After a raining morning for the opening St Paul Riverfront Time Trial, the sun came out and everyone was hoping for a dry stage 2 at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. But once again mother nature decided to make hard racing even harder when a storm hit before the start of the Downtown St Paul Criterium. The women were pre-riding the a flat, fast, five-corner course in the pouring rain, taking the brick sections – including corners – very gingerly. A quick adjustment of tire pressure and they were off. Luckily the rain stopped early on in the 28-lap race but not before crashes took down riders, on those brick sections.
The field was still together, strung out with teams fighting for control at the front for the first of two intermediate time sprint bonus. Chloe Hosking (HTC-Highroad) took the top 5 seconds followed by Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12), and Amanda Miller (HTC-Highroad).
Two laps later a move was initiated by US National Crit Champion Shelley Olds (Diadora-Pasta Zara) and Canadian Crit Champion Leah Kirchmann (Colavita-Forno d’Asolo). They were soon joined by three chasers and the break was formed. Off the front were Tamayo, Miller and Joelle Numainville (TIBCO/To The Top) at 19 laps to go. Robin Farina (NOW-Novartis) tried to bridge up but never connected and was re-absorbed by the field.
Yellow jersey Armstrong put her team at the front to control and gap and the break in, too dangerous for her taste. But the four strong riders kept pushing at the front while Tamayo sat in and monitored, and the gap stayed above the 10-sec mark for the next 9 laps. During this period, Kirchmann, Miller and Tamayo took the second intermediate time bonus sprint.
Amstrong came to the front and the gap started to come down until the field was all together with 10 laps to go. It was time to start organizing for the bunch sprint. First, HTC-Highroad took over the front, then Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 and finally TIBCO/To The Top lined up their train.
In the final bunch sprint, World Champion Giorgia Bronzini (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo) wearing the rainbow stripes won stage 2. Bronzini had stayed at the front, close to Armstrong the whole race and then with her teammate and fellow sprinter Theresa Cliff-Ryan in the final 10 laps.
Olds was second and Hosking third. Armstrong finished safely in the bunch and remains the GC leader after two stages.
Other jersey wearers include Olds in the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider jersey, Kirchmann in the Wheaties FUEL Sprinter jersey, and her teammate, Rushlee Buchanan, in the Tria Orthopaedic Best Young Rider jersey. Though Armstrong leads the Sports Beans Queen of the Hills jersey competition, Evelyn Stevens (HTC-Highroad) will wear the jersey for Cannon Falls.
Racing continues with the 107 km (66.5 mi) Cannon Falls Road Race. The course winds through scenic Goodhue County before finishing on a 3.1km (1.9 mile) circuit in downtown Cannon Falls. A gravel road section on the way into town adds another wild card to this stage. If the winds are calm in 2011, look for a pack sprint. If it’s windy, all bets are off. The women start at 5:30pm.
Giorgia Bronzini (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo). “I was in front of the first position, behind my teammate,” Bronzini said. “I was in third position at the corner, and gave my best sprint today.
Shelley Olds (Diadora-Pasta Zara). “There was a pretty solid lead out from TIBCO, so I made my way up to their train and just tried to hold position in the last lap. In the last turn, Theresa Clif-Ryan jumped, and I jumped to cover it. But Bronzini was on my wheel and she came around me. It’s difficult when you have two really fast sprinters from the same team.”
Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12). “There was a break that got off that we weren’t excited about.“With the conditions, it was single-file all night long. It was really difficult for our team to get together and chase down another team. That was frustrating. There was a point when I came up to help my teammates to finish and close the gap. After that, we just made sure there wasn’t another attack that went off and stayed off. The energy we expended to close that break was not something we wanted to do twice. People are out to race against us. We have three of the top five, and it makes for hard racing.”
“Tonight was one of the hardest crits I’ve done in years. People were on fire. I know that there’s been past years that have been tough, but I think the depth of this field is the best I’ve seen at Nature Valley.”
Note: the women’s podium was held (unexpectedly) during the men’s race and we were not able to get photos unfortunately.
Top 10 Stage 2 Results (Complete Results)
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo p/b Cooking Light) .59’04″
2. Shelley Olds (Diadora Pasta Zara) st
3. *Chloe Hoskins (HTC-High Road)
4. *Joelle Numainville (Team TIBCO/To The Top)
5. Christina Gokey-Smith (NOW And Novartis)
6. *Emily Collins (Vanderkitten-Focus)
7. Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12)
8. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo p/b Cooking Light)
9. *Samantha Schneider (Team TIBCO/To The Top)
10. *Amanda Miller (HTC-High Road)
Top 10 GC After Stage 2
1. Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) 1.13’34″
2. Evelyn Stevens (HTC-High Road) 23″
3. Alison Starnes (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) 27″
4. Amber Neben (HTC-High Road) 29″
5. Kristin Mcgrath (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) 33″
6. Anne Samplonius (NOW And Novartis) 35″
7. Janel Holcomb (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo p/b Cooking Light) 41″
8. Amber Pierce (Diadora Pasta Zara) 45″
9. *Rushlee Buchanan (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo p/b Cooking Light) 47″
10. Erinne Willock (Team TIBCO/To The Top) 48″