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It was going to take a miracle - or a bad accident - for anybody to keep John McConnochie or Janice Sheufelt from winning the overall titles during Sunday's final stage of the Juneau Freewheelers cycling club's Tour of Juneau.
McConnochie and Sheufelt both held commanding advantages of 3 to 3 1/2 minutes entering Sunday's 50-mile Auke Rec Road Race. But neither cyclist was willing to sit back on the lead.
McConnochie, 50, pulled away halfway through the final lap of the eight-lap course near Auke Village Recreation Area and Lena Loop Road to win the expert men's stage by seven seconds. Sheufelt won a three-woman sprint in her stage as all three female riders had the same time.
In the men's stage, McConnochie posted a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes, 56 seconds to beat five riders who all had the same times of 2:18:03. Ryan Ruesch took second place in the stage and John Bursell was third.
That gave McConnochie his second straight overall title, with wins in all three stages. Last year McConnochie only won by 31 seconds, but this year his victory margin was nearly 4 1/2 minutes over runner-up Kevin Petrone. McConnochie's overall time, which included three 20-second time bonuses for his stage wins, was 3:29:59.
Petrone's second-place overall time was 3:34:23, while Glenn Iceton of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, was third overall in 3:35:09. Sitka's Brent Peters took fourth place in 3:36:15, and Bursell was fourth in 3:36:30. None of the other male cyclists besides McConnochie won more than one of the nine time bonuses, which also included a 12-second bonus for a second-place stage finish or an 8-second bonus for third place.
"We were blessed by the weather and we had some great volunteers to put this on for us," said McConnochie, who rode the entire 148-mile Kluane-Chilkat International Bike Relay as a solo racer in June. "I think I had a lot of base from training for Kluane, and I kept up my general fitness."
"That last lap, I was probably in the middle of the pack, and he (McConnochie) just kept on accelerating," Ruesch said of McConnochie's breakaway at the end of the stage. "We were chugging along, but no one could catch him."
In the women's expert race, only three of the four riders started the final stage so they decided to stay with each other and work together through the 50 miles. All three women - Sheufelt, Gina St. Clair of Haines and Betsy Fischer - took turns leading their pack. But in the end they finished in the same order they'd finished the previous stages, with Sheufelt leading St. Clair and Fischer across the line, all with times of 2:40:40.
"After yesterday's time trial, we decided to work together," Sheufelt said. "We had a really nice ride. It was pretty mellow."
Sheufelt posted a three-day time of 4:08:08, which included three 20-second time bonuses. St. Clair's runner-up time was 4:12:15 (including three 12-second time bonuses) and Fischer took third in 4:16:32 (including three 8-second time bonuses).
"This was the easiest of the three (stages)," St. Clair said. "The first two we were on our own, and you kill yourself. Today we did a good job of setting a doable pace."
"This is St. Janice and this is St. Gina," Fischer said, meaning the other two riders pulled her along. "What was great was we saw the (men's) race happen. We saw when John took off."
In the sport division races, which went five laps or about 31 miles, the leads changed in the final stage.
In the men's race, which started a minute after the experts, the top sport riders caught up to the experts and mixed into that pack before the experts put on a burst of speed to weed out a few of the novices.
Jonathan Pollard won the stage in 1:27:58, but he didn't figure in the overall standings because he skipped Saturday's time trial so he could do a 10-mile run. Ryan Knight, 17, of Whitehorse, took second place in the stage at 1:28:01. But he was far enough ahead of Whitehorse's Liam Kiemele, who took fourth in the stage, that Knight took the overall title.
Knight's overall time was 2:19:14 (including a 20-, a 12- and an 8-second time bonus), while Kiemele, 16, was second in 2:21:19 (with two 12-second time bonuses). Steve Thornton took third overall in 2:23:59 (with two 8-second time bonuses).
"It was pretty good. It was a fun race," said Knight, who was racing in Juneau for the first time. "It's the same people in Whitehorse all the time."
Sheila Good was in second place among the sport women entering Sunday's stage, but leader Cheryl Levitt wasn't feeling well and didn't race (she did watch the stage). That gave Good the title as she was the only woman to complete all three stages, posting an overall time of 2:45:48 (with two 20- and one 12-second time bonuses) and a stage time of 1:47:13.
"I was really bummed not to see Cheryl," Good said. "It was like a 31-mile time trial, the hard way. But it was fun."
The only other sport woman in the stage was Abby Focht, who made her cycling race debut using a borrowed mountain bike that was much slower than the road bikes used by the other racers. Focht, who said she saw two deer on one of the laps, finished the stage in 2:29:22. She said she hopes to be back for more racing.
"My friends Kevin (Petrone) and Eloise (Brown) talked me into it," said Focht, who dangled a water bottle on a strap because there was no rack on the bike. "I've been housesitting, and this is a bike from the house. I don't even have my own bike. I'm saving up for a road bike."
