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Transrockies Challenge - NE

Canada, August 8-14, 2004

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Stage 5 - August 12: Sandy McNabb to Bragg Creek

Rocky Mountain turns up the heat

By Paul Done

Almost there!
Photo ©: Paul Done
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The climbing was worth it
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Rocky Mountain's Hestler and Platt (centre)
Photo ©: Paul Done
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The podium after stage 5
Photo ©: Paul Done
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Billed as the Queen Stage of the TransRockies, Stage 5 covered over 105 km with 2500m of climbing and by far the most technical and demanding parcours of the race. Added to the difficulty of the stage were temperatures that soared to over 30 degrees Celsius. For most teams, finishing the stage would take seven hours or more.

Having managed to take only a minute off the massive 39 minute lead that Team Crowsnest had accumulated during the epic and mechanical-plagued Stage 3 on Tuesday, Team Rocky Mountain's Andreas Hestler declared that this was the day to "open a can of whoop ass" or be resigned to second place. Open a can, they did.

The grueling conditions and course set the stage for another major shake-up of the standings as Team Rocky Mountain attacked from the sound of the gun at 8am. They made the full commitment to victory going full redline on the first of six major climbs to be tackled during the day, they immediately put Team Crowsnest's Troy Misseghers and Neil Grover into difficulty. They succeeded in opening up a gap that they increased across the long transfer to the hulking Powderface Trail, a 15km mostly singletrack pass which topped out at 2100 metres.

Platt and Hestler slowly grew their lead as the stage went along, and with course knowledge in their favour, they avoided navigational errors that cost the other teams valuable time. When they crossed the line in a stunning 4:35:08, the clock began ticking to see whether or not Team Crowsnest would hold onto their lead that was nearly 38 minutes at stage start. Team Fiat Rotwild came though second in 5:06.38, already over half an hour behind, and when Grover and Misseghers followed four minutes later, they retained the leaders' jerseys with a slim 2:27 margin. They have to protect the lead over two days and 130km of racing with a revived Platt and Hestler on maximum attack.

The other big change of the day came in the mixed category that has so far been dominated by Marg Fedyna and Nick Christofferson of Team Lifesport. They ran the table, sweeping the first four stages to build an overall lead of 45 minutes over Louise Kobin and Eric Warkentin of Team Cateye Enduro. Today Fedyna crashed on a super-fast road section landing hard on her head. Despite an on-the-spot concussion diagnosis, she continued on to the finish losing over 20 minutes in the process. The injuries sustained in the crash include a fractured eye socket and upper jaw. Though they retain the overall lead and at times of writing she was planning to start on Friday, there is some doubt as to whether Fedyna will be able to finish the 85km Stage 6 from Bragg Creek to Rafter Six Resort that includes over 2000 metres of climbing and nearly 50km of technical singletrack.


Images by Paul Done/www.sugoi.ca