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Transrockies Challenge - NE

Canada, August 8-14, 2004

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Stage 4 - August 11: Etherington to Sandy McNabb

Rocky Mtn vs Crowsnest battle royale

By Paul Done

After the truly epic Stage Three, the fourth stage looked as though it would be a return to more normal race conditions. The sun, which came out during the afternoon of Stage Three looked like it was settling in for a stay, while the very technical 65 km parcours contained only one major climb, though it was a pass with three summits before the long descent off the ridge.

Team Rocky Mountain (Andreas Hestler/Karl Platt) went on the attack from the gun, and Team Crowsnest (Neil Grover/Troy Misseghers) were forced to defend for the length of the stage. Team Fiat Rotwild suffered on the technical parts of the course and were perhaps paying for all the efforts that they made the previous day in overcoming major mechanicals.

Team Rocky Mountain opened up a gap, though Crowsnest limited their losses over the four-hour stage to just over a minute as Team Rocky Mountain collected their second stage win. Fiat Rotwild lost another big chunk of time and now find themselves in third place overall, 45 minutes adrift, having lost second to the charging duo of Hestler and Platt.

The women's race saw a change of form as Team Maverick GoFast (Christina Begy/Joan Orgeldinger) found the more technical course and 30km of singletrack to their liking and blazed to their first stage with with an eight-minute margin. Team VC International nearly had their perfect streak in the Masters category ended as they missed a turn in the first singletrack section and lost over 20 minutes. They put in an epic chase to overhaul second-paced Team Pedal/Kona (Paul Newitt/Nels Gukoien) who managed to hold the lead until the 40km mark and rolled in eight minutes down on team of Karl Arnold and Stefan Ruttiman.

Tomorrow's 105 km stage from Sandy McNabb to Bragg Creek is considered to be the Queen Stage of the TransRockies Challenge with a profile which looks like a set of broken teeth and 2500 metres of elevation gain in at least six major climbs. This is the day that has been the make or break day the last two years and it's the best chance for any contending teams to make up ground on their competitors.