Exergy Tour – Queen’s Stage (Stage 3)
Idaho City – 27 May 2012
Ina Yoko Teutenberg (Team Specialized-lululemon) wins Stage 3 of the Exergy Tour with an exhibition of power and speed in a sprint finish. Leah Kirchmann (Optum Pro Cycling) and Megan Guarnier (Team Tibco – To the Top) finish second and third, respectively. The Italian Fabiana Luperini (Faren Honda Team), who is “very happy to be in the U.S.A.”, wins the Queen of the Mountain Jersey.
The 96Km Queen’s Stage race ran from Crouch to Idaho City with two QOM climbs in between. Before the first QOM, the peloton quickly brought the few attacks back into the pack. Until 54 minutes into the race. Trixi Worrack (Team Specialized-lululemon), Kristin Lasosso (Primal/Map My Ride), Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS), and Tara Whitten (Team Tibco – To the Top) got away followed by first Maaike Polspoel (Topsport Vlaanderen-Ridley 2012) and then Janel Holcomb (Optum Pro Cycling). This group of six stayed out front for 10 minutes.
Shortly after the capture of the first significant break, Holcomb put in another charge and was quickly joined by six others: Luperini, Tiffany Cromwell (GreedEdge-AIS), Kristin McGrath (Exergy Twenty12), Worrack, Lindsey Myers (Team Tibco – To the Top), and Rachel Neylan (ABUS Nutrixxion). Racing up to the top, they managed to hold a gap of around 30 seconds. Sari Saarelainen (Forno D’Asolo Colavito) bridged up but then the pace quickened dropping Neylan and Saarelainen. The remaining six racers would make it all the way to the QOM with Luperini taking the points.
The peloton quickly caught the break on the downhill as NOW and Novartis made some moves after missing the first QOM. As the field closed in on the second QOM it became very animated up front. At just 1Km to go, Beth Newell (NOW and Novartis for MS) put in a charge but was quickly brought back. The sprint for the second QOM came down to Evelyn Stevens (Team Specialized-lululemon) and Claudia Häusler (GreenEdge-AIS) with Stevens taking that crown.
The final downhill saw speeds increase tremendously as the field stretched out into a long line. As they approached Idaho City, rain began to fall for the first time at the finish line. The hard left onto the finishing straight, at the bottom of a downhill, needed some careful negotiation. Newell put in another attack but again was unable to reap any rewards. Sprinting up to the finish line, Teutenberg showed her sprinting credentials to take the win just ahead of Kirchmann.
“It was amazingly loud at the finish for the whole 300m. We don’t have crowds like this very often so it’s unique coming up a finish straightaway like this,” said Teutenberg, “I was on the Optum train and we had a drag race to the finish. It was tight, [Kirchmann] didn’t let go for a long time. I said ‘Man, come on’. Then the last 50m I got the upperhand.”
Going into tomorrow’s final and deciding stage, a quartet of Specialized-lululemon racers top the general classification; Amber Neben leads by 9 seconds over Teutenberg. Stevens is another 2 seconds back whilst Clara Hughes is a further 3 seconds down. Shara Gillow (GreenEdge-AIS) is fifth in the overall with a deficit to first of 26 seconds. Seventy seconds cover the top 10 and 22 racers are within 2 minutes of Neben. With the final outcome still hard to anticipate, other than the team dominance of Specialized-lululemon, the Exergy Tour has met its billing as an exciting stage race.
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