Posted by Editor on 09/3/99
Overcoming jetlag, Lars Michaelson of the La Francaise des Jeux team led his team mate Jean-Cyril Robin across the line in the first stage of the Trans-Canada Cycling Tour.
The Danish rider was one of 96 riders to start this 1500 kilometre race from Quebec City to Fort Erie in Ontario (near Niagara Falls). Many of the European teams did not arrive in Quebec until late last night, and then started a gruelling 9 lap tour of a 14.4 kilometre circuit through QuebecÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s old city. The course featured a finishing climb of 1.5 kilometres, with sections approaching a 14% grade, all raced under 32 degree Celcius heat (90 Fahrenheit).
The stage began slowly, as the riders got used to the circuit, and sized each other up. While there were a number of breakaway attempts, it wasnÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t until the final two laps that a serious effort managed to stick - possibly helped by a crash that took down Matt Stephens (Linda McCartney), Levi Leipheimer (Saturn) and Canadian Eric Wohlberg (Canadian National). Stephens was taken to hospital, and is out with a possibly dislocated shoulder, but Wohlberg and Leipheimer got back up to the lead group of approximately 25 riders pretty quickly. However, Leipheimer later dropped off and finished some 15 minutes back - no word on whether this was the result of an injury or mechanical problems.
Other than Leipheimer, the top riders all made the cut in the front group, and stayed together until the last two and a half laps, when Michaelsen, Robin and Jerome Bonnace (French National) rolled off the front. Early on, it appeared that the break wasnÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t too serious, but the two La Francaise des Jeux riders took turns at the front setting a strong pace, particularly on the climb.
Michaelsen then attacked on the final climb to the finish, and soloed in for the stage victory and the leaderÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s jersey, ahead of his team mate, with Bonnace third. A pleased Michaelsen said Ã¢â‚¬Å¾This is my first victory in a UCI race this year. I started feeling good last week in the Tour of Holland, and after sitting in for the first couple of laps here I knew I could do well. The climb here is like the ones we do in the Spring Classics, very good for me.Ã¢â‚¬Â°
American Freddie Rodriguez (Mapei-Quick Step) took fourth, with an excellent final climb surge, and also took the red jersey of the Leading North American. Top Canadian was Sylvain Beauchamp (Canadian National) in 11th. Robin took the green Points Jersey, and Valentino Fois (Vini Caldirola) the ClimberÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s Jersey.
- ex-pro Charley Mottet is the Technical Director for the race.
- many of the Euros were surprised at how hard the first stage was, and are possibly re-evaluating their Ã…â€™holidayÃ¢â‚¬Å¡ in Canada.
- TSN - The Sports Network - is providing daily half hour coverage in Canada, with Steve Bauer supplying the colour commentary
- No results yet - the organizers have been Ã…â€™promisingÃ¢â‚¬Å¡ them for over 4 hours now...
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