Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tour of The Battenkill Preview

Click to enlarge photos
Defending Pro mens champion Brett Tivers (Garneau/Quebecor Cycling Team)
Photo courtesy of © Barry Koblenz/BaseTwelvePhoto 
Tour of the Battenkill coming April 14—15;
But women’s champ not returning in 2012

by Pasquale Stalteri & John Symon

The 8th annual Tour of the Battenkill, nicknamed "America's Queen of the Classics," takes place on the weekend of April 14—15 around Cambridge, NY.

With many categories from junior to masters over the two days, this event is the beginning of the road racing calendar for many cyclists in the American northeast and in eastern Canada. The pro men’s race this year has received a UCI 1.2 sanction this year, returning to the status it held in 2010, but lost in 2011. The Tour of the Battenkill has also secured a spot on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar (NRC) for 2012. The popular Pro/Am event, including the elite women's race takes place on Saturday, while the professional men's NRC race on Sunday. Some 3,000 riders are expected to race over the two days. Former multiple Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond is expected to take part in the ceremonies.

Sunday’s pro men’s race is a two-lap, 200 kilometre professional event that is expected to draw some 200 riders. The race course at Battenkill involves an “embedded loop” of 80 mile/130km in distance that varies between 100 and 800 feet elevation with five notable climbs at about the eight, 27, 36, 66, and 74 mile marks. This loop also famously features seven ‘dirt’ (gravel) sections that apparently comprise some 25 percent of the course. The start and finish of the Battenkill loop is in Cambridge NY, while cyclists pass through or near the towns of Eagleville, Shushan, East Greenwich, and Greenwich, as well as the Hudson River and the Hoosic River.

While the team invite list (pro men’s race only) is posted below, there is no 2012 start list currently posted at the Tour of the Battenkill website. However MdC has learned that one of the 2011 champions, Canadian Lex Albrecht (Optum Pro Cycling p/b KBS), will NOT be there this year. Albrecht won the women’s 102.4km (64 miles) race in 2011 with a time of 3:15:30 while riding for Team Juvederm-Specialized. Albrecht confirmed to MdC that she will instead be racing at The Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, NC on April 14. “It is the team that decides, not me, that`s why,” Albrecht explained to MdC. “I asked to go to Battenkill, but it's not on our calendar.”

It is unclear if 2011 Battenkill second place finisher, Kacy Wander (CAWES p/b Specialized) or third place finisher, Melissa Ross (Team Kenda P/b GearGrinder) will be there in 2012.

The pro men’s champion in 2011 was Brett Tivers (Garneau/Quebecor Cycling Team), a New Zealand rider based in Quebec City. Last year Tivers rode the 158.4km (99 mile) course in a time of 4:07:37, edging out second place Jesse Anthony (KBS-OptumHealth) by 11 seconds. Third place in 2011 went to Brendan Housler (Mt. Borah Custom Apparel/Minerva Design) who finished 47 seconds back.

Tivers confirmed to MdC that he will be there in 2012 and went on to say that: “Battenkill is all about riding position. The dirt sections mean that if you are riding at the front, it is generally safer and also stops you from getting caught behind any splits in the bunch or held up behind crashes etc. The key is to also relax on the dirt sections. Too many riders last year panicked and were trying to move up on dirt taking bad lines resulting in hitting pot holes, running off the road and puncturing unnecessarily.”

“This year the distance is going to add a lot to the challenge of the race.  With over 200km for such an early part of the season, this could mean that those that have prepared for the season in warmer climate could be easily the ones [who win] due to a greater level of fitness.”

Apart from Tivers, eight other Garneau riders finished in the field of 80 pro men riders in 2011; apparently the team will be back in force for the 2012 edition.

Meanwhile, Gérard Penarroya, the manager of Albrecht’s former team (now called Specialized-Mazda-SGC), told MdC that he is going to Battenkill this year with three cyclists: Alizée Brien, Virginie Gauthier, and Anne-Marie Morin.

April 15, 2012 UCI 1.2, 200km Tour of the Battenkill teams (by team category):

UCI Professional Continental

Team Type 1 - Sanofi (USA)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling (USA)

UCI Continental

Bissell Pro Cycling Team (USA)
BMC - Hincapie Sportswear Development (USA)
Competitive Cyclist Racing Team (USA)
EKOÏ.com - Gaspésien (Can)
Kenda/5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder (USA)
Team IG - Sigma Sport (GBr)
Team Mountain Khakis - SmartStop (USA)
Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
Team Raleigh - GAC (GBr)
Wonderful Pistachios Cycling (USA)

Elite amateur

Astellas Cycling (USA)
Athletix Cycling Team Benefiting Globalbike (USA) Cycling Team (USA)
CashCall Mortgage (USA)
Champion System p/b Stan’s NoTubes/CRCA (USA)
Garneau/Quebecor Cycling Team (Can)
Hagens Berman Elite Cycling (USA)
Jet Fuel Cycling Team (Can)
Juwi Solar Elite Cycling (USA)
Mt. Borah Cycling Team (USA)
OCTTO presented by Cervélo (Can)
Pure Energy Cycling Team (USA)
Ride with Rendall Cycling Team (Can)
Stans NoTubes / AXA Equitable Cycling Team (USA)
Team Medique p/b Silber Investments (Can)
Team Panther p/b Competitive Cyclist (USA)
XO Communications p/b Cisco Systems (USA)



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