17th Hewlett Packard LaserJet International Women's Challenge - 2.9.1

USA, June 8- 18, 2000

Main Page    Results    Anna Wilson    Marion Clignet    Tracey Gaudry    Karen Kurreck    Kevin Grove

Stage 3 - June 10: Elkhorn Circuit Race, 29.6 mi/46 km

Anna Wilson's report

Stage 3 was short and sweet. Well actually, short and incredibly hard. We raced 18 laps of a circuit that contained a 500 metre climb each lap. We were keen to have the easiest possible day since tomorrow is a big hilltop finish and we wanted to be prepared for that. But things didn't quite work out that way.

The pace was high from the start and when the first mountain sprint arrived on the third lap, Jeannie Longo put the hammer down. Diana Ziliute (Lithuania), Mari Holden (Timex), Lyne Bessette (Saturn) and myself were able to go with her and that established a bit of a pattern. Every third lap there was a mountain sprint, and Jeannie Longo would always go for it and the 4 of us would follow her. We would stay away for about a lap before being chased down from behind. Finally, with 2 laps to go, Diana Ziliute attacked on the climb and this time it was Jeannie Longo, Diana, Jolanta Polikevicuite (Lithuania) Mari and myself that went with her.

Jolanta drove it down the descent, working for Diana and I knew I was in deep trouble from the effort of covering the attack. When Longo attacked the climb the very next lap, my legs blew apart and I went rapidly backwards. Mari exploded a few hundred metres later and we were both picked up by the bunch. That left only Diana and Longo out in front alone. The British team chased hard to the line and we finished probably only 10 seconds behind in the end but it was another 10 seconds we didn't need to lose to those two riders. I ended up 6th. So I maintained my second place overall but Longo is gradually eating away at the deficit.

Tomorrow is 90kms finishing with a 20 km climb so I expect to lose more time to Longo and Ziliute. But you never know in bike racing!!

Marion Clignet's report

I'll keep this fairly short, as the race was only 48 km - a 1.5km circuit to be covered 18 times with over 3000ft of climbing and at 2500m to boot. First 3 laps were fine and then on the fourth my legs, heart, and lungs were at war with one another. I pedaled, gasped, pedaled again, heaved and weaved up the road in any way possible. Made contact on the descent with a small group and we picked up others as we went. On the last lap Diana Ziliute flew by us to win the sprint over Longo. Apparently they had taken off with about 5 laps to go with 4 other riders who were eventually recaptured and then took off again with 3 to go...

Karen Kurreck's report

It is late so this will be brief. We had to wait around all afternoon to race at 6:30pm and then have a very short evening left for dinner and massages. The Elkhorn circuit race is actually one of the hardest stages here. We do a 1.6 mile circuit that is up one side, down the other and back up again. No time for recovery and we do 18 laps for a total of 28 miles and 3000ft of climbing. Throw in the altitude and a world class field and you have a very hard race. The finish was at the top of the climb.

Longo is really trying to make up the 3 min. she lost the first day and we all suffer for it. There were 4 QOM laps plus some primes. The whole race was hard, especially the sprint laps. Longo, Ziliute, Anna Wilson and Mari Holden were stuck together like glue and several times they opened a gap over the climb with various others. They never got too far away though and were brought back each time. I suffered the whole race - I could climb OK and my legs were fine, I just couldn't breathe enough to sustain any kind of power - I was totally blown over the top every lap.

With 2 laps to go, Ziliute attacked hard on the climb bringing Ziliute, Mari, Anna, Jolanta Polikevichuite, a German Jane's Cosmetics rider and Lyne Bessette along. Anna came off with 1 lap to go and on the final climb, Longo and Ziliute rode away from the rest whom we caught halfway up the climb. I managed to pass Jolanta right before the line to take the sprint for 3rd a few seconds behind the front 2. Ziliute won the stage.

Tracey Gaudry's report

Aside from the fact that tonite's race was excrutiatingly painful, there are some pleasures about tour racing. We were staying at the picturesque natural wonderland of Stanley, alongside the rapids of the fastflowing, icy river streaming down from the snowcapped peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains. Thankfully this year we were not racing over Galena Pass - snow was still falling atop the mountain range as the 'hangers' were to discover when they bravely tackled the stage we rode last year. Instead we drove to Ketchum for the circuit race.

