April 30, 2006 (Natural Bridge, Virginia) — Although the race is not exclusively U-23, The Tour of Shenandoah has emerged as the premier stage road race for showcasing the pick of North America’s young cycling talent. Thus it seems fitting that the best U-23 rider at the 2006 Tour of Shenandoah climbed to the top of the general classification after today’s stage 6 time trial.
Priority Health’s U-23 rider Brent Bookwalter won the 15-mile time trial in 29:55, more than a minute faster than the next fastest rider. “The course was blazing fast, nothing too technical,” Bookwalter said about today’s out-and-back route in rural Rockbridge County. “You had to find a rhythm and a good gear, and you couldn’t rest on the downhills,” said Bookwalter. “Even at this distance [15 miles] you have to give it all and it hurts,” Bookwalter grinned as he peddled his stationary trainer during a post-race cool down.
Bookwalter’s swift time trial placed him in 1st GC in 14:51:19. In addition to the green GC leader jersey, young Bookwalter earned the yellow U-23 leader jersey.
Prior to the race, it appeared that Priority Health might have made a tactical error by choosing not to defend then-GC leader Eddy Hilger during yesterday’s stage 5. “We had some miscommunication yesterday in the car,” admitted Hilger. “We let the break get too far ahead,” Hilger said. Hilger finished 4th stage 6 in 31:28.
With the support of their team, Bookwalter and Hilger have led a successful two-jersey campaign, thus far. However, Priority Health wondered how much stronger they would have been had they not lost their big man, Tom Zirbel.
“Tom would have crushed us today,” Bookwalter said about Zirbel, a tall and powerful time trialist whose training had targeted the Tour of Shenandoah. Zirbel spent the race’s first two days in the green leader jersey.
Unfortunately, Zirbel’s race ended after he suffered a minor concussion during a high-speed crash in Thursday’s stage 4. “We wanted to do it for him,” Bookwalter explained how the team has drawn inspiration from their bruised teammate.
Justin Spinelli finished 2nd today in 31:02. Spinelli ended the day in 2nd GC in 14:52:39, a significant 1 minute 20 seconds behind Bookwalter.
Ryan Roth of Team R.A.C.E. proved his time trial expertise. The Canadian rider finished 2nd in last Tuesday’s stage 1 time trial. Roth found the podium again after stage 6, placing 3rd in 31:04″”a mere two seconds behind Spinelli.
Roth finished the day 14th GC in 14:58:54. Roth said he was pleased with how he has raced so far at this year’s Tour of Shenandoah. The race’s tough mountains stick out in his memory.
“We are staying at the Blue Ridge Mountain cabins, and driving up there reminds me of Montebello,” Roth cringed as he recalled stage 4’s tough Cat. 1 climb. Roth said his legs felt fresh enough to help his teammates in Sunday’s criterium.
Bruno Langlois held the GC lead prior to stage 6, but he AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork rider finished today’s time trial 11th. Langlois crossed the finish line in 32:17, 2 minutes and 22 seconds behind Bookwalter. Langlois dropped to 4th GC, 1 minute 37 seconds behind Bookwalter.
Priority Health looks forward Sunday’s stage 7 criterium in Waynesboro. If history is any indicator, the team is well positioned to defend Bookwalter’s GC and U-23 jerseys. At the 2005 Tour of Shenandoah, Hilger won the Waynesboro criterium and Bookwalter placed second. “It’s my favorite crit,” said Hilger. “Our guys did some recovery riding today, so we think I think we’ll do well,” he added.
The Tour of Shenandoah started last Tuesday with 30 riders in the Under-23 class, a third of the total competitor field.
After stage 6, three U-23 riders had cracked the GC’s top ten. GC leader, Brent Bookwalter, of course, leads the U-23 pack. Second-place U-23 rider Sam Schultz of Byvik Financial Services-Trek/VW ended the day 7th GC in 14:54:09. 19-year-old James Camut of Watchung Wheelmen/High Gear Cyclery placed 20th stage 7, and 8th GC in 14:54:54.
Stage 6 Results
1. Brent Bookwalter (Priority Health Cycling Team) 29:55
2. Justin Spinelli (Team Nerac/Outdoorlights.com Pro Cycling) at 1:07
3. Matthew Guse (Team R.A.C.E.) 1:09
4. Dan Timmerman (Fiordifrutta cycling team) 1:23
5. Eddy Hilger (Priority Health Cycling Team) 1:33
6. Josh Dillon (Fiordifrutta Cycling Team) 1:34
7 Ben King (Hot Tubes Development Team – TRI DIM) 1:39
8. Predrag Prokic (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team) 1:59
9. Sonke Thiel (Team Ideal Tile/Wendy’s /Liquid Lightning) 2:10
10. Russell Langley (Rite Aid Pro Cycling) 2:14
11. Bruno Langlois (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team) 2:22
26. Derek McMaster (ItalPasta) 3:33
30. Zach Bell (Rite Aid Pro Cycling) 3:47
48. Buck Miller (Fiordifrutta cycling team) 5:55
52. Ryan Roth (Team R.A.C.E.) 6:14
56. Dan Maggiacomo (ItalPasta) 6:31
1. Brent Bookwalter (Priority Health Cycling Team) 14:51:19
2. Justin Spinelli (Team Nerac/Outdoorlights.com Pro Cycling) at 1:20
3. Dan Timmerman (Fiordifrutta cycling team) 1:22
4. Bruno Langlois (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team) 1:37
5. Eddy Hilger (Priority Health Cycling Team) 1:46
6. Josh Dillon (Fiordifrutta Cycling Team) 2:02
7 Sam Schultz (Byvic Financial Services/Trek/VW) 2:50
8. Nate Buyon (Watchung Wheelmen/High Gear Cyclery) 3:35
9. Matt Cooke (LSV/Kelly Benefit Strategies) 4:24
10. Ian Ayers (Byvic Financial/Trek/VW/) 4:31
14. Matthew Guse (Team R.A.C.E.) 7:35
21. Derek McMaster (ItalPasta) 9:59
23. Zach Bell (Rite Aid Pro Cycling) 11:14
38. Buck Miller (Fiordifrutta cycling team) 34:20
39. Dan Maggiacomo (ItalPasta) 35:39
40. Ryan Roth (Team R.A.C.E.) 35:42