One tough hill to climb on very long stage of the Tour de P.E.I.
Georgia Bronzini may have won the race, but Bridie O'Donnell won the day.
O'Donnell, riding for the Australian national cycling team, earned the
yellow leader jersey after the third stage of the Tour de P.E.I. on Tuesday.
The Australian finished with a time of 3:26:15 in the 121-kilometre road
race from Kensington to North Rustico, one second off Bronzini's mark and in
a group of 54 other riders.
But it's a slim overall lead for O'Donnell, whose time of 6:14:45 after
three stages is one second ahead of Canadian Tara Whitten, a member of the
Atlantic Cycling Center team.
"A very challenging day with rolling hills and lots of wind," said
O'Donnell, before being whisked off to a waiting bus. "Today was a very even
Aussie Rochelle Gilmore, who rides for Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam, finished
second while Netherlands-born Martine Bras, a Selle Italia Ghezzi team
member, crossed in third.
Whitten, who led after sweeping the podium (overall leader, top Canadian,
stage winner and top sprinter) in stage two, is now in second place. Fellow
ACC rider Moriah Jo MacGregor is third overall at 6:15:24.
In the team competition, the Aussie national team is first with an 18:45:55
total time followed by the Atlantic Cycling Centre (18:46:25) and Team MTN
O'Donnell said her third stage strategy was simple - a stay in the lead
group, use her teammates as support and tally a strong time in the total
time championship. Whitten's background is pursuit cycling, meaning speed,
but Tuesday's road race required a longer view, said O'Donnell.
"I was never going to outsprint Tara," she said.
Stage four is today, a 120-kilometre road race through Dalvay, Georgetwon
and Montague. Start time is 1 p.m. O'Donnell's recovery strategy is
straightforward, too: eat, massage and "rest as much as possible."
Not so easy was coaxing her into revealing the game plan for today's fourth
"I won't tell you," she said with a laugh. "Nice try."
Bronzini, who rides for Specialized-Mazda-Samson, also won the sprint jersey
while South African native Mariss van der Merwe of Team MTN Energade took
the hills jersey. Bronzini, despite winning two of three stages (she won the
opening race in Summerside), is 55th overall, 3:39.00 behind the leader.