June 18, 2011 (Minneapolis, MN) – Stage 4’s major breakaway in the women’s race included two Canadians, Joëlle Numainville (Team TIBCO/To The Top) and Leah Kirchmann (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo p/b Cooking Light) along with Shelley Olds (Diadora/Pasta Zara), Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co. 2012) and Amanda Miller (HTC-High Road).
The group worked well together but after Tamayo dropped back to the pack to help race leader Kristin Armstrong and her other teammates, the break succumbed to the pressure of the peloton and was caught with seven laps to go. In the final turn before the bell lap, a large crash took down many riders, who were strewn across the road. This made it impossible for the race to continue and Chief Referee Bonnie Walker decided to nullify the race, meaning that none of the point or time bonuses from the stage will count.
Soon after the crash, I caught sight of Canadian Road Champion Numainville sitting on the asphalt, looking dazed. All of the journalists knew enough not to invade the riders’ space at that time, so I waited until later to get an update on Numainville. I saw TIBCO/To The Top’s Director, Lisa Hunt, by the team vehicles and had a word with her:
What’s your understanding of what happened in the crash,did Joëlle tell you?
Lisa Hunt: Joëlle didn’t really tell me. All I know is that it didn’t happen right at the front, it happened a little further back. I have no idea. All of a sudden – I was on the back side and I started walking up here and I saw only a handful of riders, maybe 25 or 30 riders and everyone was down so I really don’t know what happened.
How is Joëlle? She looked pretty shaken up.
LH: She was shaken up. She cut her leg – I’m still trying to find her and I don’t know where she is. So she might be with medical so I’m trying to find her now.
Thank you. Can I call you later for an update?
LH: Yeah, no problem.
I was heading back for the imminent start of the men’s race when I spotted Erinne Willock (Team TIBCO/To The Top). Since Erinne hadn’t been involved in the crash I knew she’d be ok so thought I’d ask her a few questions. Willock is 8th on GC at 48 seconds behind race leader Kristin Armstrong
Did you see what happened?
Erinne Willock: No, I was actually at the front doing a leadout. We had
TIBCO lined up with Carmen (Small) for the sprint, Joëlle was in the
crash and I believe Megan (Guarnier) from TIBCO and lots of other girls.
Lisa’s looking for Joëlle now…
EW: Oh, they’re right over there, walking here now.
How is she?
EW: She’s shaken up and her calf is pretty sore. Yeah, it was a hard day!
Yeah, it sure was, another one. Glad you stayed out of it.
EW: Yeah, I did (laughs!)
Joëlle was walking my way with Hunt. She looked a lot better than the last time I’d seen her and said she’d answer a few questions.
Do you know what caused the crash?
Joëlle Numainville: I don’t know – everybody went down so fast. You know, people are tired, we’ve been racing a couple of stages. I have no idea, I just saw a pileup. I tried to avoid it, but you know, when you have five people down already it’s really hard to avoid it.
Are your injuries mostly skin?
JN: Yeah, skin, stitches and stuff but I’ll be alright.
JN: Yeah, yeah, it was deep, I had a big hole there (her calf). Yeah, we’ll see
tomorrow, I hope it will be better.
At least you’re smiling now, you looked pretty stunned out there.
JN: I was a little bit upset. I rode a pretty good race other than that. I was happy with the break (with Leah Kirchmann, Shelley Olds, Lauren Tamayo and Amanda Miller)…I thought it would stick.
So what do you need to do for your leg tonight?
JN: Ice it and get some recovery for tomorrow.
Thank you and get some rest.
JN: All right, thanks.