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HP LaserJet Women's Challenge -- Stage 9
To the Air Force Base
June 16, 2000

And up again.

Again our goal was to keep the sprinter's jersey for Nicole. She started out one-point ahead of Sarah Ulmer. The first sprint came after a climb (again!) so we stuck with our plan to have most of the team stick with her and pace her back to the field if necessary. It wasn't. The climb was wide open with a head wind. The pace wasn't high. With Saturn guarding Anna's 2nd place GC spot, Elita wanting to duke it out at the sprint, the Lithuanians happy with first GC, Longo without a strong team, and everyone tired of the wind and thrilled to have a less stressful day the pace was slow and lesser climbers had enough to stick in.

During the sprint an Italian chick quite low in the sprint points started playing elbow-push with me. She got an elbow back and then Nicole and I just moved on up and never saw her again. Even with our aggressive attitude, Nicole took second with Sarah taking first, putting Nicole two points behind.

There was another climb -- much like the first both in terrain and the speed we took it. There was lots of action. Leigh and Catherine covered attacks with nothing sticking. For the finish the field rode into the Air Force Base and then did five laps around a coned-off short circuit. We got to the base much sooner (in mileage) than scheduled. I was unprepared and too far back. A break got off. Katrina brought it back and then another break got off. All this action strung the field out. There was another sprint coming up with two laps to go so we had to bring the break back. I took a pull and zoomed back to the back. Then Katrina did the same. The break was caught shortly after the sprint keeping Sarah in the jersey since neither she nor Nicole got any points.

The field remained strung out. Dede made a late attack, getting caught pretty quickly because of the strong winds. The sprint ended up being a power struggle with the wind and the shattering field. Nicole (the power rider she is) stuck with it to take 5th. I ended up with my first podium finish at 8th. Ina Tutenberg won for the second time in two days.

 © 2000
 Elizabeth Emery
 John Tomlinson
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