Eighteen laps of this circuit was excrutiating. Normally I hurt but manage to ride in the front group. This year, I blew up completely after five strong laps, nearly stopping dead at the bottom of the steep 400m climb on the sixth laps. I had absolutely nothing in my legs, it felt like someone had pulled the plug on me, and every ounce of energy had drained away. That's the way it goes I guess. I rode tempo, gradually catching clumps of riders, who sat on for most part, cursing me as I steadily got into a faster rhythm. Do I try to minimise the time gap, so that GC isn't totally lost? Kim and Mari were still doing exceedingly well, and so I figured my energy best be saved to help them out in later stages.

In the main field the rest of our team were working well. Only towards the end did Odessa and Erin drop back to help me after their work was done in the main field. Mari was going like a steam train, sprinting for the QOM and time bonus points, and Kim was riding strongly in the pack. With a couple of laps to go, Longo put on the pace and she was away with Diana and Mari. Mari just dropped off at the bottom of the last lap and the whole field virtually amalgamated again, with Longo and Ziliute only gaining five seconds in a furious two-up sprint up the climb to the finish. I had prime viewing position - they were just lapping me as they sprinted past! I was given 'lap' time, which was calculated at more than a minute slower than the time I was actually taken around the circuit. It would have been better for me to have ridden the last lap, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. I have more worthwhile things to think about for the rest of the tour, with both Kim and Mari right up there in the overall standings.

Kevin Grove's report

AutoTrader.com Team Wrench

Although the Mike Neel river crossing re-enactment of 1999 never materialized, Stanley, Idaho provided the staff members of the various teams some entertainment for the two days we stayed there. After two days of pain, the AutoTrader.com ladies were able to sleep in a little before making the transfer to Sun Valley. Since the race didn't start until 6:30 PM, the ladies were in need of a nice leisurely ride to stretch the muscles and work out the kinks from yesterday's hellacious race. Looking forward to my ride with the team into Sun Valley, I quickly unloaded the team bikes from the Volvo and Ford van and prepared to depart with the team. Much to my chagrin they left without me, leaving me stranded on the side of the road contemplating how I would repay them for this. Motorpacing behind the Volvo at 40 mph I finally caught up to them and fate a few harsh words joined them on a nice leisurely ride. Showing them who was boss, I took both the Ketchum City sprint and the Sun Valley Mountain sprint. Never mess with an angry mechanic!! But enough about my gloating.

The 18 lap, 1.6 mile race proved to be the hardest race of this HP Challenge. The up and down terrain proved to be hard on the legs and even harder on the mental makeup of the riders. Many riders told me that this was the hardest race they've ridden all year. The speed was high from the gun and numerous riders were dropped on the climb each lap. The main aggressor on the hill was usually Jeanie Longo, who would attack hard at the base of the climb and maintain a good speed all the way up to the start finish line. Trying to protect Pam Schuster, and her 4th place, it was the goal of the AutoTrader.com team to ensure that she stayed in contact with the main peleton as it dwindled in numbers as the lap cards turned.

At one point in the middle of the race, Pam was gapped off of the back and with an outstanding effort of Laura Shuford, was able to rejoin the pack. Much to the dismay of Director Neel, seeing his fourth spot in the caravan disappear, Pam lost contact on the hill a lap later. Once again it was Laura to the rescue, and with another Herculean effort got Pam back in the main bunch. And luckily for us, she was able to stay there for the rest of the race. With two laps to go in the race Jeanie Longo made a ferocious attack on the hill bringing with her Diana Ziliute, Anna Wilson, Lyne Besette and Mari Holden.

Thinking this was the break, our Julie Young tried to bridge but just didn't have the legs to make contact. The breakaway group was reeled in by the British team and the race was on going into the last climb up the hill. This time it was Longo and Zilute alone at the summit, with the main field some 25 seconds behind. The finish would prove to be a battle between Zilute and Longo with Zilute winning this round. The main field, containing 5 of the 6 AutoTrader.com riders finished around 30 seconds behind. Karen Kurreck took the field sprint for third place. But a very gracious pat on the back goes to Laura Shuford for ensuring Mike's spot in the caravan tomorrow.

Karen's and Kevin's reports courtesy of racereport@vcnet.com