Posted by Editoress on 06/14/17
The 32nd edition of the Tour de Beauce was torn apart on the opening stage, on Wednesday, when a group of 25 riders opened up a staggering 26-plus minute gap on the main field. Emile Jean of the local Silber Pro Cycling squad won the stage and the leader's jersey in a two-up sprint against Ian Garrison (Axeon Hagens Berman), with the rest of the break ten seconds back.
The 185 kilometre stage is one familiar to previous Beauce participants, beginning in the host town of St-Georges and heading 31 kilometres to a 15 kilometre circuit, which the riders completed eight times before heading back to finish in St-Georges. Since it is Beauce, the course is rarely flat, with long climbs, rough roads and, in this instance, constant gusty winds.
Despite constant attacks on the way out to the circuit, a break did not get established until during the first lap. An initial group of eight rolled off the front, was joined by another group of 15 and a few additional riders to make a final break of 25. While all the major teams were represented, many of the GC riders were missing from the mix, so it seemed surprising when the group began to pull away from the main peloton.
Within a lap, the gap was five minutes, then eight, and, as the peloton shut down, stretched into double digits. Clark, Eisenhart and Carpenter were missing from Holowesko/Citadel, Novo Nordisk completely missed the break, United Healthcare had neither Cataford nor Hegyvary up front, Silber's captain Ryan Roth missed the move, as did Britton and Dal-Cin from Rally, and Fisher and Mancebo from Canyon. This was a chance for younger riders to shine, with ten Under-23 riders at the front.
"As soon as we saw every team was represented up front, I wasn't surprised that the main field stopped riding," explained Jean. "I was in the first group that got a way and then a bigger group came from behind."
The lead bunch stayed together until the race turned off the circuit to head back to the finish. A final KoM climb began to split the leaders up and led to what would be the winning move, with Jean bridging across to Garrison and Laurent Gervais (Aevolo). The trio quickly opened a 30 second and then 40 second gap with 13 kilometres to go before the chase began behind.
"When the first two guys got away [Garrison and Gervais] I knew this could be dangerous, so I jumped across," said Jean. "Then we rode all in to the line and just made it. I've done the [finish] quite few times, since it's been a stage in Beauce and was used for the national championships, so Canadians are used to the last stretch. I knew that if I could surprise him and get a gap it would be hard for him to come around me."
Gervais was dropped by the other two in the final few kilometres. The finish features a sharp right turn and then a short 200 metre uphill to the finish line. Jean, knowing the course well, came out of the corner second and then jumped by Garrison to take the stage and the jersey. Travis McCabe (United Healthcare) won the bunch sprint.
While Jean took the Yellow Jersey, Garrison becomes Best Young Rider, McCabe moves into the Points Jersey and Ignacio Sarabia (Inteja Dominican) dons the Climber's Jersey.
Going into Stage 2, there are only 21 riders in contention, with the next four riders ten minutes down and the rest of the field at 26-plus minutes. Stage 2 is the Queen stage of the Tour de Beauce, finishing with a five kilometre climb up Mont Megantic, and will almost certainly see a rearrangement at the front of the field.
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