April 27, 2006 (Hot Springs, VA) – Tuesday’s ideal Spring weather surrendered to cool temps and light drizzle on Wednesday as the Tour of Shenandoah headed into the mountains for Stage 3.
The peloton rolled out from the Museum of American Frontier Culture in Staunton, Virginia, at 9:30 a.m. on April 26, and traversed the rolling terrain and scenic rural farmlands of Augusta and Rockbridge Counties, before tackling the first big climb of the race at Warm Springs Mountain in Bath County.
The 101-mile, mostly uphill grind finished amidst the misty splendor of the Allegheny Mountains near the luxurious Homestead resort in post-card-perfect Hot Springs, Virginia. Spectators cheered as the riders sped””wet and tired””across the finish line.
Priority Health’s Eddy Hilger from Michigan won stage 3 in 4:18:17 and earned an additional ten-second bonus.
Hilger’s fine performance earned him the top general classification spot. Hilger replaced teammate Tom Zirbel of Boulder, Colorado. Zirbel relinquished his position as overall leader after holding it for the first two stages.
“We wanted someone who wasn’t a GC [leader] to go ahead today,” said Hilger of his team’s decision to send him ahead on an early break away. “The hills weren’t too bad for the break, when you don’t have to jam it up the climbs and go anaerobic up the hills,” Hilger described the relative ease of pacing in a small bunch rather than fighting it out with the larger peloton in the mountains. Hilger rode most of the race well ahead of his teammates.
“I was in the chase group,” said Fiordifrutta’s Josh Dillon from Stowe, Vermont who placed second in 4:18:33 and scored a six-second time bonus. Dillon, 28, said his chase group caught the breakaway by the first King of the Mountains””a category 3 climb at Brushy Mountain. According to Dillon, his bunch wore down to five riders as the group pushed up the second steep KOM””a relentless category 2 climb on Warm Springs Mountain, about 80 miles into the race.
“I was seeing stars when I came in,” Dillon recounted the exhaustion of summiting at Warm Springs and descending into the Homestead finish area. “I hesitated on Eddy [Hilger],” said Dillon with a tinge of regret. “I wanted to win,” he added.
AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork’s Bruno Langlois of Quebec, Canada finished on the heels of Dillon and Hilger in third place, finishing in 4:18:52 and scoring an additional four second time bonus. “I was in the first break away about 20K into it,” Langlois said, his teeth chattering from the damp cold.
AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork’s manager Radisa Cubric said he still felt his team was the one to beat. After three stages, Cubric’s squad had three riders in the top ten GC. Cubric is a former euro and domestic pro and competed against the best in Europe.
As Hilger replaced Zirbel for the GC leader position, the question arose as to which rider Priority Health has chosen to make a run for the GC. Hilger insists that he and his team are still supporting Zirbel’s bid to win the green jersey awarded to GC leader.
Zirbel, however, doesn’t sound so quite so sure. “I weigh about 40 pounds more than any of my teammates,” said Zirbel””a slight exaggeration for the tall, lanky rider, but certainly an admission that Hilger’s smaller frame might be better suited for the Tour of Shenandoah’s mountainous course. Zirbel indicated that his team will reassess its current strategy to support Zirbel while racing stage 4. Team members said they would probably decide who their leader would be during stage 4’s huge category 1 climb.
Harrisonburg, Virginia resident and local favorite Jeremiah Bishop finished stage 3 in 18th place, less than two minutes behind the winner. Bishop finished the day in 16th GC.
Priority Health’s Brent Bookwalter, 22, staked his claim as leader in the u-23 category with a seventh place overall finish in stage 3. “We heard it was a great stage race, comparable to the Tours of California Tour de Georgia,” Bookwalter said when asked why he and his team chose the Tour of Shenandoah.
Radisa Cubric shared his own favorable observations about the Tour of Shenandoah. “The roads are great, they remind me of Switzerland,” said Cubric who has spent plenty of time riding in that country as a pro. “It’s [Tour of Shenandoah] is just like a course in Europe.” Said Cubric. “I think the stages are better than the Tour de Georgia. I’m glad we’re here.”
After the finish and awards ceremony, several racers, Tour of Shenandoah staff, and hotel staff and guests joined for drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the magnificent Homestead resort.
The Tour of Shenandoah and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation used the Homestead event to raise awareness for diabetes. Tour of Shenandoah racer Jeremiah Bishop of Byvik Financial Services-Trek-VW introduced key not speaker Phil Sutherland. Sutherland is a pro cyclist and type 1 diabetic. Sutherland and his inspirational Team Type 1 will attempt to break the team record in the epic Race Across America cycling race later this summer. The gathering raised over $800 for diabetes.
1. Eddy Hilger (Priority Health Cycling Team) 4:18:17
2. Josh Dillon (Fiordifrutta cycling team) at 0:16
3. Bruno Langlois (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team) 0:35
4. Hugh Moran (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team) 1:03
5. Predrag Prokic (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team)
6. Dan Timmerman (Fiordifrutta cycling team)
7. Brent Bookwalter (Priority Health Cycling Team)
8. Justin Spinelli (Team Nerac/Outdoorlights.com Pro Cycling)
9. Christopher Jones (Champion System) 1:38
10. Nick Waite (LSV/Kelly Benefit Strategies)
27. Zach Bell (Rite Aid Pro Cycling)
31. Ryan Roth (Team R.A.C.E.)
41. Matthew Guse (Team R.A.C.E.) 7:56
44. Moose Miller (Fiordifrutta cycling team)
48. Dan Maggiacomo (ItalPasta)
47. Derek McMaster (ItalPasta)
1. Eddy Hilger (Priority Health Cycling Team) 5:32:07
2. Josh Dillon (Fiordifrutta cycling team) at 0:19
3. Bruno Langlois (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team) 0:34
4. Hugh Moran (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team) 1:07
5. Tom Zirbel (Priority Health Cycling Team) 1:12
6. Dan Timmerman (Fiordifrutta cycling team) 1:26
7. Brent Bookwalter (Priority Health Cycling Team) 1:31
8. Dan Cassidy (CCB / Volkswagen) 1:39
9. Justin Spinelli (Team Nerac/Outdoorlights.com Pro Cycling) 1:40
10. Sam Schultz (Byvik Financial Services presents Trek/VW) 1:42
22. Ryan Roth (Team R.A.C.E.) 3:23
23. Zach Bell (Rite Aid Pro Cycling) 3:30
40. Matthew Guse (Team R.A.C.E.) 8:42
41. Buck Miller (Fiordifrutta cycling team) 9:22
46. Derek McMaster (ItalPasta) 9:47
49. Dan Maggiacomo (ItalPasta) 9:55