KOM, which served as the catalyst for the breakaway.

The women’s race mimicked the men’s as a group of nine riders got away. But unlike the men, the women were able to hold their gap until the finish.

The two biggest beneficiaries of the break’s success were Seehafer and Chrissy Ruiter (Ford – Basis). Seehafer moved up in the overall from 12th to seventh, and Ruiter moved up a spot to 8th. With over $57,000 on the line in the women’s race alone, riders outside the top ten in GC will still be fighting to move up even if it’s just one or two spots, hoping to take home some nice coin.

The nine riders shared the work equally and built up a lead that was almost three minutes at one point. But on the final QOM, Seehafer gave a maximum effort and surfed solo down the twisty 50 mph descent, riding by herself the rest of the way to the finish.

“It was very aggressive from the gun,” said Seehafer afterwards. “After about mile eight, I attacked after a bunch of attacks, and a group of eight came with me. Everyone was working well together until about two miles to the finish – maybe Quark [Helen Kelly] and Webcor [Felicia Greer] took turns sitting on because they were unsure if the break was working for them – and then people want to race to win and stop working together. Chrissy Ruiter started the move on the climb [final QOM], and then I answered over the climb.”

The main field finished over two minutes later, with Tina Pic (Quark) taking the field sprint. Thorburn (Webcor) kept her yellow jersey safe for Friday’s 80 mile stage that traverses through the Mennonite dairy farms of Martinsburg. Lyne Bessette (Bianchi) retained the polka-dot QOM jersey, and Ina Teutenberg (T-Mobile) is still leading the sprint competition.