Zirbel, Fortin win weather-shortened Green Mountain Stage Race
The Green Mountain Stage Race beat the rain. Mostly.
Race promoters decided to soldier-on with the event in the aftermath of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, which devastated the state only one week ago.
The four-day race saw its two road race courses made impassable by washed-out roads, and race promoters scrambled to map-out new routes. Ironically, it was the final stage, a criterium through downtown Burlington where roads were not harmed by the hurricane, that had to be canceled — due to heavy rain from another tropical system.
Donations were collected throughout the event for flood victims, with the prize list from the Monday’s uncontested races, as well as other race proceeds, also being donated.
Stage 1 The 5.7 mile Warren Store Individual Time Trial saw New Zealander Brett Tivers (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton Rose) take the win by 6 seconds over Tom Zirbel (Jamis/Sutter Home). Tivers, the winner of the this year’s Quebec-Montreal Classic, is a Kiwi based out of Canada for the racing season. Another 10 seconds back was local favorite Anders Newbury (Chipotle Development Team) of Fairfield, Vermont, the winner of last year’s junior GMSR.
In the elite women’s race, Canadian national road race champion Véronique Fortin (Rocky Mountain-Desjardins Valeurs Mobilieres) took a convincing 21-second win over fellow Canadian and past Olympian Susan Palmer-Komar (Pk Express/HNZ Strategic.com)
Stage 2 The Bridges Resort circuit race stage was moved to the west side of the Green Mountains, starting in Hinesburg and looping through Huntington and Starksboro over lightly rolling hills.
In the men’s event, after numerous breakaway attempts, including a group of seven riders that gained one minute over the first lap, the pack all came back together over the final king-of-the-mountain sprint in Huntington. Then in a sly move, Tim Mitchell (CCB Racing), the silver medalist at this year’s elite national championship, rolled away on the descent of Baby Gap. Mitchell, who’s only in his fourth year of racing after a career in alpine skiing, wasn’t on the radar screen of the major teams in the pack, and held on for the win by a slim 21 seconds.
Meanwhile, the elite women’s race came down to a pack sprint, with Fabienne Gerard (CRCA/Fuoriclasse Racing-Discover Chiropractic) edging Lindsey Bayer (XO COMMUNICATION/BATTLEY-HARLEY DAVIDSON) , with Vermont native Emma Bast (Speedfix p/b Zubaz) in third.
Stage 3 The third stage was entirely rerouted from previous editions of the GMSR, but still featured the finish up the fearsomely steep slopes of Appalachian Gap.
Midway through the men’s race, a stairstep climb on the roads of Richmond created a split that would stick, with a group of 13 rolling away from the pack. In it were all the major players, including Zirbel, his teammate Jamie Driscoll (also a local favorite), Newbury, and others.
“We rode a steady pace up Baby Gap (the first section of Appalachian Gap),” said Newbury. “And then Zirbel rolled away on the short descent before the steep part started. No one thought he could climb that well and stay away.”
But the big man (Zirbel is 6-foot-6) did, taking the win by 38 seconds over Driscoll. The women’s race saw an odd turn of events, with Anna McLoon (Missing Link Coaching/Specialized) winning by 5:53 over Fortin. Due to travel issues, McLoon had been unable to make the start of the stage 1 time trial, and was scored at over 6 hours behind, and completely out of contention for the overall race.
In the women’s race, the time gaps were huge on the mountain top finish, with stage winner Anna Mcloon (Missing Link Coaching/Specialized) coming in almost six minutes ahead of second-placed Fortin, who was a half minute ahead of third placed Susan Palmer-Komar. Fortin held on to her leader’s jersey, however, as Mcloon was seven hours behind because she could not make it to the time trial start. Officials allowed her to ride the TT later, but her clock had been running the entire time.
The Dealer.com criterium got off to a drizzly start, with the first five amateur races of the day completing their events on the downtown Burlington circuit.
Shortly after noon, heavy rain began falling, with torrents of water rushing down the city streets, and the National Weather Service reporting rain fall rates of one inch per hour at the airport.
While bike races are normally completed rain or shine, race referees and event promoters decided to cancel the remaining races.
Wearing her race leader’s jersey and ready for action, Fortin commented, “With these conditions, it’s not safe to race, so I think this is the right decision.”
1. Tom Zirbel, Jamis/sutter Home, in 5:15:40
2. Anders Newbury, Chipotle Development Team, at 0:00:54
3. Jamey Driscoll, Jamis/sutter Home, at 0:01:01
4. Derrick St John, Ride With Rendall, at 0:01:14
5. Josh Dillon, Bikereg.com / Cannondale, at 0:01:17
1. Véronique Fortin, Rocky Moutain-Desjardins Valeurs Mobilieres, in 6:42:00
2. Susan Palmer-Komar, P-K Express/hnz Strategic.com, at 0:00:46
3. Kacy Wander,, at 0:01:30
4. Rachel Warner, Missing Link Coaching/specialized, at 0:02:00
5. Fabienne Gerard, Crca/fuoriclasse Racing-Discover Chiropractic, at 0:02:11