By Nic Lamond in George
Normalcy returned in the ladies' race after a troubled prologue Friday for Team Rocky Mountain's Alison Sydor and Pia Sundstedt. The pair lost two minutes in the fast-paced race after a flat that forced them to cede the coveted leaders' jerseys to Team Trek/VW's Susan Haywood and Jennifer Smith. But after five hours and 44 minutes in the saddle Saturday, the two were atop the podium and pulling the leaders' jerseys over their heads at the awards ceremony. They will go into stage two will a full 12 minutes clear of second-placed Team Dolphin Trek's Fabienne Heinzman and Katrin Schwing. Trek / VW is sitting 19 minutes back in third.
But their ride wasn't without its drama. Sundstedt had a tough ride and struggled with a recurring knee injury. The Finn claimed it was the worst day she'd ever had on a bike, but her eternally positive team-mate, Sydor, saw it differently. The perennial mountain bike champion chalked the day's racing down to experience: "We had our technical crisis yesterday, and our physical crisis today. But it just showed us that we can cope with it!"
In Sunday's stage three, riders can expect the toughest day ever designed in the race's short five-year history. 132km, with over 2,500m of climbing greet racers, but it's the two monster climbs en route that will hurt most. Those at the back of the field will likely struggle just to avoid the 11-hour time cutoff.