The Americans were mean on the roads but showed a lovely touch off it, dedicating their NZCT women's cycle Tour of New Zealand win to race director Jorge Sandoval and the people of Chile.
The tour ended on a sombre note as Sandoval turned his thoughts to his parents, brother and extended family in Tome, a village no more than a 10-minute drive from Concepcion, the closest big settlement to the 8.8 magnitude earthquake's epicentre.
Sandoval could not sleep on Saturday night and had not been able to make contact with his parents or his brother. He saw his old town in ruins on CNN yesterday morning and barely said a word during the tour's final stage, a criterium in central Wellington.
"I don't really want to be here, but what can you do?"
Tour champion Shelley Evans, of the United States national team, took the microphone at the presentations and dedicated the win to Chile and Sandoval, the veteran cycling promoter who had run a "wonderful tour".
It came as no surprise that Evans had fun during the past five days. She won four of the six stages – her first stage wins in an UCI event – and finished 16s ahead of team-mate and 2008 world time trial champion Amber Neben in the overall standings. Tiffany Cromwell (Australia, AIS) was third at 35s.
Evans claimed the spoils yesterday with her fourth stage win – cruising home in the Lambton Quay criterium ahead of Kirsty Broun (AIS) and Jo Kiesanowski (New Zealand national team) – but the tour was basically won on Saturday when she claimed the Palmerston North to Masterton stage to overtake Neben.
Evans now turns her attention to the world track championships next month, when she will race in the points and scratch races. After that, she returns to her professional road team, Peanut Butter and Company 2012, a new team run by 2008 Olympics time trial gold medallist and 2008 Tour of New Zealand champion Kristin Armstrong.
Cromwell won the under-23 classification, and Australian Ruth Corset [Nashua] took out the Queen of the Mountains crown and Broun retained the green sprint jersey. The US national team won the teams classification.
The best of the New Zealanders was Linda Villumsen, who finished sixth at 56s, while national team-mate Rushlee Buchanan was 10th at 1min 24s.
- The Marlborough Express
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