KILLINGTON, Vermont (VN) — Sometimes, you perform at your best when you’re not feeling your best. Brett Tivers (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton Rose), a New Zealand School teacher when he isn’t racing his bike professionally in North America, declared that he had been “feeling like crap all week” before the three-day Killington Stage Race over Memorial Day weekend.
Maybe so. But that didn’t keep him from producing a monster performance in the stage 2 time trial, covering the slightly uphill, 11-mile distance in 22:10.
“I knew I had to have a good time trial against Hugo,” he said, referring to last year’s Killington winner, Hugo Houle, a Team SpiderTech rider racing without team affiliation due to UCI rules. Houle was just three seconds back of Tivers in the time trial, setting up a showdown on the hilly, 62-mile stage 3.
Peter Hurst (Bikereg-Cannondale) spoiled the mano-a-mano battle between the two GC leaders by speeding ahead of a six-man lead group, which included Tivers and Houle, with about 600 meters to go to take the stage 3 win atop the Killington Access Road. But Tivers nudged Houle at the line, and the winner’s pink jersey was secured.
Tivers acknowledged that the effort over the last five kilometers to keep Houle in his rear-view mirror was so tough that he simply surrendered his body to the red zone, saying “I didn’t even worry about what my heart rate was doing.” Whatever it was doing, it carried him to the overall victory, another impressive result to go with his Tour of the Battenkill win earlier this spring, in his first season of North American racing.
Women’s race ‘complicated’
The elite women’s race proved to be far more complicated. Sue Schlatter (Stevens Racing p/b the Cyclery), the 2010 Killington winner, put in a characteristically brilliant time trial effort in winning stage 2, and it appeared she was headed for a repeat victory in 2011.
But Schlatter was unable to stay with the break on the final climb on stage 3, as Denise Ramsden (Juvederm-Specialized) and and Veronique Fortin (PK Express- HNZ Strategic.com) rode off to the finish together. Ramsden edged Fortin at the line, with both riders well ahead of third-place finisher Kristin Gohr (Stage 5 cycling), and Ramsden had apparently won the winner’s pink jersey.
Then things got messy. After the race, officials huddled and determined that Juverderm-Specialized riders had been guilty of “repeated, flagrant, and dangerous attacks over the centerline.” Most of the team’s riders, including Ramsden, were disqualified, and despite tearful declarations of innocence during the post-race protest, Ramsden and teammates were not reinstated.
That landed the stage victory and overall win in Fortin’s lap — unexpected, perhaps, although certainly well deserved. She had been the most aggressive rider on the break, attacking hard on the brutal climb of East Mountain Road about seven kilometers from the finish.