Today we raced 120km around a tough, hilly circuit. We didn't feel that we had much chance of breaking Genevieve Jeanson's strangehold on the tour but we thought that we had to try. So I attacked straight off the start line, hoping to put the pressure on Genevieve from the very start of the race.
She chased me down pretty quickly and then it was only a few kms until the first sprint of the day, worth 15 seconds to the winner. Ina Teutenberg and I helped Lyne Bessette take this sprint and with the high tempo and the cross winds, we created splits in the field. Genevieve had to close the gap to Lyne out in front and as soon as she did that, Kim Bruckner attacked her with Katrina Berger (800.com).
We turned right onto the first climb of the day, and that spelled disaster for us! Genevieve put the pressure on and very quickly caught Kim Bruckner and Katrina Berger. She wasn't content with that but continued to force the pace up the climb and soon she was left with only Lyne Bessette on her wheel.
Kim Bruckner and Katrina Berger were struggling to catch Genevieve and Lyne and I was in a group of around 12 riders, trying to catch Kim and Katrina! Ina was with me for a while and she worked as hard as she could to help me close the gap but the two of us just couldn't work hard enough to catch the riders in front. By the time we reached the top of the climb, Genevieve was on her own, Lyne was around 20 seconds behind her, Kim and Katrina were another 20 or 30 seconds back and my group had dwindled to 10 and was another 30 or so seconds behind.
Genevieve rode the remainder of the distance alone, an amazing performance that has certainly put an end to our hopes of winning the tour!! Kim and Katrina joined Lyne for some of the race and they worked together for a while before Lyne continued on alone, finishing around 3 minutes behind Genevieve. Kim and Katrina finished together, another couple of minutes behind Lyne and my group finished even further behind - I'm not sure exactly how many minutes.
The rest of the field gradually got back together after the first couple of climbs and ended up finishing the stage together. After that experience we are all looking forward to the criterium tomorrow!