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Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale - 2.9.1

France, August 4-18, 2002

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Stage 2 - August 5: Bruxelles - Valenciennes, 159.5km

Belgian pavé takes toll on Tour Féminine

By Chris Henry, Cyclingnews correspondent

Judith Arndt put Team Saturn back in control of the Grande Boucle Féminine today, placing the other race favourites in difficulty on the wet and treacherous sections of Belgian cobblestones. Not content to wait for the mountains to start opening up the time gaps, Saturn sent German national champion Arndt and compatriot Petra Rossner away on the third of four pavé sections, leaving a shattered field to contemplate a new challenge at the top of the general classification.

"There were a lot of cobblestones," Arndt noted at the finish, "and I like cobblestones... So I attacked. I wanted to make some time, because in the mountains I am not the best."

The day's racing began at a modest pace, covering 34.2 km in the first hour. Under the impetus of the Saturn team and Maillot d'Or Leontien Van Moorsel's Farm-Frites squad, the peloton pushed the pace, averaging 38 km/h in the second hour of racing. As many race favourites struggled to maintain pace or stay upright on the wet and muddy pavé, Saturn's Ina Teutenberg set a strong tempo up front and sent Arndt on the attack on the third stretch of cobbles.

With 30km to ride to the finish Arndt launched the race winning move, which began as an escape of four, including Teutenberg, Debby Mansveld (Vlaanderen-T Interim), and Valentina Polkhanova (Itera Team), but was quickly reduced to two. In the end only Polkhanova could stay on Arndt's wheel, though the Saturn rider was clearly the stronger of the two, on the pavé and off.

Behind the escape, big names were suffering, including defending champion Joane Somarriba (Deia-Pragma-Colnago), who crashed on the pavé along with former world time trial champion Mari Holden (USA National-T Mobile). The peloton was split in several groups, with the first group of chasers reduced to around 30 riders. This group was largely under the control of Farm-Frites, who worked hard, but ultimately in vain, to erase the time deficits to race leader Van Moorsel.

Under the 1km to go banner, Arndt was looking to Polkhanova to pull through, but the Russian was clearly in survival mode, thinking more of gains in the general classification than a realistic chance for the stage victory. Slipping briefly behind Polkhanova in the closing meters, Arndt began her sprint, easily moving several lengths ahead to claim not only the stage win, but also the race leader's jersey. The leading duo covered the 144km stage in 3 hours, 45 minutes, while Arndt's Saturn teammate Petra Rossner won the field sprint for third place, 1'42" back.

The new Maillot d'Or summed up the day's tactic at the end of the day. "The strategy was to attack on the third pavé section, with 30km to go. My teammate Ina Teutenberg rode a lot, permitting me to attack. To attack the cobblestones you have to be in front."


Images by AFP


1 Judith Arndt (Ger) Saturn Cycling                         3.45.22 (38.417 km/h)
2 Valentina Polkhanova (Rus) Itera Team                        0.02
3 Petra Rossner (Ger) Saturn Cycling                           1.42
4 Regina Schleicher (Ger) Michela Fanini
5 Debby Mansveld (Ned) Vlaanderen-T Interim
6 Leontien Van Moorsel (Ned) Team Farm Frites-Hartol
7 Sara Felloni (Ita) Edilsavino
8 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) Acca Due O
9 Karine Dalmais (Fra) French National Team
10 Alessandra Cappellotto (Ita) Mixte Power Plate
11 Simona Parente (Ita) Edilsavino
12 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) USC Chirio
13 Youlia Martissova (Rus) Itera Team
14 Elisabeth Chevanne Brunel (Fra) C.A Mantes la ville 78
15 Miho Oki (Jpn) C.A Mantes la ville 78
16 Sandrine Marcuz (Fra) French National Team
17 Zinaida Stahurskaia (Blr) USC Chirio
18 Heidi Van De Vijver (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
19 Kimberly Bruckner (USA) Saturn Cycling
20 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Team Farm Frites-Hartol

General classification after stage 2

1 Judith Arndt (Ger) Saturn Cycling                         6.18.57
2 Valentina Polkhanova (Rus) Itera Team                        0.23
3 Leontien Van Moorsel (Ned) Team Farm Frites-Hartol           1.15
4 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Team Farm Frites-Hartol                1.30
5 Arenda Grimberg (Ned) Team Farm Frites-Hartol
6 Kimberly Bruckner (USA) Saturn Cycling                       1.42
7 Youlia Martissova (Rus) Itera Team                           1.59
8 Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spa) Deia Pragma Colnago             2.19
9 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) Acca Due O                       2.26
10 Rasa Polikeviciute (Ltu) Acca Due O                         2.26
11 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) USC Chirio
12 Simona Parente (Ita) Edilsavino                             2.27
13 Zinaida Stahurskaia (Blr) USC Chirio                        2.28
14 Anna Millward (Aus) Saturn Cycling                          2.31
15 Debby Mansveld (Ned) Vlaanderen-T Interim                   2.32
16 Alessandra Cappellotto (Ita) Mixte Power Plate              2.37
17 Liane Bahler (Ger) Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung
18 Amber Neben (USA) USA National-T Mobile                     2.42
19 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) Figurella Dream Team                2.44
20 Heidi Van De Vijver (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim              2.49
22 Petra Rossner (Ger) Saturn Cycling                          3.07
32 Olga Slioussareva (Rus) Itera Team                          4.00
35 Nicole Brandli (Swi) Acca Due O                             4.41
50 Catherine Marsal (Fra) Saturn Cycling                       6.16
57 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Acca Due O                              6.45
63 Lada Kozlikova (Cze) Itera Team                             7.05