Tour de L’Aude: Saturn Women In Charge
Day 5 – Saturn’s Jutras redeems herself – solo effort garners impressive win in morning. Afternoon stage sees Saturn double up – Teutenberg blasts in for win in the wind. Valen still in Yellow – Bessette closes the gap.
The fifth day of the 19th Tour de L’Aude featured two half stages. The first stage was seemingly benign with only one climb, however, with only 45 kilometers to race, the competitors held nothing back and the racing was aggressive from the gun. Although the weather was predicting chances of rain, the skies were partly cloudy and the wind brisk. By the end of the two stages, the Saturn team celebrated double wins for the day and slightly closed the gap to Valen’s Yellow Fleece.
After struggling on the technical roads in the rain yesterday, Saturn’s Manon Jutras sought redemption today by soloing in for a very impressive win of over one minute in strong winds. Race Leader Anita Valen was in the chase group, and maintained her lead over Lyne Bessette.
As the pack headed out through the waves of grass, the trees bent over in the wind as if to greet the women as they raced past. The field arrived at the first sprint at the 12 kilometer to go sign in tact; however, many were hanging on by a bare thread. As the route turned left into the three quarter cross wind, the thread began to break. Sensing an opportune time, Saturn’s Ina Teutenberg captained the team at the front, and when the time was ripe, indicated to Manon Jutras to attack.
Hitting the climb with a 45 second gap, Jutras steadily put time into the chase group forming behind her. Down the descent and turning into the headwind, the Saturn rider dug deep and opened her lead to 1:30. Within the ten kilometer marker, after twenty kilometers by herself, she still managed to hold off the group while powering into the wind.
With every second precious, she crossed the finish line, barely able to celebrate properly. Olga Slioussareva lead the group home for second over third placed Bessette. Bessette’s third place was worth two seconds, narrowing the gap between her and the Yellow Jersey.
After a brief respite and plenty of lunch, the women headed out for the second event of the day – a 49 kilometer jaunt through the wind swept valley of Saint Laurent de la Cabrerisse. Although there were no categorized climbs, the profile clearly indicated as many meters of climbing as the morning’s stage. After a brief section of tail wind, the riders turned into a brutal cross wind which almost immediately brought the weak and tired to the back in gusts.
Looking up the road, it was Saturn’s Jutras stringing the field as she forced her way into the strong headwind. For her efforts the main group shattered, forming a front group of 18. As the road brought the riders into the strong headwinds, Jutras continued to pound out the kilometers, opening the gap to the 1:30 mark. Missing were some key GC riders including Sarah Carrigan and the Polikeviciute twins. Saturn however had four in the front group with Katie Mactier, Bessette, Jutras, and Teutenberg.
In the final ten kilometers Nernberger’s Judith Arndt tried to escape the bunch, but the Saturn team reeled her back in. As the group roared into the finish, it was Teutenberg jumping hard and coming around Olga Slouservia for an exciting win. Third was Valen, over Bessette in fourth.
Heading into tomorrow’s time trial the top spots remain the same. After tomorrow’s 30 kilometer test of truth, there should be some new faces topping the leader’s board.
1. Manon Jutras – Saturn
2. Olga Slioussareva
3. Lyne Bessette – Saturn
1. Ina Teutenberg – Saturn
2. Olga Slioussareva
3. Anita Valen – Power Plate Bic
4. Lyne Bessette – Saturn
– Reported by Team Saturn –