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Nature Valley GP – Stage 5 Report, Results, Photos – Canada\’s Veilleux 4th, Samplonius 5th

June 15, 2008 (Mankato, MN) – By the end of the day, Jacques-Maynes played the hand he was dealt and lost his lead to a Healthnet squad who came into the finishing 4-lap circuit with a full house. In a show of power that replicated his win from last year, Rory Sutherland rode away from his main rivals up the 1-mile, 14-percent-grade climb with two laps to take his second straight win in the 91.5-mile Mankato Road Race and with it the leader’s jersey.

“I know I can’t accelerate with him,” said Jacques-Maynes, whose team did much of the work on the windy, rolling farm roads of south-central Minnesota. “I just have to ride him back.” With early accelerations from Colavita-Sutter Home’s Anthony Colby up the climb, though, and both Sutherland and teammate John Murphy riding in the group, Jacques-Maynes had nothing left to match Healthnet’s winning pair.

“I had to cover things a little too early,” he said, noting that he lost key teammate Edward King, who flatted coming into the fast entrance of the finishing circuit. Coming into the day, King was sitting fifth on general classification and could have kept the leader’s jersey with the team if Jacques-Maynes couldn’t. “It was perfect,” said Healthnet’s Murphy, who finished fourth on the stage and moved into second on GC. “It was Ben’s race to lose.”

“When I went, I went at about 85 percent to see what could happen,” said Sutherland, who accelerated up the climb on lap 3 to join Colby. “By the time we got to the top, I could see that the gap was holding.” After dropping Jacques-Maynes on the climb, Sutherland’s attention turned to Toyota-United’s Ivan Stevic, who entered the day tied with Sutherland on time. “I had to get rid of Stevic,” he said. Stevic said there was no holding back Sutherland. “The strongest guy won. Rory was amazing. When a guy like that wins, I shake his hand.

“We, as a team did everything perfect,” he said after finishing the stage in sixth, just in front of his teammate, Caleb Manion. Toyota did little in the strong headwinds outside of the city, letting Bissell do all the work to keep attacks under control in a race. It was out in the winds that Stevic noticed Jacques-Maynes’ team was losing steam. “In the crosswinds, he was only with one or two teammates,” he sad. “It was perfect for us and Healthnet.”

In a race known to break apart the peloton with crosswinds, the strong headwinds changed the strategies for many teams. “There was enough headwind to neutralize the group in the long windy sections,” said Jelly Belly’s Nick Reistad, who kept the Jelly Belly Sports Beans King of the Mountain jersey.

“The headwinds were too strong to do anything,” said Healthnet director sportif Mike Tamayo, who planned to use the winds to wear down Bissell and Jacques-Maynes. “So, we changed our strategy, and each right turn into the crosswinds, we would force Bissell and everyone into the gutter and force them to use a lot of energy to stay with us. “Those guys had to work hard.”

“The wind felt like it was in your face all day,” Jacques-Maynes said. What the wind didn’t take out of the riders, the climb did. Stevic said that is where Healthnet really turned up the heat. “It was amazing how fast [Sutherland] was on that climb,” he said. “He went so hard, so fast. There is not shame losing to a guy like that.”

Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast’s David Veilleux, who finished fifth on the stage and took the Boost Best Young Rider jersey, said he thought Toyota would be able to reel Sutherland back in. “I couldn’t get on their wheel,” he said after rolling through the third climb up in fourth wheel behind Sutherland, Colby, and Murphy.

Instead, he sat on Stevic’s wheel, which proved to be a popular place in the final lap. “They let [Sutherland] go and I just sat on Ben,” Murphy said. “I just went with him to see if he could respond. Coming into the final, I was really worried about Stevic. I didn’t want him to get a chance at any bonus seconds.”

With third place on the stage going to Kelly Benefit Stratagies’ Andrew Bajadali, Stevic was denied those seconds, leaving Sutherland smiling in the leader’s jersey going into Sunday’s finale in the Stillwater Criterium. “I was pretty happy we didn’t have the jersey coming into the race today,” he said. “It takes so much concentration to protect the jersey. It’s nice to be able to switch off and just focus on the wheel in front.”

