Posted by Editor on 06/18/02
Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce - Stage 2 Report
Today, stage 2, the first 'real' stage at Beauce, was disjointed. The weather was cool and overcast, and the 162 kilometre stage from Levis to Ste-Marie was also counting as the Commonwealth Games selection race for the road men. So, Mercury had every incentive to keep it together for their sprinter Gord Fraser, as did Navigators, whose speedsters Oleg Grishkine and Vasili Davidenko had joined the peloton after being held up the day before at the U.S. border with visa problems (they started the day with the time of the slowest rider from the night before two-up dragfest). The course also lent itself to a sprint finish, with a number of rolling climbs towards the end, but nothing major enough to cause a split in the field.
So, an early breakaway of two - Johan Coenen (Marlux - Ville de Charleroi) and Doug Ziewacz (7Up-Nutra Fig) were allowed to go away at the 37 kilometre mark and build up a 5:30 lead before Mercury and Saturn went to the front and slowly reeled them in. Everything was back together with 60 kilometres to go, and that was when the race got into the larger rollers - the ones that make Beauce so hard.
The peloton thinned out a few times on the climbs, but came back together on the downhills, until 30 kilometres to go, when Lubor Tesar (NÃƒÂ¼rnberger) and David McKenzie (iTeamNova.com) broke clear. Tom Leaper (Navigators) bridged up to them, and the trio began to make time on the field, with Leaper doing much of the work. The maximum gap was 1:30 after 10 kilometres, but by 5 kilometres to go Leaper had blown (and would get caught at the line), and the pack was breathing down the necks of Tesar and McKenzie. The duo would manage to hold of the field by 15 seconds, with the Czech, Tesar, taking the stage and the yellow jersey. Gord Fraser finished third after a strong leadout by Scott Moninger, and grabbed the brass ring - automatic qualification for the Commonwealth Games. Fraser also took third on the GC, courtesy of the time bonus awarded.
"I'm happy to make the team, but disappointed that I didn't win the stage." said Fraser afterwards. "We decided to start chasing with 20 kilometres to go; if we had started earlier maybe we would have caught them."
Overall leader Tesar had a hard ride to take the lead. "It was so windy that it was very hard. The gap is so small that I am not sure what we are going to do - the team has many strong riders, so it may not be me (they support)."
Tesar took the Points jersey as well as the Yellow, early breakaway Johan Coenen will wear the Mountain jersey, Martin Gilbert (Volkswagen-Trek) team dons the jersey for Best Quebec Rider and Allan Davis (Mapei-Quick Step) the Best Young Rider jersey.
Tomorrow the riders face the tough Lac Etchemin stage of 150 kilometres. Last year Svein Tuff (now Prime Alliance) was in a stage long break with Henk Vogels (Mercury), the eventual winner. Will we see Svein out there again?
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