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Posts Tagged ‘toona’

Blue Knob Shuffles Overall Standings

July 8th, 2011

The first road stage of the Tour de ‘Toona included a punishing hilltop finish. As predicted, the ascent on Blue Knob shattered the field and saw riders trickle across the line one by one.

Tara Whitten started the day in the leader’s jersey less than two seconds ahead of teammate Jennifer Wheeler. The two time trialed to the top podium spots during yesterday’s opening prologue, and Team TIBCO was ready to defend yellow.

“We had a plan, and, for the most part, we stuck to it,” said Team Captain Meredith Miller. “With a climb like this at the end of the race, team tactics often can’t play too big of role. It’s becomes a matter of who has the legs and who doesn’t — and how quickly we can each get ourselves to the top.”

“The team rode a great race,” Miller continued. “The course was a lot hillier than I expected. We managed to keep things together until the base of the climb. A few riders launched attacks to get away solo, but they were never out there for too long.”

Miller described a late race attack by Kristen Lasasso (NOW and Novartis for MS) as the only cause for concern.

“Lasasso made a move later in the stage and gained around a minute,” explained Miller. “I wouldn’t say we were worried. We just wanted to make sure that we reeled her in somewhat before the climb. I didn’t want us to full on chase. I also didn’t want us to soft pedal and watch her advantage creep up. We launched our own attacks to keep the field active and the pace high.”

The strategy proved successful as Lasasso was reabsorbed by the field before the climb would split things completely.

Whitten rode to sixth on the stage that Veronique Fortin (PX Express/HNZ Strategic.com), first atop Blue Knob, move into the yellow jersey. Whitten slipped to fourth and now sits 0:38 out of the race lead.

“Tara and Carmen [Small] both did well with the climb today,” noted Miller. “Tara especially did a really great job. Prior to the start, she wasn’t feeling that confident with how she’d go on the climb. I hope today gives her more confidence for Saturday. I know we can get the jersey back.”

While Miller, as usual, was full of praise for her teammates, she was less impressed with her own effort.

“I completely cracked,” she reported. She finished mid-pack  in 34th place. “I had nothing. It felt like my brakes were rubbing.”

The less than stellar result came solely from time lost on the final climb. Prior to Blue Knob, Miller provided direction and leadership on the road. A teammate commented that she was impressed with Miller’s ability to always be in exactly the right place over the rollers that gave way to the mountaintop finish.

“It’s disappointing to not be able to perform the way that I know I’m capable of racing,” said Miller. “It’s bad legs not bad luck. I’ll need to talk to my coach to address what kind of changes I need to make if this continues. I should be able to hang with girls who finished far in front of me on a climb like this.”

Miller will have tomorrow’s rest day to find her climbing legs before racing continues on Saturday with a 91-mile road race that includes a section with an 18% gradient.

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Posted by Jessica

Podium x Two in Pennsylvania

July 6th, 2011

World Track Champion Tara Whitten rode to a decisive victory on the opening prologue of the Tour de ‘Toona. She covered the three mile Altoona Sunset Time Trial in 5:39. Jennifer Wheeler finished less than two seconds back to secure second place. Anne Samplonioius (NOW and Novartis for MS) rounded out the podium.

“Obviously, this is a pretty fantastic result for the team,” said Team Captain Meredith Miller. “We all felt that Tara was very capable of winning the prologue, but to have Wheeler, who rode early on in the stage, in the hot seat for so long and then end up in second is really awesome. It’s a great way to start the Tour.”

Carmen Small made the top ten out of a field of nearly 80 riders. Her ride of 5:49 put her in ninth place. Miller sits 0:14 behind Whitten in 13th.

“I felt good tonight, so my result is a little bit disappointing — especially because I felt like I put in a good effort,” Miller said. “I haven’t been able to nail a time trial yet this season, but it is what it is. Right now, I’m focused on keeping a good head on my shoulder for all the hard racing that lies ahead.”

Tomorrow’s hard racing takes the form of a 74-mile road race with a hilltop finish up to Blue Knob.

“It’s a long, hard climb that is going to blow the race to bits,” predicted Miller. “I expect GC to get shaken up tomorrow.”

With four riders in the top-fifteen, Miller believes the team has multiple cards to play.

“There are a lot of really strong riders here, and we’ll need to see who is on form, but I expect us to be very competitive,” said Miller. “While Tara might not be well-suited for this type of course, Carmen, Carlee and I could fare well.  Our plan to defend yellow includes the possibility that it might be on someone else’s back within the team come tomorrow night.”

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Posted by Jessica