With the jersey, that priority changes. “Now, the number one priority and only priority is to keep the jersey,” he said, sitting on a 12-second lead to teammate Murphy, 15 seconds over Stevic, and 24 seconds over Jacques-Maynes. “It’s not over until you cross the line.” “It’s going to be a big battle between us and Healthnet,” said Stevic. “We’re going to play like today.”

Kristin Armstrong Repeats her Win in Mankato to Keep Yellow Jersey
by Lindsey Dickinson

Cervélo-Lifeforce rider and defending Nature Valley Grand Prix champion Kristin Armstrong gave the large crowd of spectators and the women’s peloton déjà vu as she powered through four hilly finishing circuits to repeat her 2007 stage win of the fifth stage of the race, increasing her lead and protecting her hold on the Nature Valley GP Overall Leader yellow jersey.

The peloton entered the finishing circuits basically gruppo compatto after a long, hot, windy afternoon in the rolling plains of central Minnesota. That formation didn’t last long, as Armstrong attacked on the first circuit, eventually beating the field by a wide margin. TIBCO rider Lauren Franges took second and Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team rider Katharine Carroll took third, though they finished 37 and 40 seconds behind Armstrong, respectively.

“I just had to put my head down and go as hard as I could,” said Armstrong of her move on the steep hill of the finishing circuit. “I knew that if I go and if I get caught I only had so many of those attacks in me. I could have waited for two laps into it, but the longer I wait, the more I get attacked and even if it’s on the climb, I’m still going to get attacked, so I’d rather just take things into my own hands.”

Many of the teams challenging Armstrong knew that if the peloton entered the circuit as a group, it would be tough to beat her. That set up a long stage of attacks, but none as bold as the one staged by Webcor’s Katheryn Curi Mattis, who took on a solo effort early in the race and wasn’t reeled in until more than 55 miles into the 91.5-mile stage. At one point Curi Mattis’ lead was nearly two minutes ahead of the field. That effort put her in the Freewheel Bikes Most Aggressive jersey for the stage.

“I didn’t exactly mean to be that aggressive that early, but my feeling is once I committed myself, I had to go with it,” said Curi Mattis. “I’m coming back from two pretty bad accidents. I had a second surgery about seven-and-a-half weeks ago on my collar bone so I definitely don’t have the fitness that these other gals do. I’m trying to race myself, so that’s what I was just kind of thinking the whole time I was out there””I’m just building fitness and trying to work hard and get back in shape. I didn’t think I was going to be out there for that long and I was so relieved once Kristin Sanders came up because it gave me a little bit of an incentive. I’m pretty tired now.”

Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling team rider Kristin Sanders joined Katheryn Curi Mattis for approximately the last 15 miles of her break. While Sanders bridged up to Curi Mattis, the rest of the Aaron’s team took control of the field. “The team rode extremely well,” said Aaron’s rider Katharine Carroll. “We tried to just be smart with our efforts. It’s such a long day and it’s a hot day to just be throwing attacks all the time without a purpose, it’s really just to waste energy. So the girls did a good job of attacking at the right time and trying to apply pressure.”

Aaron’s effort was part of the team’s larger strategy for the day. “We wanted to race our bikes,” said Aaron’s rider Felicia Gomez, who kept her hold on the Jelly Belly Queen of the Hill jersey after the stage. “All year we’ve been trying to race our bikes and we didn’t want to hand this race to Kristin. She’s obviously the strongest rider out there, obviously a formidable opponent, but we wanted to try. We knew that as we came into the circuits with her, she was going to ride away, which she did. What we were trying to do out there was make her do some work”¦ in the end, I think we can be really, really proud of how we rode. We’re not going to hand it to somebody. I think the attitude of our team is that we would rather try and maybe we don’t succeed and at least we tried.”

The Aaron’s team’s effort against Armstrong didn’t go unnoticed by the race leader. “I have to give Aaron’s kudos for racing their bikes today,” said Armstrong. “They really raced a hard race. They tried, and all you can do is try. They didn’t want me to come into the circuits fresh and every one of those girls on Aaron’s gave it 100 percent. I was impressed.”

