Posted by Editoress on 06/18/17
Once again, the final stage of the Tour de Beauce proved to be decisive, upending the general classification and reassigning three of four jerseys. Latvia's Andzs Flaksis (Holowesko-Citadel) jumped from eighth and 2:13 out of the lead to win the overall classification after finishing fourth on the stage. Rob Britton (Rally Cycling) won the final 122 kilometre stage in an impressive solo break for the final 35 kilometres.
The last stage is a 10 kilometre circuit that the riders cover 12 times. It includes a 1.5 kilometre climb and zig-zags through the streets of St-Georges, forcing the riders to constantly brake and accelerate. Add to that 32 (Celcius) heat, and the stage has regularly seen upsets occur.
Yellow Jersey holder Alec Cowan (Silber) came into the stage with a 26 second advantage over Jordan Cheyne (Jelly Belly) and 35 seconds over Jack Burke (Aevolo). Silber was put to the test immediately, with Ian Garrison (Axeon Hagens Berman) - 1:22 down - part of the group that attacked on the first climb. Silber struggled to keep discipline for three laps before it all came apart, with multiple attacks from different teams exploding the peloton.
By Lap 3 a group of 16 were away, including Cheyne, Burke, Garrison and Clement Russo (St-Etienne), who was fifth at 50 seconds. A second group, containing Flaksis, was making their way across, while Cowan was struggling in a third group, losing ground with every pedal stroke. When the two front groups combined they effectively became the peloton, with the Yellow Jersey group over three minutes down at the halfway point. Cowan's group would suffer a final indignity of being pulled at the start of the final lap, as Britton lapped them.
At the front, Britton and Gavin Mannion (United Healthcare) broke away with four laps to go, and Britton dropped Mannion on the climb to go solo for the win. A chase group containing Flaksis, his team mate Robin Carpenter, Diego Milan Jimenez (Inteja) and Francisco Mancebo (Canyon) dropped the rest of the field, and that would prove to be decisive, since they finished three minutes ahead of the group containing Cheyne.
Russo attacked on the final climb to just overtake Cheyne for second in the overall standings, and won the Best Young Rider competition, with Carpenter winning the Points Jersey and Nigel Ellsay (Silber) managing to hold onto the Climber's Jersey. Only 42 riders would be classified at the end of the race, and only 29 were on the same lap as Britton. Cowan finished 11th in the final standings.
"I wanted to win this stage for the last five years, but I've just never been able to put it together," said Britton. "but today with the heat ... it was a hard day! You have to earn it on this stage, there's no hiding. With five laps to go Paco [Mancebo] attacked, which was perfect and I went after him. Then I attacked with Mannion and a St-Etienne rider and after a lap I was by myself. So then it was four laps of hanging out, out there, givin' 'er. This win, on this stage, is very special to me."
Cheyne, finishing third overall, commented "I thinking everyone had a narrow focus on the top three guys, but this stage can really shake things up from the top ten down. To dislodge Silber was the first goal and then we had to protect Keegan (Swirlbul) and myself, and we didn't really have the manpower to do it in that group. We were aware that guys could go up the road and it's easy to get time on this course. We had to roll the dice with someone and Flaksis was about two and a half minutes down. Unfortunately, we came up a bit short, but I'm really proud of the way the team rode. This is my first race as a GC leader, so I know I've got a lot to learn."
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