TOUR OF JUNEAU
Results of the first two days of the Juneau Freewheelers cycling club's Tour of Juneau, a three-day stage race held Friday through Sunday. Friday's stage was the 5-mile Eaglecrest Hill Climb. Saturday's stage was the 40-kilometer North Douglas Highway Time Trial (about 25 miles for expert riders, about 14 miles for sport division). Sunday's stage was the 50-mile Auke Rec Road Race, with eight laps of a circuit for experts and five laps (about 31 miles) for the sport division. All riders are from the Juneau area, unless noted.
THREE-DAY OVERALL STANDINGS
Expert men - 1. John McConnochie, age 50-59, 3 hours, 29 minutes, 59 seconds (time includes three 20-second time bonuses); 2. Kevin Petrone, age 30-39, 3:34:23 (time includes one 12-second time bonus); 3. Glenn Iceton, age 20-29, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, 3:59:09 (time includes one 12-second time bonus); 4. Brent Peters, age 30-39, Sitka, 3:36:15 (time includes one 8-second time bonus); 5. John Bursell, age 40-49, 3:36:30 (time includes one 8-second time bonus); 6. Ryan Ruesch, age 20-29, 3:37:20 (time includes one 12-second time bonus); 7. Dave Pusich, age 30-39, 3:38:53; 8. Dan Kelliher, age 40-49, Sitka, 3:42:14; 9. Scott Fischer, age 50-59, 3:48:44; 10. Terry Ward, age 40-49, 3:50:29; 11. Karl Twelker, age 20-29, 3:51:12. Incomplete (did not ride all three stages): Mike McCann, age 50-59, Whitehorse (time includes one 8-second time bonus); Jeremy Anderson, age 30-39; Fritz Moser, age 40-49; Neil Slotnick, age 40-49; Steve White, age 50-59; Dominic Bradford, age 30-39; Brian Glynn, age 40-49; Joe Sorenson, age 40-49; Don Eagle, age 30-39.
Expert women - 1. Janice Sheufelt, age 30-39, 4:08:08 (time includes three 20-second time bonuses); 2. Gina St. Clair, age 40-49, Haines, 4:12:15 (time includes three 12-second time bonuses); 3. Betsy Fischer, age 50-59, 4:16:32 (time includes three 8-second time bonuses); Incomplete: Eloise Brown, age 30-39.
Sport men - 1. Ryan Knight, age 20-younger, Whitehorse, 2:19:14 (time includes one 20-second time bonus, one 12-second time bonus and one 8-second time bonus); 2. Liam Kiemele, age 20-younger, Whitehorse, 2:21:19 (time includes two 12-second time bonuses); 3. Steve Thornton, age 20-29, 2:23:59 (time includes two 8-second time bonuses); 4. Ryan Siverly, age 20-younger, 2:26:27; 5. Lewis Brooks, age 50-59, 2:38:02; 6. Jim Papoi, age 30-39, 2:41:24; 7. Mike Baxter, age 30-39, 2:44:15; 8. Dennis Travis, age 40-49, 2:56:10. Incomplete: Jonathan Pollard, age 50-59 (time includes one 20-second time bonus); Eran Hood, age 30-39 (time includes one 20-second time bonus); Bill Curtis, age 50-59, Whitehorse; Scott Yarnall, age 30-39.
Sport women - 1. Sheila Good, age 40-49, 58:55 (time includes two 20-second time bonuses and one 12-second time bonus). Incomplete: Cheryl Levitt, age 30-39 (time includes one 20-second time bonus and one 12-second time bonus); Abby Focht, age 20-29 (time includes one 12-second time bonus).
SUNDAY'S THIRD STAGE
AUKE REC ROAD RACE
Expert men (eight laps, about 50 miles) - 1. John McConnochie, 2:17:56; 2. Ryan Ruesch, 2:18:03; 3. John Bursell, 2:18:03; 4. Glenn Iceton, 2:18:03; 5. Dave Pusich, 2:18:03; 6. Kevin Petrone, 2:18:03; 7. Brent Peters, 2:18:31; 8. Dan Kelliher, 2:19:47; 9. Terry Ward, 2:26:03; 10. Karl Twelker, 2:26:03; 11. Scott Fischer, 2:29:10; DNF: Mike McCann; DNF: Joe Sorenson.
Expert women - 1. Janice Sheufelt, 2:40:40; 2. Gina St. Clair, 2:40:40; 3. Betsy Fischer, 2:40:40.
Sport men (five laps, about 31 miles) - 1. Jonathan Pollard, 1:27:58; 2. Ryan Knight, 1:28:01; 3. Steve Thornton, 1:30:12; 4. Liam Kiemele, 1:30:37; 5. Ryan Siverly, 1:30:38; 6. Rob Welton, 1:33:28; 7. Bill Curtis, 1:36:46; 8. Lewis Brooks, 1:41:26; 9. Jim Papoi, 1:43:06; 10. Dennis Travis, 1:52:04.
Sport women - 1. Sheila Good, 1:47:13; 2. Abby Focht, 2:29:22.