Posted by Editoress on 06/12/07
Tour de Beauce
Photos: Part one
Mark Walters (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) took his first victory in more than two seasons on the opening day of the Tour de Beauce with an extremely bold solo breakaway from the lead group after 158 kilometres of racing. Walters' team mate Dominique Rollin, the Canadian national champion, took the 10 rider sprint for second, while the original break initiator Jacob Erker (Symmetrics) took third, giving Canada a sweep of the podium.
The 171 kilometre Lac Etchmin stage is a classic Beauce race: long, steady and constant climbs, rough roads and steady wind. Temperatures approaching 30 degrees (Celcius) also sapped energy from riders as the stage wore on.
After a few aborted attempts, Jean-Sebastien Beland (VW-Trek) established a gap 15 kilometres into the race. Beland's gap would eventually grow to more than eight minutes, but that was due more to lack of interest by the peloton then his efforts.
The peloton finally came to life at the first King of the Mountain (KoM), at 69 kilometres. The pace over the top split the field, and then Jacob Erker attacked, which initiated what would become the winning move. "I used the old 'attack when you are feeling bad' tactic. If I had waited though, there is no way I could have held on when it did go."
An initial group of 16 formed at the front, including four Navigators (Glen Chadwick, Ben Day, David O'Loughlin and Oleg Grishkin), two each from Team Sparkasse (Andreas Schillinger, Philipp Mamos), Symmetrics (Erker, Svein Tuft), Tecos (Gregorio Ladino Vega, Juan Magallanes), Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada (Walters, Rollin), plus Danny Pate (Slipstream), Craig McCarney (Savings and Loan), Dominique Perras (Team Quebec) and Soren Petersen (Farso Denmark).
Grishkin was dropped early, and Chadwick eventually was dropped also, leaving a core group of 14 riders. This was a very serious move, with all of the top teams represented, and initially the peloton worked hard to bring it back, but gradually faltered as the break begin to work smoothly together.
The gap grew to over four minutes by the third KoM, and a chase group formed over the third KoM, consisting of defending Beauce champion Valeriy Kobzarenko (Navigators), Chadwick, Dirk Muller (Sparkasse), Francois Parisien (Slipstream), Andrew Randell (Symmetrics), Hector Rangel (Tecos) and Jacob Nielsen (Farso Denmark). This group would gain 50 seconds on the peloton, and move to within nearly three minutes of the lead group before losing impetus and sliding back to the peloton.
At the front, the former allies were starting to attack each other, with Rollin being particularly aggressive. None of the efforts bore fruit, but did serve to keep the speed up, and further tire the leaders, setting the stage for Walters' successful escape.
Nielsen was the first to get dropped from the lead group (falling back to the chasers), and then McCarney disappeared, and finally Soresen, leaving 11 at the front. Svein Tuft had a scare with about 25 kilometres to when "I hit a boulder in the road, right when the attacks were all happening. Jake covered everything while I got my (rear) wheel changed and came back, but I was pretty screwed after that for doing anything."
Walters made his move with 12 kilometres to go, and one big climb left. "Everyone had sat up at that moment, there was a bit of a lull after some attacks. Everyone just got a little lazy, which is what happens when you start to get tired. It was right at the bottom of a hill, and I got clear."
A Tecos rider chased initially, but Walters was riding smoothly and powerfully, and went 20 seconds, and then 30 seconds clear as everyone looked at each other.
"You just have to keep trying and trying and trying. It hurt so much for those last 12 kilometres, but it was the same for everyone chasing. This win is very important. I've had a couple of tough years with health problems, so this is really big for me after such a dry spell."
Over the top of the last climb before descending back into Lac Etchemin, Tecos tried again to bring back Walters, with Pate joining them, but did not have the power, leaving the two-time national road champion to roll across the line 26 seconds in front of the chasers. Rollin came by Danny Pate in the final 300 metres to take second, with Erker on his wheel. The peloton rolled in 14 minutes back.
- Tomorrow's 171 kilometre stage is new to Beauce, with two Sprints and three KoM's (2 Cat. 2 climbs and 1 cat. 3).
- Walters holds a 27 second lead over Rollin (with bonuses), and Erker is at 32 seconds. However, the first 11 riders are all within 36 seconds of the lead. Rollin holds the White Points jersey, Ladino Vega the Climber's jersey and Rob Britton (La-Z Boy) the U23 jersey. Five riders did not make the extended 15% of the winners time cutoff and were eliminated.
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