After three stages of trying to hammer each other into submission during the Tour of Juneau cycling race, the riders in Saturday's final Lena Beach Road Race stage decided to take things easy on one another.
The main pack stayed together nearly the entire race, making the 34.5-mile fourth stage seem like a casual group ride than a serious blood-and-guts race. Eleven of the 18 riders Saturday were still in the main pack for the final sprint to the finish line, with overall Tour of Juneau winner Dan Graves claiming the stage victory with a time of 1 hour, 32 minutes, 12 seconds.
Steve Williams of Haines took second place in the sprint, followed by Chris Scholes of Juneau, Dan Harrington of Haines and overall women's winner Julie Graves in fifth place. The lead 11 riders were all given the same time of 1:32:12.
``There were some jumps early on, but then it slowed down and everybody geared up for the sprints,'' Dan Graves said, referring to the three mid-race sprints that earned the stage leaders bonus points in the overall standings. ``The sprints were where the points were. Steve had a great breakaway early, and Dan (Kelliher) did a lot of work off the front, but for the most part we all stayed together and it was like a group ride. It was a heck of a fast weekend.''
``I think everyone was feeling all four stages today,'' Julie Graves said.
Williams and Harrington -- who won two of the Tour's four stages, including Friday night's 12-mile North Douglas Highway Time Trial, and took second place in the overall point standings behind Graves -- tried to work together on the final sprint. But the two Haines riders couldn't hold off Graves, who also won two stages and picked up valuable bonus points in the sprints.
``I think I watched too many Tour de France videos last month, where someone took off early and led most of the race,'' Williams said of his early breakaway, which gave him a 10-second lead on the other riders for about four miles. ``That was about the only fastpaced riding. Dan (Harrington) and I tried to get the primes (time bonuses), and we were trying to work together at the end when I tried to give Dan a lead-out for the sprint. Dan looked back and said we might as well go for it. But we couldn't hold them off.''
``I thought it (the Tour of Juneau) was a great race,'' Harrington said. ``But today we all Gramma'd it. Four or five guys pushing the pace can really split the pack up, but that didn't happen today.''
Jim Sheufelt tried to break away from the pack with about 2 miles left to the finish line, but the pack caught and passed him about 500 feet from the finish line. Sheufelt had nothing left and ended up in 12th place at 1:32:54.
``I tried to get a break going, but they ate me up at the finish,'' Sheufelt said. ``When you're not one of the top sprinters, you've got to take a shot. I had nothing left at the finish, but it was fun. If (Dave) Ringle or someone had gone with me it might have worked, but I was alone.''
Kelliher tried to push the pace through much of the race, riding at the front of the pack nearly the entire race instead of occasionally drifting back to let the other riders break the wind for him. Kelliher, who missed Wednesday's prologue stage, had no chance of winning the overall points title.
``My objective was just to work hard,'' said Kelliher, who's training for the Mount Washington (N.H.) Hill Climb on Aug. 19. ``We're all strong riders, but no one wanted to break away.''
Chris Scholes, who returned to Juneau earlier this summer after a three-year absence, tied for third place overall with Williams. Scholes won the final prime, which gave him the three points he needed for the tie.
``I expected to be in the lead group, but not in the sprint at the end,'' Scholes said. ``I felt better today than yesterday. The top five or six riders up here are really strong.''
Harrington won Friday's time trial stage by just one second over Graves, posting a time of 26:16 to 26:17 for Graves. Williams took third place in 26:26, followed by Julie Graves in 27:56. In the time trial, each rider left at 30-second intervals so they were competing against the clock.