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Nature Valley GP — Stage 2 — Men’s and Women’s Report

June 9, 2005 (Mankato, Minn.) – Health Net/Maxxis is riding a big wave of momentum, and John Lieswyn shot the curl today. The veteran rider and former champion of the Nature Valley Grand Prix overcame a more than 2-minute deficit to catch a break of 16 and then kept motoring to win the second stage of the grand prix, the inaugural 92-mile Mankato Road Race. It marked the fourth road race win in a row for Health Net/Maxxis, and by four different riders.

“It was a team victory of the greatest magnitude,” Lieswyn said. “Right now, it feels like we have a V-8 under the hood.”

Lieswyn was able to share the spotlight with his teammate, Tyler Farrar, who not only took fourth place in the stage, but grabbed the sprint leader’s jersey, as well. “Once you get the momentum going, it’s like it doesn’t stop,” Farrar said of the team’s performance.

And it was impressive, as the Health Net squad of only four riders animated or controlled much of the race from the start and then found two riders in the final selection of 24 who powered to the finishing circuit.

It was an outcome that left larger teams like Jelly Belly-Pool Gel and Advantage Benefits/Endeavor Cycling Team wondering how this missed the chance to disrupt the Health Net flow.

“We messed up,” said a visibly disturbed Danny Van Haute, Jelly Belly-Pool Gel director. “We’re just going to go back and reorganized.”
Despite the attitude, Jelly Belly put one rider on the podium, Caleb Manion. He was followed by Navigator Insurance’s Shawn Milne.But it was the fact that Jelly Belly, with two riders in a break of 17, was unable to control the race and also missed a chance to join a chase of nine riders that seemed to upset Van Haute.

It was a feeling shared by Advantage Benefits’ Brent Bookwalter, who made the initial break with his teammate, Jake Rytlewski, but failed to come up with a strategy to prevent another Health Net win.

“No one expected this to be as selective as it was,” Bookwalter said. “I think everyone expected it to be Saturday or Sunday.”

In fact, if Health Net’s result with a small team wasn’t a surprise, the course was. On paper, the profile was a bit flat, with rolling hills through the countryside of south-central Minnesota and only one climb of significance. But high crosswinds in the country, and that one climb — a three-quarter mile climb pitching at 13 percent in some spots — proved more than a challenge for many of the riders.

With attacks coming early and often from Fiordifrutta’s Jon Hamblen and his teammates, Advantage Benefits, Jelly Belly, and Lieswyn’s teammates Greg Henderson and Gord Fraser, the field strung out quickly in the crosswind, whittling down to only three-quarters of the field in a lead pack less than 30 miles in.

Than at 36 miles, a group of 17 rolled off, and it was the break that proved to be more decisive than many people thought.
“That big group got clear, and it’s like we just pulled away,” Farrar said.

“I was impressed with how well everyone was working,” Milne said of the break members.

At the time, though, while the break had strong representation from Jelly Belly (Manion and Brice Jones), McGuire Real Estate/Laugdale Pro Cycling (Eric Saunders and Devon Vigus), Fiordifrutta (Mike Dietrich and Dan Timmerman), and Endeavor (Bookwalter and Rytlewski), it only contained one member each of Navigator’s and Health Net. And organization seemed to fall apart late in the race.”The bunch sort of went half-hearted,” Manion said.

Lieswyn knew if the right chase formed, he could catch the break.
“[Navigator’s Chris] Baldwin came up to me as we were pulling away and said that the break was gone, just give up,” Lieswyn said. “You can’t say die.”

With Navigator’s Siro Camponogra, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home’s Aaron Olson, and current NCAA road race champion Bobby Lea in the chase with Lieswyn, the group had more than enough power to catch the break, and Lieswyn said they produced the right organization to do it. “Because of the hill on the circuit, I knew if we didn’t catch them before then circuit, we’d be fine,” he said. They did catch them before the circuit, on a small hill 73 miles into the race and four miles from the circuit. Then it was just a suffer fest.”That hill on the circuit took its toll,” Lea said.

