June 16/04 10:00 am - Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce: Stage 2 story
Posted by Editoress on 06/16/04
Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce
Tomasz Brozyna (Action ATI) took the yellow leader's jersey from Ivan Dominguez (Colavita-Bolla) on day two of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce, after an early race split in the field reduced the number of contenders dramatically. Brozyna won the 180 kilometre stage in front of Viktor Rapinski (Navigators) and Radoslaw Romanik (Hoop CCC Polsat), while Dominguez finished a whopping 17:36 back with the decimated main peloton.
Stage two was packed with the kind of terrain Beauce is infamous for: 2-3 kilometre long climbs of 7% and 8%, one after another, gradually wearing the riders down. Eric Wohlberg (Canadian National), a veteran of Beauce (who won the overall title in 1995), commented before the start of today's stage, "This is like Beauce of the past. Recently they've thrown in a flat stage or two, but now it is day after day of grinding, like they want us all to finish in body bags."
The action started almost immediately, as riders tried to get in good position for the first major climb of the day, 15 kilometres into the stage. On that climb, in Beauceville, 5 riders created a small gap by the summit, only to be joined by a few more, and then a few more again. Before they knew it, the group was 17 riders strong, with nine teams represented.
All the top teams had the move covered, with three from Action ATI, including Brozyna, three from Hoop CCC, two from Health Net (Scott Moninger and Mike Jones), two from Navigators (Ciaran Power, Jeff Louder), two from the German squad Winfix Arnolds (Thomas Liese, Timo Scholz), two from Capec (Assan Bazaev, Maxim Iglinskiy), Canadian national champion Dominique Perras (Canadian National), Alexandre Nadeau from the local VW-Trek squad, and Nathan O'Neill to babysit it for Colavita-Bolla.
The 6 Polish riders immediately put their heads down and motored, opening up three minutes on the field. Colavita-Bolla valiantly put their team on the front to limit the damage, but could not pull the break back. After chasing for over 100 kilometres, they eventually blew, the only result of their efforts coming after 110 kilometres, when Rapinski managed to jump across after Colavita brought the gap down to a tantalizingly close 90 seconds.
"Colavita did a great job, and got us close a couple of times. A few of us wanted to get across, but we didn't want to drag a whole bunch over. Rapinski made an impressive move, to bridge up like that. For me, it was totally plain and simple today - I just didn't have it. Fortunately for Team Canada, Dominique (Perras) was in there, and he is our best climber."
With Rapinski across, Navigators was happy, because they now had one of their two GC contenders in the lead group (Mark Walters didn't make it up). Speculation was that the Polish teams would drive it right to the finishing circuit, to maximize the time gap, but instead Brozyna and Romanik attacked again on the final KoM climb, with a little less than 40 kilometres to go, taking O'Neill with them.
"In the break I was in a perfect position" said O'Neill. "With Ivan in the yellow, I had a free ride all day. When those two attacked, I was the freshest."
The trio gained a quick 30 seconds, as the reminder of the former lead group looked at each other. Navigators sent Power and Louder to the front, and Mike Jones came up from Health Net. By the three kilometre finishing circuit the gap was down to 15 seconds. There was a tough 11% kicker, which the riders had to struggle over three times, and on the bell lap, with the leaders all but caught, Brozyna surged again, dropping O'Neill and Romanik to solo in for the win. Behind, Moninger and Rapinski had caught up to the two chasers, with Rapinski jumping 300 metres out to take second, ahead of Romanik.
Brozyna's win was no surprise - in 2001 he finished 22nd in the Tour de France, and last year he was 31st in the Giro.
"We had looked at the circuit before the start, because the organizer said that the finish was very tough. I knew that this would be the deciding factor, and that I would have to attack here. I was feeling very good, very fit, but I am not a sprinter, so I must attack on the last hill." explained Brozyna afterwards.
- Symmetrics was one team that missed the break. "At the bottom of the first KoM, Cam (Evans) had a flat." explained Svein Tuft, and some of the team waited for him. I was at front covering stuff, but when the crucial one went, I hesitated a bit, and that was it, it was too late.
But Colavita still could have brought the break back, if they weren't so disorganized. They would ride tempo, then they would go crazy fast for a while; putting their own riders in the gutter! If they had just set a steady pace, it would have all come back."
- Dominique Perras took the Green Jersey of top Quebec (and Canadian) rider. "The break just got away on that first climb when some guys went hard. Five went, then I came up with five others. The Polish teams started to drive it really hard, and that was it. My aim here is to win, or at least do really good on the general classification, so this was an important move to be in. I went with Moninger and Rapinski on the final circuit, but when Rapinski attacked, Moninger could respond and I couldn't."
- For Action ATI, Beauce is more important than just a win - their title sponsor is a Canadian company (ATI makes computer hardware), and they are extremely anxious to do well here. The team name is new, but the riders and manager are well used to Beauce - until last year the team was called Mroz.
- It was very nice to see O'Neill back at the front, after his potential career-ending broken neck last season, and a crash and knee surgery this past spring. O'Neill finished fifth, and was happy just to be in the race.
"Clearly, after today I am better than I was - I'm just so happy to be riding again. After being injured most of the year, I haven't raced much. Realistically I didn't have high expectations, but my form is starting to come. I had to dig really deep in the last 20 kilometres, but this is confidence building for me."
His next goal? "I'd like to win the time trial.
1. Tomasz Brozyna (Pol) Action-ATI, 7:34:44
2. Viktor Rapinski (Blr) Navigators Insurance, at 0:20
3. Radoslaw Romanik (Pol) Hoops CCC Polsat, s.t.
4. Nathan O'Neill (Aus) Colavita Olive Oil, 0:25
5. Scott Moninger (USA) Health Net, 0:26
6. Kazimierz Stafiej (Pol) Action-ATI, 0:32
7. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Capec, 0:39
8. Arkadiusz Wojtas (Pol) Hoops CCC Polsat, 0:43
9. Dominique Perras (Can) Canadian National Team, 0:50
10. Mike Jones (USA) Health Net/Maxxis, 1:21
11. Eugene Wacker (Kgz) Action-ATI, 1:22
12. Timo Scholz (Ger) Winfix Arnolds
13. Seweryn Kohut (Pol) Hoops CCC Polsat
14. Thomas Liese (Ger) Winfix Arnolds
15. Jeff Louder (USA) Navigators Insurance, both s.t.
16. Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Insurance, 2:24
17. Assan Bazaev (Kaz) Capec, 9.00
18. Alexandre Nadeau (Can) Volkswagen Trek, 9:02
19. Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Colavita Olive Oil, 17:35
20. Charles Dionne (Can) Canadian National Team, 17:39