For their part, Team TIBCO went out focused on protecting Joanne Kiesanowski’s hold on the Wheaties Sprint jersey and the effort was successful. Kristin McGrath of Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light held onto the Nature Valley Top Amateur jersey and the BOOST Best Young Rider jersey.

The women turned their attention to the last, and possibly biggest challenge of the Nature Valley Grand Prix””the Stillwater Criterium and the infamous Chilkoot Hill. With one stage to go, Armstrong’s game plan stayed the same. “One more day”¦ it’s a tough day,” said Armstrong. “It’s going to be warm out there. Girls are going to be antsy. Again, my number one goal, as I’ve said all week, is training for Beijing and number two is to stay upright. If a win comes from that, good. I feel pretty good about the yellow jersey right now and if I can get my teammate up the road for a win, I’d love to because she’s worked so hard for me.”

Armstrong also noted the Minnesota spectators as helpful to her efforts. “The fans are great. The community’s wonderful,” said Armstrong. “They’re very welcoming. You can tell that when we’re out on the courses or at the finish lines. There’s always a smile on their faces.” Armstrong also enjoyed connecting with one of her younger fans. “You know, [in Cannon Falls ] I had a little girl and her father come, her name’s Veronica. She sent a picture to me and it was funny, right when I saw her, I recognized her. Her dad was like “˜do you recognize her?’ And I said, “˜yes!’”¦ and he said, “˜you know what? My daughter’s been waiting one year to see you.’ She was so cute”¦I’m out here, racing my bike, having fun. Obviously I want to be the best athlete I can, but it’s also being and inspiration and a role model for young kids that really inspires me to ride.”

With one more day of difficult racing ahead, there’s no doubt Armstrong and the rest of the women’s field will leave a lasting impression on the fans standing on the fence lines in Stillwater.


Elite Men

1. Rory Sutherland (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 3.30.19
2. Anthony Colby (Colavita Sutter Home)
3. Andrew Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 0.07
4. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast)
5. John Murphy (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis)
6. Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United)
7. Caleb Manion (Toyota-United) 0.21
8. Ricardo Escuela (Successful Living.com P/B Parkpre) 0.26
9. Matthew Busche (IS Corp Cycling Team)
10. Cesar Grajales (Rock Racing)

19. Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United) 0.39
52. Martin Gilbert (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 3.01

Elite Women

1. Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce Professional Cycling Team) 3.59.05
2. Lauren Franges (Team TIBCO) 0.37
3. Katharine Carroll (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 0.40
4. Joanne Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO)
5. Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine Cycling)
6. Brooke Miller (Team TIBCO)
7. Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine Cycling)
8. Kristin McGrath (Colavita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light)
9. Ruth Corset (Jazz Apple Cycling Team)

21. Felicia Gomez (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 1.19
74. Marni Hambleton (ValueAct Capital Cycling Team) 10.25

GC after Stage 5

Elite Men

1. Rory Sutherland (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 7.11.56
2. John Murphy (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 0.12
3. Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) 0.15
4. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.24
5. Edward King (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.39
6. Anthony Colby (Colavita Sutter Home) 0.4
7. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 0.43
8. Andrew Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 0.57
9. Luis Amaran (Colavita Sutter Home) 1.13
10. Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United) 1.16

47. Martin Gilbert (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 4.04

Elite Women

1. Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce Professional Cycling Team) 7.38.07
2. Katharine Carroll (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 1.33
3. Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine Cycling) 1.40
4. Joanne Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO) 2.17
5. Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine Cycling) 2.19
6. Ruth Corset (Jazz Apple Cycling Team) 2.33
7. Kristin McGrath (Colavita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light) 2.34
8. Shelley Olds (PROMAN Racing) 2.38
9. Catherine Cheatley (Cheerwine Cycling) 2.39
10. Felicia Gomez (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team)

63. Marni Hambleton (ValueAct Capital Cycling Team) 13.53

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