Clara Hughes, riding for the composite Pactimo team, smoked the Tour of the Gila timetrial, stopped the clock at 39:33. In her first long time-trial since returning to racing, Hughes was the only woman to go under the 40-minute mark on the 16.15 miles (26km) out-and-back course with 1000 feet (305 m) of climbing.
Hughes is the most decorated Olympian in Canada with six medals (tied with Cindy Klassen), with four in speed skating and two in cycling. She had a big grin on her face while she waited for the podium ceremony; Hughes is definitely a fierce competitor she is also having fun on her un-retirement with a goal of the 2012 Olympic Games.
In second place is Rhae Shaw (CycleU), the Canadian triathlete who is now focusing solely on cycling with a time of 41:23. After dropping her chain on the first climb, Janel Holcomb (Colavita Forno d’Asolo) caught her two-minute women and finished third with 41:58.
Leader into the stage Mara Abbott (Diadora Pasta Zara) finished 2:27 down leading to a major GC shuffle. Hughes takes over the red jersey with 1:43 on Abbott and 2:58 on Shaw who moved up to 3rd on GC. Holcomb jumped to 4th. Even though Hughes repeats time and time again that she only has a small composite team with her, which is true, she showed a great engine on the first stage when she was able to surge up and finish 3rd, 50 seconds down from Abbott. Can she keep up with the tiny climber on the Gila Monster? We’ll know Sunday but first the crit on Saturday, something that Hughes loves to race.
Denise Ramsden (Juvederm-Specialized) takes over the white jersey in the U26 competition.No changes to the other jerseys with no points awarded today, Abbott remains QOM leader and Heather Logan-Sprenger (Colavita Forno d’Asolo) stays in green.
Clara Hughes (Pactimo Cycling Team). “It’s kind of a weird time trial, the parts where I really wanted to go hard I was spun out, it was a little frustrating because I wanted to go a little bit faster on the downhills, but I couldn’t pedal faster. It felt great. That was the longest I’ve ridden in my time trial position, the last 10 minutes I was getting little cramps. It’s a good first time trial. And it was fun, it was the first time I’ve raced on my new time trial bike as well, I’m getting it really dialed in with my position and I’m really happy with that. It felt comfortable, it’s a sweet bike and I feel that my legs are slowly getting to a place of earning the bike. I’m not quite worthy of it yet but I’m getting there.”
Confident about defending the GC? “I have no idea, honestly I’m not really concerned about it. It would be fantastic. To be honest, a big motivation to keep it is, we’re staying at the house of the lady who does the pottery for the prizes and she does amazing work so I would love one of those bowls, but it’s not really good to focus on something material. We’re going to take it day by day. Tomorrow is the criterium, I want to play it safe and have fun, I love criteriums, I love doing them. Sunday is going to be hard and I expect a huge battle out there and it’s going to be fun. I’ll give it everything I have, Flavia is riding really well as well. We’re a little composite team here and we’ll do the best we can, I just want to feel good about every day as each day. ”
Add confidence for Pan Am Games TT? “It does, similar altitude and now I know that I won’t turn into a pumpkin after a long time trial at least. It’s part of my whole preparation process where I’m at and where I need to be, I have a lot of work to do, there are a lot of things that I can improve on so it’s kind of cool to have one under my belt to know what I need to do to get better, I’m really motivated by that.
Pick one area to improve. “Focus. I’m used to seven minutes of focus in skating, I have to extend that to 40 minutes now so it will take time.”
Rhae Shaw (CycleU). “It’s difficult to get into a rhythm that’s for sure. It’s much more of a hill climber’s type of time trial and I’m much more a power rider, flatter so you can really get into the groove. This one I found more difficult, my follow car will tell you, my bike had its own ideas about which way to go. ”
About being a marked woman now. “It’s very flattering, I’d rather be in that position than not being noticed. It’s going to make it a bit more difficult than not having been noticed but that’s okay. ”
Janel Holcomb (Colavita Forno d’Asolo). “I’m really happy. I know it’s not first place but I’m still very happy. I think that when you have a team like this and our staff that give you the support you need and keep you happy, and you have the equipment you need. Seriously I was rolling out with Andrea earlier and ‘isn’t it amazing when you sit on a bike and it goes fast?’ (laughs) I’m really happy and the fact that this is day 3 of a stage race and all week long, the team has worked so well together and when you can go into a time trial knowing that your teammates have killed themselves so that you can rest, it’s like they’re behind you pushing you. Even though the time trial is an individual thing, it’s not, it’s about the team, it’s about the staff.”
Did you know you were having a good ride? “On the first climb, I was just going like I felt I could go and I could see the car of my one-minute person in front of me. So I just went steady and over the top of that first climb, I don’t know I managed to mess up my shifting and I dropped my chain. But it was at the top so I just got it back in and then I was pissed at myself, so I just took off and then all of a sudden, the one-minute person, they were there. And I was like ‘boom I’m going to go catch that person’, and as soon as I caught her at the turnaround, I then caught the two-minute person right after that, I was just going. Catching two people that feels good but I still, on my computer, just had the distance because I didn’t want to know time so I said ‘okay, got to keep going’.”
Top 10 Stage 3 Results
1. Clara Hughes (Pactimo Cycling Team) 39:33
2. Rhae Shaw (CycleU) 0:01:50
3. Janel Holcomb (Colavita Forno d’Asolo) 0:02:25
4. Mara Abbott (Diadora-Pasta Zara Team) 0:02:27
5. Alison Starnes (Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12) 0:02:32
6. Kristin McGath (Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12) 0:02:52
7. Jessica Phillips (Team Ajax tavern) 0:03:09
8. Nicole Evans (Primal/MapMyRide) 0:03:26
9. Meredith Miller (Team TIBCO/To the Top) 0:03:27
10. Emily Kachorek (Primal/MapMyRide) 0:03:29
Top 10 GC Results After Stage 3
1. Clara Hughes (Pactimo Cycling Team) 8:40:51
2. Mara Abbott (Diadora-Pasta Zara Team) 0:01:43
3. Rhae Shaw (CycleU) 0:02:58
4. Janel Holcomb (Colavita Forno d’Asolo) 0:03:15
5. Alison Starnes (Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12) 0:04:07
6. Nicole Evans (Primal/MapMyRide) 0:04:14
7. Andrea Dvorak (Colavita Forno d’Asolo) 0:04:44
8. Meredith Miller (Team TIBCO/To the Top) 0:05:10
9. Flavia Oliveira Parks (Pactimo Cycling Team) 0:05:20
10. Kristin McGath (Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12) 0:05:29