Posted by Editor on 06/14/07
Tour de Beauce
Photos part one
There were two races going on today in stage three of the Tour de Beauce - the one to claim victory at the top of Mont Megantic, and one for the yellow jersey of overall race leader. Glen Chadwick (Navigators) took his second consecutive win for the former, and Gregorio Ladino Vega (Tecos) won the fight for yellow, deposing Mark Walters (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada).
The Mont Megantic stage is the 'big one' at Beauce. It is not the longest, but it does have 4 KoM climbs, ending with a five kilometre ascent to over 1100 metres atop Mont Megantic. The average gradient for the final 3 kilometres is approximately 9%, with steep pitches over 16%. This comes at the end of 152 kilometres, and usually with a mad dash between breakaway riders attempting to stave off capture, and top contenders charging up behind them. Sometimes the breakaways stay clear, and sometimes they are all caught on the slopes of Mont Megantic.
This year saw two riders from a late break manage to stay away - Chadwick and Francois Parisien (Slipstream), with Ladino Vega charging in fourth (just behind Chadwick's team mate Sergey Lagutin), and just ahead of other GC contenders Ben Day (Navigators), Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) and Jacob Erker (Symmetrics).
The stage began with the usual flurry of attacks, but the one that stuck was a two rider effort by German champion Dirk Muller (Sparkasse) and U23 jersey holder Cam Evans (Symmetrics). The pair started their effort at the 10 kilometre mark, with a third rider - Ryan Mckenzie (VW-Trek) - who was dropped in the climbs, leaving two out alone.
The success of the break was 'aided' by a crash at the back of the peloton at the 11 kilometre point. 12-15 riders went down, with some sailing through the air into a deep ditch at the side of the road. Worst injured were Luis Fernando Macias (Tecos) with a broken collarbone, David Veilleux (Garneau-Crocs) with abrasions and damage to his shoulder and collarbone, and the following riders with cuts and abrasions: Peter Morse (Spin 12), Peter Ladd (Garneau-Crocs), Dustin MacBurnie (Team R.A.C.E.) and Eric Robertson (Team R.A.C.E.).
Defending Beauce champion and Climbers jersey holder Valeriy Kobzarenko (Navigators) also went down hard, but remounted and chased back to the peloton with the back of his jersey in tatters. However, as the race wore on it was obvious that Kobzarenko was feeling the effects of his crash, and he dropped out shortly after the third KoM of the day.
The lead duo stretched their lead to over five minutes by the second KoM (70 kilometre mark), but the knives were out for a tiring Kodak Gallery squad by this point, and a dangerous group managed to get away over the top of the climb. GC contenders Dominique Perras (Team Quebec), Day (with Lagutin), Danny Pate (Slipstream) and Ladino Vega were all there, and Walters was off the front of the splintering peloton on his own chasing.
He and his team got help from Symmetrics and Sparkasse as the peloton reintegrated, since they couldn't let this group get away either. After 20 kilometres of hard effort the breakaways were caught, all but the indefatigable Muller, who was still away.
"When the move went it was dangerous," agreed Tuft. "Pate, Ladino, Day and Perras were up there, so we had to put the boys in the front. It was a thing of beauty to watch the way they pulled it back, because those guys in front were going hard."
As the peloton took a breather, another group rolled off, containing Chadwick, Parisien, Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics), Hector Rangel (Tecos), Timo Honsteins (Sparkasse), David Pell (Savings and Loan) and Jacob Nielsen (Farso Denmark). This group did not have any dangerous GC members, and was allowed away. They scooped up Muller and extended their lead to 90 seconds with 20 kilometres to go.
"Kodak Gallery and Symmetrics were chasing down Pate's group," explained Parisien "and then it blew apart with counterattacks. As it calmed a bit I attacked and Eric (Wohlberg) was right behind me, then the other guys came up."
At ten to go, Muller attacked, and only Parisien responded. The two hit the base of the climb with a 30 second gap on the chasers, and Muller attacked again, opening 10 metres on Parisien on the first steep section of the climb. However, the German's days were numbered, and he blew up spectacularly on the second steep section, with three kilometres to go, eventually losing nearly four minutes in the final three kilometres.
Parisien moved into the lead, but Chadwick had shed the rest of the break and came surging up, passing the Canadian rider, who manage to latch on until Chadwick sprinted the final 200 metres to take the stage win, and the Points jersey. Ladino Vega came rolling in just behind Lagutin 30 seconds later, with Day and Tuft a further 20 seconds back. Former leader Walters finished 21st, 3:11 down, and dropped to 11th in the standings.
Chadwick was obviously pleased with his second victory. "I can't complain," he said with a grin. "One win on a long breakaway, the other on the climb. There were long chases after the (second and third) KoMs, and Kodak and Symmetrics were doing a lot of work, so they were tired. I just followed a move. But there was another race behind us for the GC, so I was just lucky that we held them off."
"The German had been away all day, so I wasn't too worried about him, and once I got across to Frank (Parisien) we rode a good tempo. I could see Frank when I got to the bottom of the climb, so he was my carrot."
New race leader Ladino Vega finished second on Megantic last year and sixth overall, and was confident coming into the climb. "I knew after the first stage that could go with the people who mattered, so I was not worried. For me, this was pretty easy to climb."
- Tomorrow is a double stage day, with a 20 kilometre time trial in the morning and a criterium in the evening. The time trial is likely to see another shake up in the standings. Tuft as a two-time Canadian TT champion is a strong favourite, as is Day. One of those two will likely don the yellow jersey tomorrow, although Ladino Vega is putting on a strong face: "I will give my maximum in the time trial," he says. "I hope to be in good condition to defend the yellow jersey."
- Tuft commented on his improved ability to do the long climbs. "This year at the races in South America I've been able to stay with the Colombians on the climbs, so it's given me a lot of confidence. I've learned a lot about myself, and how I climb. I try to avoid the accelerations, and treat it like a time trial. If they go too hard then I can just come back to them."
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