June 11, 2005 (Minneapolis, Minn.) — Christine Thorburn had everything to lose and nothing to gain Friday night. The Webcor Builder rider came into the third stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Downtown Minneapolis Classic, leading the general classification.
And with the criterium set over city streets during the 40-minute stage, getting a breakaway would be tough with so many turns in the course. More troubling, being involved in a crash could cost her the leader’s jersey.
As predicted, the breakaway didn’t come, and a crash did, in the middle of the race taking out a third of the field. “It was a tight turn,” Thorburn said. “The woman who crashed hit the burg because of the decreasing angle of the turn.” Thorburn went running for the pits when her bike got the worst of it.
“I thought I was going to have to get a bike change. I couldn’t roll my bike,” she said. “They straightened out my bars. Felicia [Greer] gave me her wheel.”
For Thorburn, the day was intense, but it left her right where she started in the leader’s jersey. It also left Ina Yoko Teutenberg of T-Mobile in a familiar spot, too: atop the winner’s podium as champion of the crit, a title she took two years ago. The short course and quick race meant riders were on the redline almost immediately.
“It was a fast race from the start,” said Victory Brewing’s Rochelle Gillmore, who took second behind Teutenberg. “I wasn’t ready for the intensity. I didn’t warm up enough beforehand. I suffered most of the race.” Gillmore was also involved in that mid-race crash, but received a wheel change and got moving again.
The race appeared to be all T-Mobile. Their star sprinter Teutenberg launched off the front and pulled in the early laps. Then Katie Mactier pulled, followed by Kim Baldwin. There were 35 seconds in time bonuses up for grabs that would have narrowed the time gap to Thorburn.
Even climber Annette Beutler of Quark took the reins up front for a few laps, but with four laps to go it was Victory Brewing’s Gina Grain driving. The six-turn course strung out the field and made the most of every rider’s cornering skills. Early afternoon rain dampened the roads just enough to put fear in the racers.
“It was a pretty technical course,” Quark’s Laura Van Gilder said, “and you’ve got to stay up front to make sure you’re not caught unaware.”
“I love technical courses, coming from a BMX background,” said The Bicycle Store’s Magen Long. “I’m glad the rain went away. I was afraid when I heard the tornado warnings. I thought I was back in Oklahoma.”
Long looked like she had a twister behind her as she chased down Teutenberg on the last lap, but it wasn’t enough. Teutenberg’s two-armed, palms-up salute just seemed to say, “Hey, was the outcome ever in doubt?” Van Gilder, Quark’s Tina Pic, and Long followed Teutenberg and Gillmore to the line.
“Ina rode a really good race,” Long said, “Kori Seehafer (T-Mobile) was doing a good job blocking.”
“I wanted to win,” Gillmore said, “but I made a wrong move, waited too long. Then there wasn’t enough room. Just a mistake I made. I’m confident I have the speed to win.”
Teutenberg said it was all teamwork. “I got a good lead-out from my team,” she said. “I had no choice. [My director] told me I had to do it today. It’s good to have a stage win. Now everybody can relax.”
That’s not likely with a 94-mile road race in rolling Red Wing, Minn., on Saturday and a 50-minute crit in historic Stillwater that includes the 20-percent grade up Chilakoot Hill. Plus, Thorburn only holds the GC leader’s jersey by 36 seconds over Van Gilder, who racked up enough time bonuses to leapfrog over Seehafer and Baldwin. “We were on the defensive today,” Thorburn said. “We worked pretty hard on the front.”
“You’re not going to get a minute on someone who’s conscious of it,” Van Gilder said about the Minneapolis crit. “There’s two more hard days of racing. We’re not here to roll over either.”
Stage 3 Results
1. Ina Yoko Teutenberg T-Mobile .39’33”
2. Rochelle Gilmore# Victory Brewing, 10″
3. Laura Van Gilder Quark Cycling Team, 19″
4. Tina Pic Quark Cycling Team, 4″
5. Magen Long The Bicycle Store, 1″
6. Kori Seehafer T-Mobile, 1″
7. Gina Grain Victory Brewing Cycling Team, 1″
8. Megan Elliott Bianchi/Grand Performance, 2″
9. Nicole Freedman Ford-Basis, 2″
10. Mindi Martin Velo Girls Pro Cycling Team, 2″
GC After Stage 3
1. Christine Thorburn Webcor, 4.34’55”
2. Laura Van Gilder Quark Cycling Team, 36″
3. Kori Seehafer T-Mobile, 43″
4. Kimberly Baldwin T-Mobile, 47″
5. Tina Pic Quark Cycling Team, 49″
6. Grace Fleury Quark Cycling Team, 59″
7. Lynn Gaggioli Monex., 1’01”
8. Chrissy Ruiter Ford-Basis, 1’08”
9. Nicole Freedman Ford-Basis, 1’08”
10. Annette Beutler Quark Cycling Team, 1’12”