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Nature Valley GP – Stages 3, 4 – Canada\’s Samplonius 3rd, Veilleux 10th Overall

June 14, 2008 (Minneapolis, MN) – Team TIBCO’s Brooke Miller sprinted to the stage victory in the party-like atmosphere of the Minneapolis Downtown Classic during Stage 4 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, beating her competitors to the line with an outstanding effort. Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light rider Tina Pic took second in the stage, while Team High Road rider Kate Bates took third. The peloton finished in a pack, and general classification standings weren’t affected.

“I had a fantastic lead-out,” said Miller after her victory, “Lauren [Franges] and Jo [Kiesanowski] did a great job. It was a fantastic team effort. Tina [Pic] and Laura [Van Gilder] are fantastic sprinters but with my lead out, I could focus on my race. I can’t say enough about how my team did, they did a great, great job.” TIBCO’s team effort was rewarded, with Joanne Kiesanowski keeping the Wheaties Sprint Leader jersey and Lauren Franges winning the Freewheel Most Aggressive Rider jersey. The team’s performance no doubt soothed some of the psychic wounds from bad-luck crashes and mechanical problems during the early stages of the race. “As I’ve been told, we’ve been getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop,” said Miller.

To retain the Wheaties Sprint jersey, TIBCO’s Kiesanowski won two of the three sprint laps in the 25 lap race. “I felt really confident with my team tonight,” said Kiesanowski. “Someone either attacked or covered every move.”

Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light rider Tina Pic again demonstrated her sprinting prowess by taking second in the stage, despite the fact that her squad lost three riders to time cuts after the morning time trial. Pic managed the result by staying toward the front of the pack. “Once you get back, it’s really hard to get back up,” Pic said. “There’s only a couple of spots on the course where you can move up and people are always going really hard in those spots.”

Third place finisher and Team High Road rider Kate Bates is using the Nature Valley Grand Prix as part of her preparations for track racing in Bejing with the Australian Olympic team. Bates, who is the current world champion for the points race in track cycling, saw the criterium as training. “For me, the focus this year isn’t really on road racing,” said Bates. “I’ve been really kind of single-minded and narrow-focused.” Bates also noted how Armstrong controlled the race. “Kristin, she’s a motorbike. As soon as she felt threatened, she got to the front and strung it out”¦ I tried to get away a million times, but I’m not the strongest sprinter here, you can see that.”

Armstrong, who led some of the laps during the stage is pleased to be the race leader but still focused on Bejing. “The yellow jersey is a bonus,” said Armstrong. “I’ve won the last two years, and I love this race. If I can take home the yellow jersey, I’ll take it.” After her dominating performance at the criterium in Saint Paul and leading for part of the Downtown Minneapolis Classic, Armstrong attributes her actions to preparing for the Olympics. “It’s part of training and it’s part of staying safe.”

Katharine Carroll of Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team and Cheerwine’s Anne Samplonius are trailing Armstrong in second and third in the general classification standings. PROMAN Racing’s Shelley Olds and Aaron’s Felicia Gomez round out the top five. Twenty-five women are within two minutes of Armstrong’s time with two stages left to ride.

Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light rider Kristin McGrath is currently wearing both the BOOST Best Young Rider jersey and the Nature Valley Top Amateur jersey, while Felicia Gomez of Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team retained the Jelly Belly Queen of the Hill jersey.

As the women turn their attention to Saturday’s 91-mile road stage in Mankato, Armstrong is keeping her Olympic focus, and the way in which the women’s field is helping her prep for the medal race. “I appreciate it,” said Armstrong. “I couldn’t do this kind of training at home.”

Men’s Race
by James Lockwood

Bissell’s Ben Jacques-Maynes knew what he and his team had to do to protect his leader’s jersey in the fourth stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Minneapolis Downtown Classic criterium.

Health Net-Maxxis knew what they wanted to do to put pressure on the jersey and win the race. And Toyota-United’s Ivan Stevic knew what he needed to do to stay in contention.

By the end of the 40-lap race, all three had achieved their goal, setting up a individual battle reminiscent to the 2007 Nature Valley Grand Prix. Even the stage winners — or, in this case, winner — are the same.

“It’s like déjà vu. Just like last year,” Health Net’s Kirk O’Bee said after winning for the second year in a row in Minneapolis and taking his second win of the 2008 stage race. He pipped Stevic at the line by a tire, with Successful Living’s Ricardo Escuela coming in third.

Jacques-Maynes said Health Net’s win was fine, as his team kept him safe and in the leader’s yellow jersey, controlling the front, setting a hard pace, and protecting him from any attacks. “That’s the easiest I’ve ever done this crit,” he said. “My guys were great. This course is so tight, and they set such a hard pace, no one could do a thing.”

The only attempt to try a break came from Colavita-Sutter Home’s Luis Amaran and TIME’s Tom Soladay. Amaran attacked six laps in and was joined by Soladay two laps later.

Bissell appeared content to let them sit out front, setting tempo. Jacques-Maynes’ team kept the duo at arms length for 13 laps, never letting them get more than a 12-second gap. It wasn’t until Rock Racing’s Michael Creed, sitting 10th overall, sprinted to join Soladay and Amaran with 19 laps to go did Bissell move to shut the break down until the sprinters were ready to play.

“We were expecting the sprinters’ team to move up and take over with 10 laps to go, so that was fine,” he said of his team ceding the lead of the race.

It wasn’t just their plan, either. “We decided at the start of the race that we would move up with 10 laps to go,” O’Bee said. “The plan was to move up with 10 laps to go, but Health Net beat us to the punch,” said Ryan Yee, director for Successful Living.

