Posted by Editoress on 06/15/06
Tour de Beauce Quebec
Stage 3 Photos
Stefan Parinussa (Team Sparkasse) managed to hold onto the yellow jersey after the crucial third stage of the Tour de Beauce, however, his lead over former leader Valeriy Kobzarenko (Navigators) was reduced by three-quarters, and Kobzarenko's team mate Sergey Lagutin won the stage and also moved into contention. Danny Pate (TIAA-CREF) continues to impress; finishing fourth on the stage, and moving up one place in GC to fourth.
The third stage of Beauce is considered to be the Queen stage - finishing atop Mont Megantic after a five kilometre climb that averages close to 12%, with at least two one kilometre sections of over 13%. To add to the difficulty, this year a strong headwind blew the riders around on any flatter or open sections of the climb.
Usually, a break forms early in the 153 kilometre stage, with the members hoping to open up enough of a time gap to hold on to the finish line. Occasionally, one or two riders manage to stay clear, but usually the top contenders gobble them up by the halfway mark on the climb and battle it out for the stage victory and, more importantly, valuable seconds in the GC fight.
Parinussa's Sparkasse team set a stiff pace in the early going, discouraging breakaway efforts. But Navigators, smarting from losing the jersey the day before after some miscommunication allowed a break to sneak away, wanted to put the pressure on.
"I saw that the (Sparkasse) team was having some trouble controlling on the climbs, so we attacked on the second KoM" said Kobzarenko. "I went with my team mate (Glen Chadwick) and we wanted to see if we could get a big gap before the climb."
While the duo's gap did reach over three minutes, it was back down to just over a minute when Kobzarenko dropped the workhorse Chadwick and attacked the final climb.
But Navigators had a backup plan - Lagutin. The winner of the Commerce Triple Crown the previous weekend, was sitting on, marking Parinussa, as attrition thinned the chase group. Finally, with two kilometres to go, he attacked the remaining half dozen and quickly caught Kobzarenko.
Lagutin briefly slowed to try and tow his team mate, but Kobzarenko was struggling mightily - and Gregorio Ladino Vega (Tecos Trek Vh) was coming up behind. So the Uzbeki rider pushed on to take the stage win, and move to within 37 seconds of Parinussa. Ladino Vega overtook Kobzarenko for second, but the Ukrainian's third place moved him to within 32 seconds of Parinussa - down from 1:58 at the start of the day. Parinussa managed tenth, 1:32 down on Lagutin.
- Tomorrow is a double stage day, with a 15 kilometre time trial in the morning, and a 60 kilometre circuit race in the evening. The time trial could see Kobzarenko and Lagutin move even closer to Parinussa. Particularly, since the Sparkasse team doesn't have any time trial equipment...
- Parinussa is coming back from three years out of the pro peloton, and his team is also in the midst of a big expansion; trying to move from a regional squad to an international one. The race leader recently won two stages in the Fleche du Sud (Luxembourg) and finished seventh overall in the Tour of Mallorca. He called today's climb "the biggest and hardest I have ever done."
- There was a rather bizarre occurrence today for David O'Loughlin of the Navigators squad. The Irish rider dropped back to the medical car for some assistance (saddle sore related), and the car drifted rather far back from the fast moving peloton while helping him. Afterwards, team manager Ed Beamon says that he gave some pacing assistance to help O'Loughlin regain the pack, but O'Loughlin flatted. Once that was dealt with ("slow service from Mavic" according to Beamon), O'Loughlin was hanging on to the team vehicle while getting his brakes adjusted. Now this is where it gets strange. Beamon (and O'Loughlin) insist that the officials disqualified O'Loughlin, kicking him out of the race. However, officials say that O'Loughlin "abandoned", and the results show him as a DNF. So which is it?
- Mark Walters (Navigators) was again the top Canadian finisher, in 18th place, and sits 14th overall. "I'm feeling more secure in the jersey after today, and feel confident that I can hold onto it. Yesterday and the day before we had to do a lot of work to support our top rider, Valeriy (Kobzarenko), but today I could conserve my energy in the pack and wait for the climb."
- A lot of Canadian riders are rather rundown after racing pretty well continuously for the last month. Svein Tuft says that his Symmetrics team mates who raced in El Salvador also seem to have picked up some sort of low grade infection - Tuft has a respiratory problem requiring antibiotics. Hopefully they can get healthy for the Nationals in a couple of weeks...
- Tuft says that everyone in the peloton is asking "where is Eric?" - Wohlberg, that is. Wohlberg is in B.C. to race the Westside Classic, an important race for some team sponsors. Svein says Eric is not "missing" Beauce - how many years did you race Beauce, Eric? Must be a record...
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