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Tri Peaks 2005 — Final — Health Net and Victory Reports

May 23, 2005 (Russellville, AR) — Mike Jones of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis took a close third place in the final stage of the Tri Peaks Challenge to wrap up the overall title of the three-day NRC stage race.

Jones finished 20 seconds behind teammate and stage winner Scott Moninger, and 10 seconds behind Serbian revelation Ivan Stevic (Aerospace Engineering) on the punishing final 6.5 km climb up Mt. Nebo.

With Jones entering the final stage holding a comfortable 2:40 lead over his toughest rivals, including Stevic, and with Health Net Presented by Maxxis occupying the top three spots on GC, “There was no need to try to re-shuffle the overall,” Moninger said. Instead, the team was content to ride tempo on the front for most of the stage and control any breaks that tried to get away.

Jones gave credit to his teammates’ effort during today’s stage, which saw Gord Fraser, Mike Sayers, Doug Ollerenshaw, Chris Wherry, Ivan Dominguez and Mike Sayers doing much of the work to protect him, along with Lieswyn, Henderson and Moninger. “Everybody did awesome today,” Jones said. “To have the Canadian national champion (Fraser) up front working for you, and then to come through for him and the rest of the team is a good feeling.

“And Henderson was amazing the first two days,” Jones added. “He drove things in the break in both stages to give us as much time as possible on the field.”

The attacks in the final stage came early and often before the ever-dangerous Karl Menzies (Advantage Benefits/Endeavour) got away solo at about the 16 km mark. At one point, Menzies extended his gap on the field to 2:40, not quite enough to make him the virtual race leader on the road with Health Net Presented by Maxxis controlling things at the front of the peloton.

Menzies’ solo journey lasted until 112 km into the 152 km stage, which included the difficult climb over 2,750-foot Mt. Magazine. With 40 km left, a rider from Aerospace Engineering bridged to Menzies and the two rode together until the base of the final climb.

With Health Net Presented by Maxxis controling the tempo, the peloton reached the base of the final climb pretty much intact, and with its GC riders fresh. But as soon as they hit the climb, Stevic and Danny Pate (Jelly Belly PoolGel) attacked. Moninger marked and then countered, putting Pate in difficulty. At that point, “the field just blew apart,” said Health Net Presented by Maxxis directeur sportif Jeff Corbett.

Stevic attacked again, Moninger marked him, and the two riders opened a slight gap on what was left of the decimated field. “I just wanted to make sure that Stevic didn’t get away,” Moninger said. They quickly caught Menzies, who was blown from his mostly solo effort on the stage.

In the final 200 meters to the line, Moninger came around Stevic to take the stage win by 10 seconds. “The climb is on par with Brasstown Bald at the Tour de Georgia. It’s the type of climb where you just try to ride your own tempo,” he added.

Which is exactly what race leader Jones did. “I felt good going up,” Jones said. “At first I tried to respond when Scott and Stevic attacked, but I didn’t want to get into difficulty. I knew I had a good cushion going in, so I just tried to go my own pace.”

Jones maintained a good tempo up the climb, which features pitches around 20 percent. “At one point Pate dropped me,” he said, “but eventually I rode back up to him.” Near then end Jones was able to ride away from Pate, who finished fourth on the day, 10 seconds behind his former teammate.

John Lieswyn, who came into the stage third overall, finished fifth another five seconds behind Pate, accompanied by Carlos Vargas (Monex), who had been in the decisive break in stage 2 until the descent of the second climb. Lieswyn’s high finish was enough to move him up to second overall, the spot occupied by teammate Greg Henderson coming into the last stage.

Henderson, the former world track champion from New Zealand, showed that he is finding his road form just in time for the Wachovia Week races. He finished the brutal climb well enough to hold onto the final podium spot in GC, just ahead of Moninger, who moved to fourth overall after his stage win.

Jones will join Mike Sayers and Ivan Dominguez for the CapTech Classic in Richmond, Virginia, on May 26. They’ll meet up with the rest of the Wachovia Week team in Arlington, Virginia, on May 29 for the CSC Invitational, which of late has become the unofficial fourth race of Wachovia Week.

Women’s Report
Courtesy of Victory Brewing

The final stage of the Tri Peaks Stage Race kicked off with a 96 mile loop beginning in Centreville and ending at the top of the infamous Mount Nebo. The day began with a 25-mile rolling section with an intermediate hot spot sprint. At this point team Victory Brewing tried to have Lauren Franges attack after the hot spot in hopes to have her off the front of the field. The field would not let Franges get away from the group as riders from Basis and Monex worked hard to keep her in check.

The field rolled up to the first climb of the day, Mount Magazine, a 10km steady climb. Lynn Gaggioli (Monnex) attacked at the bottom with Krissy Ruiter (Basis) and Kate Sherwin (Victory Brewing) matching her. As Gaggioli began to put the pressure on the two riders they slowly began to come off of her wheel. Kirsten Robbins (Victory Brewing) and Amy Vasse, following closely behind, jumped around Sherwin and Ruiter to grab onto Gaggioli’s wheel. The three rode to the top of Mount Magazine and rolled across the top. Shortly there after the three were joined by Sherwin and Ruiter to start the long descent to the bottom. Meanwhile, Franges followed two minutes behind on the descent chasing to catch back up to the break.

When Franges (and her group) regained contact with the break, Victory Brewing quickly assessed the situation. The field would see a 40-mile head/cross wind straight shot to the bottom of the final climb, the mountain top finish of Mount Nebo. Franges went to the front and drove the field into the gutter allowing only enough sheltered space for team mates Robbins and Sherwin. Franges worked hard at the front for approximately 20 miles to not allow any attacks to get off the front before the bottom of the climb.

Team Velo Bella controlled the front of the race with 10 miles to go, before the finishing climb to Mount Nebo. Mount Nebo brought the competitors an extremely tough 5km climb averaging 17% with parts of the climb reaching 23% grades. Again, Gaggioli attacked at the bottom of the climb and Kirsten Robbins followed her wheel and the two rode away from the shattering field. Riding in a small group behind was the Basis team and Kate Sherwin. Half way up the climb Gaggioli attacked Robbins and was able to get away crossing the finish line first, 23 seconds ahead of Robbins in second. Sherwin attacked the Basis team before the end of the climb coming in third place.

The Victory Brewing team finished Kirsten Robbins, Kate Sherwin, and Lauren Franges in second, third, and eighth respectively.

Stage 3 Men
1. Scott Moninger, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
2. Ivan Stevic, Aerospace Engineering
3. Mike Jones, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
4. Danny Pate, Jelly Belly/Pool Gel
5. John Lieswyn, Health Net Presented by Maxxis

Final GC Men
1. Mike Jones, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
2. John Lieswyn, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
3. Greg Henderson, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
4. Scott Moninger, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
5. Ivan Stevic, Aerospace Engineering
6. Danny Pate, Jelly Belly/Pool Gel
7. Justin England, Health Net Presented by Maxxis

Stage 3 Women
1. Lynn Gaggioli (Monex)
2. Kirsten Robbins (Victory Brewing)
3. Kate Sherwin (Victory Brewing)
4. Chrissy Ruiter (Ford Basis)
5. Barbara Howe (Velo Bella)

Final GC Women
1. Lynn Gaggioli (Monex)
2. Kirsten Robbins (Victory Brewing)
3. Kate Sherwin (Victory Brewing)
4. Chrissy Ruiter (Ford Basis)
5. Barbara Howe (Velo Bella)

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