On Saturday, the 4th annual Tour de Leelanau was held in Michigan.
BMC’s Taylor Tolleson came out victorious in the fifth race on the USA Pro Tour Calendar, oustprinting his breakaway companions, with Ben Jacques-Maynes and Teddy King, both of Bissell, rounding off the podium.
As expected, the battle was fought between the three pro teams Bissell, Successful Living and BMC with Bissell feeling the heat as the defending champion with Garrett Pelotonen, and because their title sponsor, Bissell is based in Michigan.
The point-to-point 109-mile (177 km) road race, with 5 KOMs, that runs through much of the Leelanau Peninsula, lived up to its reputation as being tough. Combined with rainy weather, it was a race of attrition as only 48 riders finished.
A 16-man break was formed after about 72 km (45 miles) and included multiple representatives from the top teams, and it was constant attacking to try and dwindle the numbers. With just 20 km to go, five riders escaped from the break, Tolleson along with teammate Darren Lill, Bissell pair Jacques-Maynes and King, and the lone representative from Sucessfull Living, fast man Charles Dionne.
“In the last 20 km, there were a lot of attacks and Darren did a fantastic job; we really helped each other,” Taylor explained in the team report. “I felt confident going into the sprint since it was a longish uphill run into the finish, which is the sort of thing I usually like.”
After breaking his elbow at the Sequoia Classic back in March, Canadian Dionne came back to racing at the Mt Hood Classic last week where he was wearing a brace on the final stage.
“It was a relatively which had a lot of hills, a lot of descents and not many flat parts” said Dionne via a sportcom release. “It was a course that I could have won, but if I consider that two weeks ago, on my first race back in Oregon, I found it pretty hard, I’m really happy of the way I could ride.”
“I must have had 100% improvement between those two races,” added Dionne, who is still focused on making it to the OIympics. “There is a big stretch that is coming up and that is important in the Olympic selection process. I intend to have good results in the coming weeks,” said Dionne who’s next race is the CSC Invitational.
Cheerwine’s Anne Samplonius soloed to victory in the 69.5 mile (113 km) women’s race after breaking away from the field after 12 mile (20 km) mark. The Cheerwine strategy was pretty simple, put pressure on the other teams to chase while their sprinter, Laura Van Gilder could rest in the field.
But the field didn’t get organized, and Canadian Samplonius made it to the finish with plenty of time to spare. Her teammate Leigh Hobson came in second, over two minutes behind, and New Zealander Joanne Kiesanowski (Tibco) finished third.
“For me, (the finish) wasn’t very stressful because I was out front by about two minutes,” Samplonius told the Record-Eagle paper. “I could sit up and relax. I could crawl up that final hill, so it was fun.”
Photos by Gary L Howe, including this beautiful pic of an out of focus Samplonius as she approaches the shadow of the finish line through puffs of pollen.