May 22, 2005 (Russellville, AR) – Mike Jones of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis won the second stage of the Tri Peaks Challenge out of a four-man break that went away barely a quarter of the way through the 100 km course. This was the second consecutive day that Jones was in the decisive break. Yesterday, he helped teammate Greg Henderson win the stage. Today, it was Henderson repaying the favor, along with teammate John Lieswyn.
The attacks started early on, but nothing stuck until the first climb of the day, up the 800-foot Petit Jean. Jones, Henderson and Lieswyn got away on the climb, along with Eddie Hilger of Advantage Benefits/Endeavour and Carlos Vargas of Monex.
The five riders got a gap of nearly a minute over the climb, with the Aerospace Engineering team of Ivan Stevic pursuing. But after 10 miles of chasing without much progress in bringing back the break, the chasers sat up and the gap to the peloton quickly went up to two minutes.
Approaching the second climb of the day at about 65 Km, Stevic tried to repeat his performance at last month’s Sea Otter road race, where he bridged solo across a six-minute gap to the leading group. This time, however, Stevic wouldn’t make it across. Chris Wherry of Health Net Presented by Maxxis marked the move, and after 10 miles, Stevic gave up the chase.
Meanwhile, coming down the backside of the second climb, the three Health Net Presented by Maxxis riders began a series of attacks in an attempt to shed their breakaway companions. They were able to lose Vargas, but Hilger held tough.
From that point on, said Health Net Presented by Maxxis directeur sportif Jeff Corbett, “the four of them basically road a team time trial to the finish.” With the three big Health Net Presented by Maxxis engines working together with Hilger, the chasing peloton was only able to get within 1:40 of break over the final mostly flat 25 Km run in.
With the stage win, Jones takes the leader’s jersey from his teammate Henderson, who finished fourth on the stage and now sits in second overall. Lieswyn took second at the finish and moves up into third overall. Hilger’s third place on the stage was good enough to move him up to fourth overall.
“Jones is in a really good position going into the final stage,” Corbett said. “He has close to three minutes on his strongest rivals.” Those include Stevic, Danny Pate (Jelly Belly/PoolGel) and Karl Menzies (Advantage Benefits/Endeavour).
The difficult 152 Km final stage includes a climb over the tour’s highest point, 2,750-foot Mt. Magazine, and ends with a 6.5 Km climb up to the 1,350-foot Mt. Nebo, which features pitches as steep at 18 percent – a finish which VeloNews calls one of the toughest in America.
Victory Brewing Still Leading
Stage 2 of Tri Peaks consisted of a 63-mile road race with a 4km climb over Petite Jean state Park. For the women it was an uneventful race for the first 20km of racing. Betsy Patrick (Bike Seller) initiated the first attack of the day getting a 1-minute gap over the field. Team Victory Brewing’s Kate Sherwin and Kirsten Robbins rode tempo at the front of the bike race defending teammate Lauren Franges’ lead.
Once the race came back together, at the 30km mark, the field was sent in the wrong direction, causing a bit of temporary chaos. After some quick reorganizing the women where back on course and racing towards the first major climb.
Lynn Gaggioli (Monex) attacked at the base of Petite Jean quickly followed by Kirsten Robbins (Victory Brewing) and Chrissy Ruiter (Ford/Basis). With all the teams represented the group quickly sat up and was reabsorbed by the main bunch.
Coming back towards the finish line, Kirsten Robbins (Victory Brewing) and Kate Sherwin (Victory Brewing) kept a solid tempo at the front of the race bringing the race down to a bunch finish.
Lynn Gaggioli (Monex) won the sprint taking 1st place, followed by race leader Lauren Franges (Victory Brewing). Lauren retains the race lead followed by Lynn 55 seconds back.
Men’s Stage 2 Results
1. Mike Jones, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
2. John Lieswyn, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
3. Eddie Hilger, Advantage Benefits/Endeavour
Men’s GC after 2 stages
1. Mike Jones, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
2. Greg Henderson, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
3. John Lieswyn, Health Net Presented by Maxxis
4. Eddie Hilger, Advantage Benefits/Endeavour
Women’s Stage 2 Results
1. Lynn Gaggioli (Monex)
2. Lauren Franges(Victory Brewing)
Women’s GC after Stage 2
1. Lauren Franges(Victory Brewing)