With six climbs up, riders started shedding after the second climb. It was not until lap 4 of the 2.3-mile circuit, though, where the final selection was made. Lieswyn jumped on the diminished pack for the king of the mountains points and took Manion and Milne with him. Then on the last lap, he dropped them, too.”That’s all I had,” Milne said after trying to catch Lieswyn with 500 meters to go.

Still, while Friday’s course in downtown Minneapolis proves to be a day for the sprinters, Saturday’s course in Red Wing along the bluffs of the Mississippi River and Sunday’s tough circuit race still leaves a lot of intrigue for the men, especially since the holder’s of the leader’s jersey only have four riders to defend.

“We’re going to have to come up with a good strategy,” said Lieswyn, who also took the King of the Mountain’s jersey.

“Things will change,” Navigator’s director Ray Cipollini said.

Women’s Report:
Thorburn takes unexpected hard Stage 2 at Nature Valley

Women cyclists at the Mankato stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix expected a flat course — until they saw the Queen of the Mountains hill on the two-and-a-half-mile finishing circuit.

“It’s pretty flat. We’re used to mountains in California,” Webcor Builder’s Christine Thorburn said before stage 2 of the Great River Energy Bike Festival and Nature Valley Grand Prix in Mankato, Minn. “Ok, the circuit hill is a HILL. I guess have to eat my words.”

“That’s going to hurt. Especially after 75 miles,” said Shawn Heidgen of TDS-Schwalbe. And while the 75 miles with several sprint primes in the first 60 miles looked to reduce some of the field, it was not enough to prevent Thorburn from taking her second win in two days and keep ahead of T-Mobile’s Kimberly Baldwin and Kori Seehafer.
The first hour of stage 2 chugged along at better than 24 miles an hour. Sprinters tried to wear down climbers anticipating the big hill they’d face four times before the finish line.

Strong crosswinds whipped across the course, too, and they took their toll on climbers as well. Sprinters knew they could drop their frailer competitors and they did, starting with Ford-Basis’ Kristin Danielson.

Numerous attacks failed with only Magen Long of the Bicycle Store ever getting more than 30 seconds up on the group. Then a crash at mile 32 took down TDS’ young rider hopeful Michelle Hyland, Ford’s Kele Hulser, and two T-Mobile riders, sprinter Ina Yoko Teutenberg and former NVGP champ Katie Mactier.

“They lost a lot of power when Ina crashed,” Thorburn said.
“Yeah, we were doing fine till the crash,” Baldwin said.
“I saw three people lying on the ground already,” Teutenberg said as she came around the corner. With their GC contender on the ground along with their star sprinter, T-Mobile organized to let them catch back on to the already flying peloton. “We had to keep it controlled and steady,” said Seehafer. “We had to go up front and slow the pace down and have a presence on the road.”

While some competitors might’ve seen their chance, other teams complied with T-Mobile’s efforts.
“Ina’s a really respected rider,” Webcor’s Thorburn added.
Meanwhile, Quark’s Tina Pic and Laura Van Gilder, Victory Brewing’s Rochelle Gilmore and Teutenberg battled for sprint points. Gilmore also took the first Queen of the Mountains contest over Quark’s Swiss climber, Annette Beutler, and T-Mobile’s Baldwin. Thorburn was fourth up the first hill, but continued her attack onto the downtown finishing circuit.

“I knew this would be a good circuit course for Annette,” Thorburn said, “I didn’t want to get gapped from her. The third time up Annette and I crested together, so I said let’s work.”
Thorburn and Beutler worked together to lose T-Mobile’s climbers, Seehafer and Baldwin. “Kori and I were behind them with a big group,” Baldwin said, “and we couldn’t get anybody to help chase. Nobody wanted to pull, so we got stuck in no man’s land.”

