Posted by Editor on 06/16/07
Stage five of the Tour de Beauce may have been relatively short at 125 kilometres, but that certainly didn't make it easier. Ian MacGregor gave Slipstream their first stage win with a last gasp stagger across the line just in front of Andreas Schillinger (Team Sparkasse) and Jesse Anthony (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada). Yellow jersey holder Ben Day was well protected by his Navigator team mates, and rolled across the line in ninth place, closely followed by Danny Pate (Slipstream) and Svein Tuft (Symmetrics), who are third and second respectively on GC.
Moving to the provincial capital of Quebec City, this stage took the riders along the upper portion of the St Lawrence Escarpment before dropping down beside the river and heading back east to climb back up through the historic and picturesque Old Town back to the finish, at an average grade of nearly 10%. With nine climbs, the riders weren't paying much attention to the sights.
A group of six non-GC contenders jumped almost from the gun, which likely suited Navigators. Stefan Parinussa (Team Sparkasse), Francois Parisien (Team Slipstream), David Pell (Savings And Loans Cycling Team), Ryan Mckenzie (Volkswagen Trek), Martin Gilbert (Quebec) and Christian Meier (Symmetrics) headed away before the first descent, and were 45 seconds up by the first climb.
The gap grew to 1:10 by the second lap, when Pan American champion Gilbert was shed. The rest of the break was working fairly well together, but a strong headwind along the upper portion of the course made it unlikely that a small group would gain much time, and they never went over a 1:35 lead.
The KoM points on lap four spelled doom for the group, with the Tecos team going to the front from the base of the climb to bring up Climbers competition leader Gregorio Ladino Vega.
However, a lap later a new break had formed, containing Cameron Evans (Symmetrics), Schillinger, MacGregor, John Fredy Parra Calada (Tecos Trek Vh), Matt Guse (Calyon-Litespeed), Jacob Nielsen (Farso Denmark National) and Anthony.
This group integrated well, and quickly went a minute clear. However, they stuck at this time gap, and by the start of the last lap were starting to falter. Nielsen decided to try for a long solo move, jumping away at the start of the last lap and gaining 12 seconds by the bottom of the descent. The chasers reeled him in with five kilometres to go, and then two-time U.S. Espoir champion MacGregor decided to make his own make-or-break attempt with three kilometres remaining. All six of the breakaways manage to stave off elimination, with MacGregor barely able to lift one arm in celebration as he rolled across the line.
"Uphill into a headwind ... very tough" commented MacGregor. "It is one of the hardest days, even thought it is short. Tecos brought back the first break, but Navigators were willing to let us go again. There were already five or six guys away when I bridged. After we caught (Nielsen), everyone sort of hesitated, so I attacked. I was going for broke - either first or last."
In the peloton, Navigators was in complete control, and delivered Day to a perfect position to defend his jersey on the final climb. "We tried to keep a consistent pace at the front, and I think it helped that everyone in the peloton is getting tired."
"Of course I was concerned about the last climb; two years ago Nathan (O'Neill) opened it up on the bottom of this climb on the last lap and took the jersey away from Tuft, so we had to think about that. I had Sergey (Lagutin) and the guys to accelerate at the bottom and put me in good position for the last K and a half. I think we just showed everyone how strong we are."
Tuft would certainly agree: "I was just able to come in with him, because he hit it pretty hard on that final climb. This is a hard circuit, and those guys are frigging strong. We'll keep on trying tomorrow, but Navigators looks pretty good right now."
- Yesterday (Friday) evening a 40 lap, 60 kilometre criterium stage was held in downtown St-Georges. Despite numerous breakaway attempts (the last caught with one lap to go), the stage came down to a sprint, with Oleg Grishkin giving Navigators its fourth consecutive stage win, ahead of Dominique Rollin (Kodak Gallery) and Keven Lacombe (VW-Trek)
- Overheard this morning. "They put up photos of all the Canadian riders only. Well, it is in our name...
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