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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.
Here comes the Saturn train
HP Stage 6 - June 20: Burley to Magic Mountain, 60.7 miles
Today really started last night, with the replacement of two STI levers, cutting out the spokes in three wheels, and retaping bars. Luckily our riders came through the stage yesterday with some bodily damage, but all made the time cut. Some people asked me if I liked all the action yesterday, my reply is always the same, it stinks when riders go down, get hurt, and bikes get damaged. It is not good for the race, for the riders or for me. Mechanics would like nothing better than to catch up on some sleep in the caravan, rather than constantly jumping out of the car and fixing damage.
Well after today the GC was dramatically different and Jeanson had some work to do. The stage today went west with a tailwind for thirty miles, then went south for 30 miles, the last six uphill. In the parking lot last night, the buzz was how Saturn was going to throw everything at Rona that they could and see what happens. Lots of teams were worried. I talked to my friend, Valeri, the team director for Lithuania, and he just indicated with his hands that he hoped that his riders could cover all that Saturn could dish out.
For us, the problems started just after we left the hotel parking lot. About two miles into the race our leading rider flatted. No worries, except that the pack was going about 35mph at the time. We sent two riders back to help, but it took a while for our leader, Kristin Armstrong, to get back on. The other two did not make it. Quickly there was a break up the road and groups everywhere. From the radio we learned that the break had five Saturn riders, plus Jeanson and Bessette. Impossible to believe, but the whole race was up the road and going away fast. Saturn laid on the power and dropped Jeanson and Bessette, and had the whole race in hand.
In a chasing group, Kristin had three spokes taken out of her front wheel and crashed. She got up as I got to the bike and was back on chasing, but it took her the next ten miles to get into a large group. Meanwhile up the road, Saturn was motoring. By the time that we hit the base of the climb, the lead group had dropped Millward, Teutenberg and Marsal, but the Saturn duo of Bruckner and Ardnt were still moving well. Jeanson lost the leaders jersey and our Kristin dropped from 8th to 16th on GC. Big nod to Saturn for today. Despite the fact that everyone knew what they were going to do, they did it with great resolve and determination. Team Saturn roared today and justified their UCI number one ranking. It was impressive.
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