Posted by Editoress on 06/19/03
Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce
This report made possible through the sponsorship of Evolution by Oryx
Gord Fraser (Health Net) rebounded overnight from a disappointing finish in the second stage of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce to record his 13th career win at the race in stage 3. John Lieswyn (7 Up-Maxxis) finished with the peloton and remains in the yellow jersey.
The 151 kilometre Lac Etchemin stage is one of the hardest in the race, and has been instrumental in determining the final winner in past years. In 2001, Henk Vogels took the leader's jersey during this stage after a long breakaway, and last year a split in the field put all but twenty riders out of contention. The stage is "relentless", in the words of Eric Wohlberg (Canadian National), with constant climbs and descents sapping the strength of the riders.
Starting under overcast skies, with the promise of rain, attacks began almost immediately, but nothing would stick until the first KoM at the 30 kilometre mark, when five riders broke clear. Lubor Tesar (Ed's System - ZVVZ), Jamie Drew (Flanders - Iteamnova.com), Irving Aguilar (Tecos - Mercurio), Burke Swindlehurst (Navigators Cycling Team), Todd Herriot (Health Net Cycling Team) and Matt Decanio (Prime Alliance Cycling Team) quickly established a gap over the disinterested field.
From three minutes in the first 10 kilometres, it went to over 9 minutes by the feedzone at the halfway point. 7 Up wasn't chasing because, according to Lieswyn, "We wanted to get rid of the jersey before tomorrow's Mont Megantic stage. Not by too much, maybe 20-30 seconds, but to put the pressure on somebody else. I was hoping to see the gap go up higher."
Flanders - Iteamnova.com would have been happy to take over the pressure, according to Dominique Perras. "We sent Drew on the break because he was just outside the top 10 - not too far back, but maybe off the radar. We were hoping that it (the break) would get a really good gap and we could move him up."
However, 9 minutes was too much for many, and Prime Alliance were the first to start chasing, joined by the Canadian National squad and, eventually, VW-Trek plus former overall winner Czeslaw Lukaszewicz (Quebec Provincial). After this, it looked to be merely a matter of time, with the peloton reaching speeds on the flat of up to 60 kilometres per hour.
With 15 kilometres remaining the gap was under a minute, and Tesar, who won three stages last year, including Lac Etchemin, attacked off the front of the break. Looking extremely strong, the Czech rider pulled back time on the entire field, temporarily regaining a one minute lead. It wasn't until the final climb, at the 4 kilometre mark that he was finally reeled in.
Determined not to get boxed in like the day before, Fraser latched onto the two Russian speedsters from Navigators - Vassili Davidenko and yesterday's winner Oleg Grishkine. "It was a drag race, and I beat him fair and square. Davidenko's team mate Grishkine made a move to the front before the last corner to lead Davidenko, so I got on their wheels and jumped before they could react. I knew that if I could get to the front before the last little hill I could take it."
Tomorrow Beauce continues with what is considered to be the hardest stage - Mont Megantic - which finishes with a 6 kilometre climb that approaches 20% in places.
- After the race, Lieswyn admitted that he had thought about hitting the brakes to lose enough time to get rid of the jersey, and that he received radio instructions to do so, but "that is too cheesy - you have to respect the jersey."
- For the second day, there was a crash in the final 2 kilometres. Eric Wohlberg (Canadian National), in fourth overall, did not go down, but White Jersey holder Chris Baldwin (Navigators) did. Both were credited with the same finishing time as the peloton. There is finger pointing at the Japanese Shimano team as the cause of numerous crashes.
- There was some confusion as to why Prime Alliance was leading the chase, when they had Matt Decanio up the road. However, "I've been sick with the flu, and lost a bunch of time on the first stage." explained Decanio afterwards. I'm 8 minutes back, so it wasn't a good move for us to support the break.
- The roads at Beauce are always rough, but this year they seem especially bad and had Eric Wohlberg referred to them as a "minefield."
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