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Chris Davidson HP Women's Challenge diary
Bontrager Racing Service mechanic Chris Davidson is looking after tech support for two teams at the HP: Boise squad Goldy's and the Richards team.
Saturn turns it up
HP Stage 4 - June 18: Stanley to Ketchum, 62.3 miles
Day four looked bad from the start. The clouds and black sky hung over the mountains that were our destination. As we packed up in the morning, the riders were all looking for their knee warmers and thermal vests. Reports coming from folks that had driven over the pass in the morning said that there was rain on the roads. It was damp and 48 degrees in Stanley, and that meant it could be full-on winter over the top.
We roll out about 400 yards then there is a right turn into the crosswind, the race starts to go immediately. Gutterball. A long thin line of riders that swells and stretches. The first girl came off the back at about the one mile point. Shortly after that, the race radio calls our number, two girls overlapped and our rider lost some spokes in the front wheel. She had to stop immediately, and the first neutral support van got to her before we had a chance to advance from our number eight spot in the caravan. Problem was that she got a slow wheel change and was out the back of the caravan. That really was disappointing, as she faced 65 miles by herself, in some less-than-perfect weather. The time cut was a concern for her as she rapidly lost ground on the field, riding without the help of the caravan to get her back on. In about 15 minutes she was out of radio range.
Back up front, Jeanson again raged up the climb, and our top two riders, Kristin Armstrong and Priska Doppman went over in the second group. The descent was long and at high speeds the two groups joined. Saturn had the advantage with four up front. Saturn played a card in Kim Bruckner and sent her off the front. She dangled for a little while and then Jeanson brought her back. We got to the 5km sign and it was together at the front with a number of short attacks at the front. At 4km, I asked our director how many Saturn had in this group. Four including Petra. The finish is slightly downhill in downtown Ketchum, with a dead straight approach from 4km out. Saturn turned it up and delivered Petra to a clear victory, our team pulled out a great result as Priska got second in the field sprint. After the race I learned that Kristin had problems on the climb with her chain, something that is going to require extra attention tonight.
The weather ended up holding off and our rider that had the wheel trouble early on made the time cut, so there was some relief at the end of the day. I am little concerned that we have gone four stages and I have not got out of the van once for any wheel changes or service. This can't last. For now, I head off to clean vehicles and pack for the transfer before tomorrow's stage. Weather looks to improve.
Thanks for reading