Posted by Editoress on 06/13/07
Tour de Beauce
Stage 2: Vallée-Jonction to Vallée-Jonction, 168km
Mark Walters (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) successfully retained the yellow jersey of race leader after stage two of the Tour de Beauce. A group of riders nine minutes down on the leaders was able to break away 40 kilometres into the race, with Glen Chadwick (Navigators) then soloing in the final 27 kilometres to win the stage.
The 171 kilometre second stage took place on a brand new circuit for the race, north of the race hub town of St-Georges. The stage opened with a KoM climb, which was guaranteed to cause some action among riders hoping to make up for missing the split in the field the day before. After that KoM it was mostly flat until the final 40 kilometres, when two more KoM climbs had to be conquered. However, 'mostly flat' at Beauce still means lots of rolling one kilometre climbs, plus a strong head and cross-wind for much of the race.
Walters and his team mates had to contend with multiple attacks by rivals to split the field and gain a time advantage on the race leader. A wild first 40 kilometres saw at least a dozen attacks, however, all either contained one or more of the 12 riders in contention, or were missing the presence of a key team. The rough and narrow roads also meant many flat tires and chasing, plus one crash.
"We had to cover a couple of moves, but my team mates did an awesome job of protecting me today." commented Walters. "So far, it is just a matter of keeping on defending the jersey day by day."
A group of nine riders did eventually break away from the field at the 40 kilometre mark, but all the riders were over 14 minutes behind Walters in the overall standings and not a threat to his lead. The break contained two Navigators (defending champion Valeriy Kobzarenko and Glen Chadwick), two Symmetrics (Cam Evans and Eric Wohlberg), Hector Rangel from Tecos, Charles Dionne (Team Quebec), Francois Parisien (Slipstream), Morten Christiansen (Farso Denmark) and Timo Honstein (Sparkasse).
While members of disparate teams will usually work well together in order to build a lead, this break struggled. The Symmetrics riders did not contribute, concerned about the presence of Kobzarenko and Chadwick, with the most difficult stage up Mont Megantic to come the next day.
"Basically, Kobzarenko and Chadwick were 1-2 on Megantic last year, so we didn't want them taking too much time. We knew they were dangerous, so we didn't do too much in the early part of the break." explained Evans. "It wasn't an ideal situation, but we did what we had to." (Editor's Note: Kobzarenko and Chadwick hit the base of Megantic 1-2, but Kobzarenko finished 3rd and Chadwick was 20th)
With only two-thirds of the break working steadily, it took a while to establish a gap, but by the 65 kilometre mark the spread between the Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada led peloton and the break was up over three minutes. It gradually crept up to over five minutes during the next 50 kilometres, but then started to drop as the race hit the final two KoMs, drifting below 4 minutes.
Chadwick made his move just after the final KoM of the day, with 28 kilometres remaining. His move benefited from indecision among the chasers: who was going to respond? When Wohlberg, Rangel and Parisien all made attempts to get across, everyone else in the group immediately latched onto them, and the impetus of the move collapsed each time.
"Navigators did a good job," commented Parisien. "The break was frustrating. Symmetrics wouldn't ride with Navigators there, then the Mexican (Rangel) wouldn't work ... When Chadwick went over the top of the GPM (KoM) I tried to get across to him, but everyone jumped on me and no one would work."
This allowed Chadwick to move 30 seconds clear, and he held that gap for nearly 20 kilometres before slowing slightly. However, it was enough to give him the win, finishing 14 seconds in front of the chase group, which was led home by Rangel, ahead of Parisien and Dionne.
"The break was hard to get established at first," explained Chadwick. "We kept attacking, but there was always one guy there who was on the GC. Finally, we got the right mix. But the break wasn't working well - I don't know why they (Symmetrics) wouldn't work. Valeriy was going for the KoM points (he eventually took the lead in the Climbers jersey competition), and he was looking for it to come down to a sprint, but I wanted to try something, so he said to have a go. It was a way out, but I could see that the others in the break were tired so it was worth a chance."
The peloton rolled in 5:24 later, with no changes to the General Classification for the top riders ... or was there?
Although all the riders from yesterday's break finished with the main peloton (and thus the same finishing time), it appears that the commissaires have rearranged the standings based on who finished ahead of whom in today's stage. Thus, Juan Magallanes (Tecos) jumps from eighth to sixth, replacing David O'Loughlin (Navigators) who drops to seventh. Danny Pate (Slipstream), who was seventh, goes to eighth, and Gregorio Ladino Vega (Tecos) pushes Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) out of tenth into eleventh. The commissaires were not available to explain this unusual calculation.
- Tomorrow is the big day - the stage that starts in St-Georges and ends on top of the only Category 1 climb in the race, to the top of Mont Megantic, the highest paved road in Quebec at 1120 metres. There is 261 metres of vertical gain in the final three kilometres, for an average gradient of nearly 9%. That comes after three other KoM climbs. Megantic always rearranges the General Classification significantly, although the time trial the next day could still have a significant impact on the standings.
- Francois Parisien is happy to be back on form after a year of knee troubles: "It was a really big war at the beginning of the stage before our break got away. It is nice to by on the podium again, after dealing with knee problems for the past year, I see this as a good sign for the national championships."
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