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Saturn’s Lyne Bessette further tightened her grip on the overall lead at the HP Women’s Challenge in Idaho as she finished on top in Friday’s 13.3-mile Emmett to Firebird time trial, gaining nearly a full minute on (G),’s Judith Arndt, the woman in second place overall.
Bessette covered the course in 23:13, beating Office Depot’s Jeannie Longo by 24 seconds and AutoTrader.com’s Katrina Berger by 35. Arndt, who started in second-to-last position, two minutes ahead of Bessette finished fourth, covering the course in 24:07.
After a short climb out of Emmett on “Freeze Out Hill,” riders faced a relatively flat course that finished with a 2km effort on the Firebird Speedway, a Boise area drag strip that hosted an alcohol-fueled quarter-mile event just an hour after the time trial finished.
Berger set an early standard, covering the course in 23:48. It wasn’t until Longo came blazing into the speedway that Berger’s mark was threatened. The 42-year-old Longo crossed the line in 23:37, besting Berger’s mark by 11 seconds. But that lead held only until Bessette finished a few minutes later.
The 26-year-old Canadian has put her mark on this race winning both time trial stages and Wednesday’s Twin Falls to Buhl stage. However, after yesterday’s 100-mile ride in 100-degree heat, Bessette said she had her doubts about doing well in the time trial.
“I was just so tired last night,” she said. “Fortunately, I had a really good night’s sleep and felt pretty good this morning.”
Good enough to ask her mechanic to change the inner chainring on her time trial bike from a 39-tooth to a 42. I knew I couldn’t do that hill (Freeze-out) in my big ring, but there was a bit of tailwind going up that hill and I figured I could push a bigger gear than what I had on the small chainring.”
Bessette said that as she rode, she felt better and just concentrated on maintaining a good pace, though she opted not to get regular time checks via radio.
“No I wanted to concentrate,” she said. “It would really just interfere with that.”
Longo described her ride as “good, but not wonderful.” She said she has been recently by sciatica-like symptoms, causing her ride leg to feel “almost dead.” The problem stems from a cracked femur she suffered in an accident several years ago.
“Every once in a while it bothers me, but,” she shrugged, “what can I do?”
Though perhaps disappointed by her own performance, Longo, nonetheless finished second and moved up another spot in the overall standings, jumping ahead of Acca Due O-HP’s Vera Hohlfeld.
Meanwhile, Bessette further widened her lead over second placed Judith Arndt, who slipped back to 4:14 behind the race leader.
1. Lyne Bessette (Can), Saturn, 23:13.323; 2. Jeannie Longo (F), Office Depot, 23:37.008; 3. Katrina Berger (USA), AutoTrader.com, 23:48.231; 4. Trixi Worrack (G), German National, 24:01.861; 5. Judith Arndt (G), German National, 24:07.299; 6. Amber Neben (USA), Earthlink, 24:07.994; 7. Petra Rossner (G), Saturn, 24:15.036; 8. Anna Millward (Aus), Saturn, 24:18.225; 9. Leah Goldstein (Can), 800.com, 24:23.946; 10. Ceris Gilfillan (GB), British National, 24:32.328.
Overall after 11 stages
1. Bessette, 24:19:14; 2. Arndt, at 4:14; 3. Rasa Polikeviciute (Lit), Acca Due O Hewlett – Packard, at 9:12; 4. Rossner, at 11:15; 5. Longo, at 12:04; 6. Vera Hohlfeld (G), Acca Due O Hewlett – Packard, at 13:03; 7. Millward, at 14:16; 8. Chantal Beltman (Nl), Dutch National, at 14:21; 9. Sarah Ulmer (NZ), AutoTrader.com, at 16:14; 10. Ceris Gilfillan (GB), British National, at 17:36.