June 12, 2005 (Red Wing, Minn.) — Canada’s Gina Grain is absolutely, swear-on-a-stack-of-bibles-on-her-mother’s-grave certain, that she got hit by lightning. “Ok, you can never be sure,” the Victory Brewing rider said laughing, “but this, big, huge thing of lightning came down and my fingers on my right hand were on the shifters — the metal part — and then I felt this buzzing all the way up to my elbow.”
Whether it struck her or not, it was enough to put a scare into race officials, who stopped the race 60 miles in for about 20 minutes. Riders were told to take shelter, and most went to a nearby farmer’s barn. “It was a first-time experience for me,” Grain said. “I never could have imagined having a coffee break in a barn during a race. It was the safest thing to do, a good call on the officials.”
Once the storms passed and racing resumed, it was Quark Cycling Team’s Tina Pic who provided the sparks as she had done most of the day, taking the win in 4 hours, 42 minutes ahead of T-Mobile’s Kori Seehafer and Annette Beutler, also of Quark. With bonus time on the win and two of the sprint primes she took on the day, Pic moved into second overall, 26 seconds behind leader Christine Thorburn who finished in the pack in fifth place.
Racing started as soon as mile 21. Pic and Monex’s Lynn Gaggioli went 1-2 in the first couple of sprints, then Grain took a flyer off the front. Webcor set tempo and covered all the attacks.
“It was a pretty aggressive race,” Thorburn said. “My team did a good job. Erinne (Willock) was a superstar.”
“Grace (Fleury) from Quark was off,” Willock said. “She was motoring. We had to catch her, and then Christine was off with her.”
“Webcor was chasing everybody from one side of the road because of the wind,” Pic said, “so you ended up being in the gutter all the time.”
The group hit a gravel road and that stretched out the entire peloton. Teams tried to take the front ahead of skittish riders, but the rain delay reunited the group. After the delay, Quark’s Fleury and Webcor’s Cat Malone got 53 seconds on the group, but they were reeled in as the group entered the Red Wing finishing circuit.
“We were trying to save ourselves for the finishing circuit,” Seehafer said. “We were in the threat of losing podium places because Quark had time bonuses. I instigated a break on lap two, bringing four riders with me. Then me and Erinne Willock were working.”
“Laura (Van Gilder) and I were so close in the standings,” Pic said. “We wanted to get one of us the win. It was nice to get on when T-Mobile took the front.”
Seehafer drove the breakaway group for three laps trying to pop the sprinters. She ended up towing Pic, Beutler, Gaggioli, and Thorburn, and that’s how they finished. Pic won the stage and 25 seconds in time bonuses. Seehafer scored second place and 11 seconds.
Along with leading Pic, Thorburn is ahead of Seehafer by 34 seconds back, with Baldwin 44 seconds behind. Beutler still holds the best climber’s jersey. Pic has a 16-point lead in the Freewheel Bike points competition, and Willock has regained the best young rider’s jersey.
“It was a hard, tough race,” Victory’s Grain said. “It’s a lot different with the hills this year. It’s good hard training. And this year because of the course changes, it’s not so much of a race just for the sprinters.”
Racers will have to recuperate quickly. The last stage in the hilly, tourist town of Stillwater, Minn., is the last chance to gain any time on Thorburn, but riders will have to fight the fatigue of climbing Stillwater’s Chilakoot Hill. The grade is 20 percent, and the winding course makes it easy for the group to lose sight of a breakaway.
Women’s Results Stage 4
1. Tina Pic Quark Cycling Team 4.42’40”
2. Kori Seehafer T-Mobile 4.42’40”
3. Annette Beutler Quark Cycling Team 4.42’40”
4. Lynn Gaggioli Monex 4.42’40”
5. Christine Thorburn Webcor Builder’s Women’s Cycling Team 4.42’40”
6. Patricia Schwager TDS-Schwalbe 4.42’40”
7. Kim Anderson Colavita/Cooking Light 4.42’40”
8. Kimberly Baldwin T-Mobile 4.42’40”
9. Erinne Willock Webcor Builder’s Women’s Cycling Team 4.42’40”
10. Teresa Moriarty Flanders/MBRC, 59″
GC after Stage 4
1. Christine Thorburn Webcor Builder’s Women’s Cycling Team 9.17’32”
2. Tina Pic Quark Cycling Team, 26″
3. Kori Seehafer T-Mobile, 34″
4. Kimberly Baldwin T-Mobile, 44″
5. Annette Beutler Quark Cycling Team, 1’04”
6. Lynn Gaggioli Monex, 1’13”
7. Laura Van Gilder Quark Cycling Team, 1’51”
8. Chrissy Ruiter Ford-Basis, 2’19”
9. Erinne Willock# Webcor Builder’s Women’s Cycling Team, 2’35”
10. Helen Kelly Quark Cycling Team, 2’35”