After the third lap, Beutler exploded to the finishing line of the four-lap circuit course ahead of Thorburn.
“She just put her arms up. She thought it was only three laps,” Thorburn said. “She told me we had to go.”

“I was thinking it was only three laps,” an embarrassed Beutler said.
“She didn’t attack, that’s one thing. Then I didn’t have too much power to follow her,” Beutler said about Thorburn taking a second stage and the leader’s jersey for a second day. “It was my mistake, and that’s the race.”

Thorburn increased her GC lead to 45 seconds over T-Mobile’s Seehafer. Baldwin is just a second behind her. Quark’s Grace Fleury, Pic, and Van Gilder are all within a minute as is Monex’s Lynn Gaggioli.

Pic leads the Freewheel Bike Points Jersey race ahead of Thorburn and Gilmore. Beutler is holding onto the best climber’s jersey. Alisha Lion of Ford-Basis has taken the best young rider jersey after stage 2.

All the riders talked about how tough stage 2 was and how they looked forward to a rest until stage 3’s Friday night criterium in downtown Minneapolis where the race will be flat.

“It’s not flat here,” Baldwin said who grew up in Green Bay, “I should’ve known that being from the Midwest. Everything rolls here.”

Men’s Stage 2 Results
1. John Lieswyn Health Net presented by Maxxis 3.27’41”
2. Shawn Milne Navigators Insurance Cycling Team at 17″
3. Tyler Farrar Health Net presented by Maxxis at 27″
4. Bernard Van Ulden Webcor Builders Cycling Team at 42″
5. Caleb Manion Jelly Belly-Pool Gel at 44″
6. Bobby Lea Team Northwestern Mortgage at 50″
7. Aaron Olson Colavita Olive Oil – Sutter at 54″
8. Jon Hamblen Fiordifrutta at 1’15”
9. Andrew Crater Team Wheel & Sprocket at 1’17”
10. Brian Jensen HRRC / Saddlewood Bikesource Specialized at 1’18”

GC after Stage 2
1. John Lieswyn Health Net presented by Maxxis 3.27’41”
2. Shawn Milne Navigators Insurance Cycling Team at 17″
3. Tyler Farrar Health Net presented by Maxxis at 27″
4. Bernard Van Ulden Webcor Builders Cycling Team at 42″
5. Caleb Manion Jelly Belly-Pool Gel at 44″
6. Bobby Lea Team Northwestern Mortgage at 50″
7. Aaron Olson Colavita Olive Oil — Sutter at 54″
8. Jon Hamblen Fiordifrutta at 1’15”
9. Andrew Crater Team Wheel & Sprocket at 1’17”
10. Brian Jensen HRRC / Saddlewood Bikesource Specialized at 1’18”

Women’s Stage 2 Results
1. Christine Thorburn Webcor Builder’s Women’s Cycling Team 3.46’05”
2. Nicole Freedman Ford-Basis at 12″
3. Tina Pic Quark Cycling Team at 12″
4. Kori Seehafer T-Mobile at 12″
5. Annette Beutler Quark Cycling Team at 14″
6. Lynn Gaggioli Monex at 14″
7. Kimberly Baldwin T-Mobile at 14″
8. Laura Van Gilder Quark Cycling Team at 14″
9. Meredith Miller Victory Brewing Cycling Team at 14″
10. Grace Fleury Quark Cycling Team at 14″

GC after Stage 2
1. Christine Thorburn Webcor Builders Women’s Cycling Team 3.55.19
2. Kori Seehafer T-Mobile at 45″
3. Kimberly Baldwin T-Mobile at 46″
4. Grace Fleury Quark Cycling Team at 54″
5. Tina Pic Quark Cycling Team at 55″
6. Lynn Gaggioli Monex at 56″
7. Laura Van Gilder Quark Cycling Team at 58″
8. Chrissy Ruiter Ford-Basis at 1’06”
9. Nicole Freedman Ford-Basis at 1’09”
10. Helen Kelly Quark Cycling Team at 1’12”

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