Outside of Bissell, most teams had plans for the sprint. With 12 to go, Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast sent David Veilleux, Jonathan Sundt, and Reid Mumford to the front to set tempo. Bissell was unwilling to lose control that early, and they kept their riders in the mix.

With nine laps to go, Health Net finally massed their black and green jerseys at the head of the peloton but had to battle Jelly Belly and Successful Living trying to organize their respective sprint trains inside the final five laps.

The only team missing from the equation was Toyota-United, who had former Minneapolis Downtown Classic winner Henk Vogels as its sole rider in the mix, battling both Health Net’s O’Bee and John Murphy inside the final laps. It wasn’t until the final lap did Toyota send Vogels some help, with Dominique Rollin and Caleb Manion taking the inside line to Health Net’s into the first corner.

However, Health Net’s train proved too strong for any of the other teams to get up front. “My guys did it for me. They kept the speed high enough at the right time,” O’Bee said of his teammates, who recorded a 40-mile-per-hour pace on the radar gun in the next to last lap. “When Rory went in the last lap, he couldn’t go any faster.”

The speed proved to be just right, both for O’Bee and for Stevic. “I had the perfect wheel,” Stevic said of O’Bee’s. O’Bee knew it, too. “I took [the sprint] kind of early. I knew he was sitting on me.”

Even with a desperate throw of his bike, Stevic was unable to take advantage of O’Bee’s long leadout and lost by the width of a tire. Still, the podium finish for Stevic was the plan for the race, giving him bonus seconds with the placing to move up on general classification.

“I feel like I am back in the game with the 10-second bonus,” he said. “The upcoming stages in Mankato and Stillwater are made for me and Caleb.” Despite not having the leader’s jersey, Health Net director sportif Mike Tamayo said the team is right where it should be, too.

“I’ve got three guys sitting in second, third, and fifth, overall,” Tamayo said, referring to John Murphy, O’Bee, and Sutherland. “It gives us a few cards to play. Tomorrow, we race for yellow.”

Saturday’s fifth stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the 91.5-mile Mankato Road Race, features a 4-lap circuit that includes a mile long climb with an average grade of 14 percent.

Results

Stage 3 – June 13 – St. Paul Riverfront Time Trial

Elite Men

1. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 12.32
2. Rory Sutherland (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 0.08
3. John Murphy (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 0.13
4. Edward King (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.15
5. Scott Zwizanski (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.18
6. Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) 0.2
7. Garrett Peltonen (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.28
8. Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.32
9. Michael Creed (Rock Racing) 0.33
10. Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)

13. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 0.38
14. Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United) 0.39
48. Martin Gilbert (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 1.05


Elite Women

1. Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce Professional Cycling Team) 13.44
2. Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine Cycling) 0.42
3. Katharine Carroll (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 0.47
4. Meredith Miller (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 0.53
5. Felicia Gomez (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 1.02
6. Shelley Olds (PROMAN Racing) 1.07
7. Kristin Sanders (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 1.16
8. Rebecca Much (Webcor Builders) 1.21
9. Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine Cycling)
10. Alison Starnes (Nature Valley Cycling Team) 1.23

93. Marni Hambleton (ValueAct Capital Cycling Team) 3.1
HD Gina Grain (Webcor Builders)


Stage 4 – June 13 – Minneapolis Downtown Classic

Elite Men

1. Kirk O’Bee (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 1.03.10
2. Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United)
3. Ricardo Escuela (Successful Living:com P/B Parkpre)
4. Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast)
5. Luca Damiani (Colavita Sutter Home)
6. Kayle Leogrande (Rock Racing)
7. Rory Sutherland (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis)
8. Richard England (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)
9. Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United)
10. Russ Langley (Battley HARLEY-DAVIDSON/Sonoma Bar)

22. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast)
45. Martin Gilbert (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast)


Elite Women

1. Brooke Miller (Team TIBCO) 43.09
2. Tina Pic (Colavita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light)
3. Katherine Bates (Team Highroad)
4. Joanne Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO)
5. Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine Cycling)
6. Katharine Carroll (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team)
7. Shelley Olds (PROMAN Racing)
8. Lara Kroepsch (ValueAct Capital Cycling Team)
9. Kacey Manderfield (Verducci/Breakaway Racing)
10. Catherine Cheatley (Cheerwine Cycling)

16. Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine Cycling)
24. Felicia Gomez (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team)
44. Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine Cycling)
46. Marni Hambleton (ValueAct Capital Cycling Team)
DNF Gina Grain (Webcor Builders)


GC after Stage 4

Elite Men

1. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 3.41.35
2. John Murphy (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 0.07
3. Kirk O’Bee (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 0.1
4. Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United)
5. Edward King (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.15
6. Rory Sutherland (Team Healthnet Presented by Maxxis) 0.17
7. Scott Zwizanski (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.27
8. Michael Creed (Rock Racing) 0.33
9. Garrett Peltonen (Bissell Pro Cycling Team) 0.37
10. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 0.38

11. Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United) 0.39
34. Martin Gilbert (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) 1.05


Elite Women

1. Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce Professional Cycling Team) 3.39.17
2. Katharine Carroll (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 0.44
3. Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine Cycling) 0.45
4. Shelley Olds (PROMAN Racing) 1.04
5. Felicia Gomez (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 1.05
6. Kristin Sanders (Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling Team) 1.19
7. Joanne Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO) 1.22
8. Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine Cycling) 1.24
9. Amber Rais (Team TIBCO) 1.3
10. Martina Patella (ValueAct Capital Cycling Team)

56. Marni Hambleton (ValueAct Capital Cycling Team) 3.13















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