Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 27, 2008

Tolleson takes Tour title

Samplonius wins women's crown at Tour de Leelanau


PESHAWBESTOWN -- A late sprint, an early break-away.

Taylor Tolleson swept by a pair of Bissell riders at the final hill to win the fourth Priority Health Tour de Leelanau bicycling race on Sunday.

Anne Samplonius broke away from the pack early and rode to a two-minute victory in the women's race.

In his first Tour, Tolleson finished the race in a time of 4:15:09 with Ben Jacques-Maynes and Teddy King on either side. Competing for BMC Racing, Tolleson earned $3,200 for pushing past the Bissell riders on the ascent behind Eagle's Ridge in Peshawbestown.

"I pulled away just at the very end," Tolleson said.

"It's a full-on sprint once you hit the corner," runner-up Jacques-Maynes said. "When you unleash the legs, it's whoever has the most and that's Taylor here."

Samplonius, racing for Cheerwine, broke away 20 kilometers into the race and rode up front the rest of the way to take first in 2:58:05 and earn a $2,000 check.

"For me, (the finish) wasn't very stressful because I was out front by about two minutes," Samplonius said. "I could sit up and relax. I could crawl up that final hill, so it was fun."

Of course, Tolleson didn't have that luxury. But the BMC cyclist said he did enjoy the competition.

"It started out pretty quick and was really fast all day," he said. "It was a real good race, a real positive race. There were a lot of attacking, a lot of tactical stuff going on."

And coming up the last hill, Tolleson had enough of a kick to cross the finish line with a yell and both arms upraised.

"He's known to be a pretty good sprinter," said King, who crossed the line in 4:15:10. "I wouldn't say that it came as a surprise. He's a super-talented cyclist.

"Everyone's giving it everything they have the last 250 meters. If we did it three more times right now, maybe Ben would win, maybe I would win. You never know.

"That's not to take anything away from Tyler. He rode a great race."

Bissell had the 2007 men's champion while racing for Priority Health. And even with the sponsor change, Bissell showed it could put riders out front.

"Our team has had a good run here," Jacques-Maynes said. "The Bissell team wanted to race very aggressively and I think we succeeded in doing that. We had good representation all race.

"A couple more meters at the end would have put us on the top step, but we have to be happy with two spots on the podium."

Charles Dionne, racing for Successful Living, was fourth in 4:15:11 while Tolleson's teammate, Darren Lill, was fifth in 4:15:19.

Samplonius and her teammate, Leigh Hobson (3:00:19), took the top two spots in the women's race. And after the race, Samplonius gave her teammates all the credit for keeping her out front, especially with her unplanned break.

"The opportunity just happened," Samplonius said. "I went around the corner faster than the rest of the girls and I had a gap. I looked back and thought, 'Wow, I'm going to put the pressure on. The whole idea for our team was to make it super hard. We have a great sprinter in Laura VanGilder so I knew if I was caught, that I had a great team behind me and that they would take over.

"It wasn't really a move where I thought I was going to win, it was more of sacrificing myself for the team. It just worked out well and the girls behind me on my team covered everything."

"We have a really solid team and a lot of solid players," Hobson added. "That was comforting so we could take a lot of chances, be aggressive and ride your bike without worrying where you're supposed to finish."

Joanne Kiesanowski of Team Tibco placed third in 3:00:21 while VanGilder was fourth in 3:01:05. Tina Pic of Colavita/Sutter Home took fifth in 3:02:16.