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Transrockies Challenge - NE
Canada, August 8-14, 2004
Stage 2 - August 9: Crowsnest Pass to Dutch Creek
Major climbs sort the field
By Paul Done
With first day nerves and adrenaline out of the way on the 95km first stage from Fernie to Blairmore, the second stage of the 2004 TransRockies which finished in the remote community of Dutch Creek would take in more climbing, more trails and more hiking than the day before.
The riders woke up to low, threatening skies and cold temperatures and with the possibility of very cold temperatures at the high point of the course that reached 2100 metres. in for the long haul, ready to plug on regardless of the course or conditions. Despite the fact that the course, at 85km, was 10km shorter than the first, the fact that it took place entirely on gravel roads and trails meant that the teams were expecting be on course for longer than Day one.
Having established a small gap during the first stage, Team Rocky Mountain riders Karl Platt and Andreas Hestler were content to move into a protective role, forcing the other contending teams: Fiat Rotwild and Team Crowsnest, into the aggressor role and with the goal of conserving energy and covering every move made.
From the gun, these three teams separated themselves from the rest, using the 11km climb straight out of Blairmore, to shell the rest of the men's teams into a race for the minor placings. After a late fade in stage one, Team Crowsnest was riding much stronger on the second day and was involved in all of the early action trading pulls and forcing the pace with Fiat Rotwild while Rocky Mountain played a waiting game.
The second major climb of the day came at kilometer 45 and would see the riders gaining over 700 metres with final pitches at over 30 percent which turned the race into a forced march. This climb saw Team Crowsnest forced to drop off the pace being set by Andreas Strobl and Silvio Weltschnig Fiat Rotwild, leaving just the top two teams fighting head-to-head once again. The last 20km of rolling gravel roads produced saw the teams riding together and they rolled into the Dutch Creek Campground together with Fiat Rotwild taking the sprint and stage but gaining only a single second on their rivals. Team Crowsnest riders Neil Grover and Troy Misseghers managed to limit their losses to less than five minutes and solidified their solid grip on a podium place.
In the Women's division, Karen Eller and Sabine Grona of Tean Scott Contessa won convincingly for the second day but this time they were followed across the line by Team Maverick/GoFast riders Christina Begy and Joan Orgeldinger. With an overall lead of over half an hour, Team Scott Contessa has put a stamp of dominance on the 2004 TransRockies.
The 95km Stage Three from Dutch Creek to Etheringon is one of the toughest stages of the race, with over 2000 metres of climbing including the fearsome Monster Hill climb along a pipeline exploration trail and contains a 2km stretch of the steepest climbs in the race and reaches the high point of the week at 2300 metres. While the first place team will likely cross the line in roughly five hours, many of the amateurs will be on course for over 8. A very hard day at the office indeed.
Images by Paul Done/www.sugoi.ca