May 23, 2005 – Defending champ Trixi Worrack (Nurnberger) dominated the final stage of the Tour de l’Aude in southern France, but in the end a single tick of the clock was enough to see Amber Neben (Buitenpoort) salvage the overall win in what will be one of the most exciting finishes of any race this year. And Canadian Lyne Bessette gave it a game try in Aude, relentlessly working her way up the general classification, but her effort eventually left her just short of the podium.
After Saturday’s short individual time trial (Stage 8), won by specialist Karin Thurig (Univega), less than a minute separated the top seven in the general classification, with Worrack just outside that group with a 1:15 gap to the leader, Neben. The entire race had boiled down to the final, very mountainous ninth stage.
The early part of the race whittled the field down to 25 riders, and then at the 65km mark, in the decent of Col du Garavel, Worrack attacked and was close to a minute ahead by the end of the descent. Behind, a seven-rider group that included Bessette and Neben began the chase, but despite their best efforts the gap continued to grow. At the foot of the final climb, 15km to the ski station of Mijanes-Donezan including a very tough final 5km, Neben was 1:30 behind Worrack, and the race was slipping away from her.
Attacking at the foot of the climb, Neben took the final ascent solo, eventually leaving all her chase-mates almost 3 minutes behind her. A final massive effort brought her to 1:11 behind stage winner Worrack, and with time bonuses her final winning margin was a single second. Bessette had a strong final climb, finishing 7th at 4:23, but in the end finished 4th overall behind American Karen Armstrong. A tremendous final stage and tour for Erinne Willock, as well, who finished ninth in the final stage and jumped into the top ten on the overall, ninth at 6:21: a tremendous result.
1 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Nurnberger Versicherung 3.24.19
2 Amber Neben (USA) Buitenpoort Flexpoint 1.11
3 Kristin Armstrong (USA) USA National Team 3.44
4 Anita Valen (Nor) Vlaanderen Capri Sonne 4.09
5 Theresa Senff (Ger) Van Bemmelen Aa Drink 4.13
6 Svetlana Boubnenkova (Rus) Mixed P.M.B. Fenixs 4.17
7 Lyne Bessette (Can) Canadian National Team 4.23
8 Edwige Pitel (Fra) Mixed Univega Pct/Ar 4.42
9 Erinne Willock (Can) Canadian National Team 5.03
10 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Buitenpoort Flexpoint 5.05
59 Felicia Greer (Can) Canadian National Team 35.14
62 Leigh Hobson (Can) Canadian National Team 36.11
Final General classification:
1 Amber Neben (USA) Buitenpoort Flexpoint 22.58.58
2 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Nurnberger Versicherung 0.01
3 Kristin Armstrong (USA) USA National Team 2.42
4 Lyne Bessette (Can) Canadian National Team 4.03
5 Anita Valen (Nor) Vlaanderen Capri Sonne 4.07
6 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Buitenpoort Flexpoint 4.49
7 Theresa Senff (Ger) Van Bemmelen Aa Drink 5.33
8 Svetlana Boubnenkova (Rus) Mixed P.M.B. Fenixs 6.07
9 Erinne Willock (Can) Canadian National Team 6.21
10 Edwige Pitel (Fra) Mixed Univega Pct/Ar 7.00
51 Felicia Greer (Can) Canadian National Team 50.22
64 Leigh Hobson (Can) Canadian National Team 1.11.22