|Tech Features Road MTB Cyclocross Track News Images Feedback|
Billy Cornelius HP Women's Challenge diary
Billy Cornelius is an employee of HP, working at the company's Boise, Idaho printer plant. At the 2002 HP Women's Challenge he has volunteered for the job of working as a gopher for the Italian-based Itera team.
Index to all Billy Cornelius diary entries
A Saturn team time trial
Stage 6 - June 20: Burley to Magic Mountain, 60.7 miles, 3000 feet of climbing
It's cool this morning in Twin falls and there is no room on the busy highway next to the hotel, so most of the cyclists are warming up by making loops around the parking lot or on trainers. I meet up with Chris Davidson again and we talk about how our day went yesterday and whether we were able to send HPWC updates the previous night.
Chris is busy setting up about a dozen trainers for the teams he supports - Goldy's and Richards, both Boise-based teams. He says the trainers are important to the cyclists but a nightmare logistically to store and transport through a multistage event.
Insert photos: Chris Davidson setting up a sea of trainers; Amber Neben and Dotsie Cowden warm up on trainers; Itera team talks strategy.
Today I am again sitting in the Itera team car, #2 in the caravan. We have another hard day ahead, with a 60.7 mile climb to Magic Mountain ski resort. It is a rather cool day today, in the 60s, with the wind at the cyclists' backs right now as we head west. The mountains ahead look gloomy, but I have no report on what the weather is like on top. Looks like rain.
At about one third the way through the route takes a corner putting the riders into a strong crosswind. The peloton quickly breaks up into many different groups. These groups spread out across the road at an angle to maximize the drafting efficiency in a cross wind. We hear on the official radio that nearly the entire Saturn team is attacking and only Genevieve Jeanson and Lyne Bessette have gone with them. This group gains maybe a minute on the peloton.
Another turn takes us south towards our destination, the Magic Mountain ski resort at about 7000 feet, 3000 feet above us. The wind is still sort of a cross wind and all the small groups continue to struggle. Our team car has to pass several of them so that we can be close to our leading GC rider, Valentina Polkhanova. She is not with the lead group, but is in a group of 15 about a minute behind. We pull even with her and ask is she needs fluids or gel - she says nyet!
As the road begins to climb up the canyon both Lyne and Genevieve break off from the lead group. Are they tired? You would think that Genevieve must stay with this group in order to keep her lead in the GC. Or maybe Rona is betting that Saturn's break won't stay away. But that would not be a smart bet.
The five Saturn riders work very hard, and one by one, they drop off leaving only Judith Arndt and Kimberly Bruckner. Their lead has grown to nearly two minutes! Outside it has warmed up nicely, becoming partly cloudy. The steepness of the ascent has broken the small groups into mostly a line of cyclists stretching most of the way up the mountain. Each rider tries to straighten the curves by weaving from one side of the road to the other.
We pass some riders on the right, others on the left. They hug tightly behind us to take advantage of any draft available. It isn't much at these speeds - 10-15mph. There is good news for the Itera team - Genevieve has attacked the small group chasing the last two Saturn riders and Valentina goes with her. In the end, Judith Arndt takes the stage and our Itera rider holds onto Genevieve's wheel to finish fourth. 'Bravo!' Itera manager Walter Zini says over the radio!
Back at the hotel Walter shows me Vera Carrara's cracked helmet and tacoed rear wheel from the crash on stage four. He is about to throw them out - I rescue them and have Vera sign the helmet!