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Nature Valley G.P. Hackettstown, NJ

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Nature Valley G.P. Hackettstown, NJ

Old 06-12-05, 09:01 PM
Double Naught Spy
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June 12, 2005

- Hackettstown, NJ -

Nature Valley G.P. - Stage 5 Finale (NRC 2.2): The ride ends

The 2005 Nature Valley Grand Prix came to a close today following the final
stage-5 Criterium in downtown Stillwater, Minnesota. The terms "Criterium"
and "downtown" are sort of a misnomer as the timed event (1 hour) is
actually a 1.5-mile circuit that is either rising or falling, through the
neighborhoods overlooking the waterfront shopping district. Depending on
the source of information, the main climb is either 18% or 22%, but the
first reaction from the racers is always the same: we have to go up that?

Known to be a decisive stage, this year's edition proved to live up to
expectations. The weeklong dog-fight between Navigators Insurance's rookie
Shawn Milne and the veteran from Health Net; John Lieswyn, came to a
heart-pounding conclusion in front of the massive crowds that had gathered
on the steep pitches.

As expected, this course was more a test of individual strength than
tactics, and the Navigators squad did their best to preserve Shawn's
27-second lead. For most of the race, the men-in blue controlled the
front of the peloton neutralizing the attacks coming on all parts of the
course. With about 30-minutes of racing remaining, a mechanical problem
forced Milne to change bikes with teammate Ciaran power. A few minutes
later, while descending the steep drop back into the starting area, he
punctured a rear tire requiring another bike change. This time, he
received a bike from the neutral support pit and was able to resume his
position back in the rapidly dwindling peloton.

With no teammates left to help him defend his lead, and the front group
made up of the strongest challengers, Milne found himself isolated with
about 6 laps remaining in the race. The constant attacks and the difficult
course began to take its toll. With a front group containing Lieswyn,
Danny Pate (Jelly Belly), Jonathan Page (Colavita) and several others,
Shawn knew that it was do-or-die time. Chasing relentlessly to minimize
his deficit, continued to forge ahead. Digging as deep as he could, the
young rider couldn't match the speed of the group in front, and began to
slip back. By the end of the stage, he found himself crossing the line
2:12 in arrears of the stage winner Richard England
(Advantage/Endeavour). The time gap was sufficient to drop him from the
lead in the General Classification. A hard lesson for the first-year pro,
but with one of two stage-wins for the team, two days in the Yellow
Jersey, and a 3rd place finish in stage-2 under his belt, it was a fairly
productive week.

Stage - 5:
1) Richard England (Advantage Benefits/Endeavour Cycling Team)
2) Ben Raby (Bianchi/Grand Performance)
3) Jonathon Page (Colavita Olive Oil - Sutter)

Overall GC:
1) John Lieswyn (Health Net)
2) Aaron Olson (Colavita Olive Oil - Sutter)
3) Brian Jensen (HRRC / Saddlewood Bikesource Specialized)

Edit: Whoops Minnesota / not New Jersey
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Old 06-12-05, 09:50 PM
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Yes, it was in MN, not NJ.

I was at todays race in Stillwater. It's called the toughest crit in North America. That climb was at least 22%. It was simply stunning. It was more amazing how fast some of these guys rode up it.

Great weather and a great race.
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