January 26, 2012 (Minneapolis, MN) – Skiers have reached the midpoint of the 5-stage Tour De Twin Cities. On Wednesday evening, racers contested a prologue skate sprint under the lights at Wirth Park. The 1.4 kilometer course started on the high point of Wirth, gradually descended 60 feet, and then climbed back to the top.
With temperatures sitting right around 32 degrees, the man-made snow transformed to the point of being lightning fast. From the side of the course, it was apparent that some athletes were struggling to find the line between skiing with power versus slipping into a frantic tempo. The results confirmed a fast course: the top four male athletes finished within the same second, and the top three women were split by only one second.
The men’s race saw three new athletes on the podium. Tim Reynolds (Craftsbury Green Racing Team) took the win and the $250 bonus awarded to the sprint winner. Second and third went to Patrick O’Brien (Craftsbury) and Mark Iverson (APUNSC). Just 8 tenths of a second out of the win, and 1 hundredth of a second behind Iverson. Samuel Naney (Methow Olympic Development/Madshus) was oh-so-close to the podium in fourth.
On the women’s side, Jennie Bender (CXC) recorded the win and claimed the $250 bonus. With the overall victory in mind, Bender says, “I am in a little bit better position for this weekend.” Second place went to Lauren Fritz (APUNSC), and Caitlin Gregg (CXC) was third.
This was the last Minneapolis event of the Tour, as the races move to the St. Paul area for next weekend’s final events. With three races complete, Team Strong Heart’s Matt Liebsch (fifth in the sprint) has a solid lead in the overall classification with Sylvan Ellefson (SSC Vail) 19 points behind. After her win, Jennie Bender has the lead in the overall classification by just 4 points over Caitlin Gregg.