Posted by Editor on 06/17/07
The 22nd edition of the Tour de Beauce ended today with Navigators taking their third consecutive victory, as Australian Ben Day easily held off last ditch attempts by second placed Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) and Danny Pate (Slipstream) to put him in difficulty. The stage was won by veteran Soren Petersen (Farso Denmark), who unsportingly outsprinted breakaway companion Christian Meier (Symmetrics), after letting Meier pull for the final 34 kilometres.
The final stage of Beauce always takes place in the host town of St-Georges. It is by no means a parade stage, with 12 laps of a tough 12.5 kilometre circuit, with a nasty two kilometre climb early in each lap. To make matters worse, after a week of near perfect weather, the rain began to come down shortly after the stage started, making riders cautious on the multiple corners they faced during the descent.
The final three KoM sprints took place on laps 3, 7 and 11, and effectively scuppered than chances of any break staying away, since Tecos were vigilant in making sure they protected the Climbers jersey of Gregorio Ladino Vega. After the first KoM a break of seven riders got away, establishing a gap of 35 seconds. The break had the horsepower to succeed, with Dirk Muller (Sparkasse), Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics), Lars Wackernagel (Sparkasse), Cam Evans (Symmetrics), John Fredy Parra Calada (Tecos), Greg Reain (Calyon-Litespeed), Buck Miller (Team R.A.C.E.) and Ivor Bruin (Farso Denmark), but shortly before the next KoM they were reeled in.
It was after this, during the attacks and counterattacks that invariably take place when a break is caught, that Meier slipped away, and was joined by Petersen. The two stayed away for the remainder of the race, finishing a minute and a half in front by the finish, after taking their lead up to nearly three minutes at one point.
Petersen stayed behind the 22 year old Meier the entire time - save one 10 second burst at the front on the flat, and the final jump on Meier with 200 metres to go. His actions were so blatant that even local television asked him why he rode that way.
"It is not the way I like to race, but I am still pleased to win," stated the 39 year old. Petersen also claimed that Meier never 'asked' him to work...
"It took five or six attacks to get away," said Meier, "then Petersen bridged up to me. He never took a single pull, he kept saying that he was 'too tired' to help. Then he sprints me at the line."
"It's still a pretty good result, but I would have really liked the win. This year I've had lots of seconds and thirds, but I'm still looking for that first win."
As a consolation prize, Meier took over the Red Jersey of U23 rider from team mate Cam Evans.
Meanwhile, race leader Ben Day's Navigator team mates were keeping close control on the peloton, not giving either Tuft or Pate the chance to open a gap on Day. It wasn't until the last climb that Pate unleashed a massive effort to try and drop Day, but Day was right there, with his faithful lieutenant Glen Chadwick. Over the crest of the climb, Tuft made his attempt, but Day quickly brought him back, and then finished fourth on the stage, just behind Ladino Vega.
"This is the first time I've had to face the pressure of holding the yellow jersey in a race for a few days, and I am really glad that I was able to come through," Day commented. "I have such a strong team here ... Svein and Danny both tried, but I actually didn't to do too much. Chaddy (Chadwick) was able to cover Pate, and I covered Svein. There is only one winner, but there were six guys working for it."
- Day hopes that this result is the start of a successful campaign to make the Australian Worlds team and, ultimately, the Olympic squad.
- Tuft has now finished second to two Australians at Beauce, both on Navigators - Nathan O'Neill in 2005, and Day this year. "We had a good game plan, but Navigators is a really strong team. I gave it everything I had, but sometimes another guy is just better. All-in-all, the team rode awesome all week, so I can't complain about finishing second."
Tuft figures that his second place should help him retain the white jersey for the leader of Americas UCI Continental Tour.
- Special thanks to our correspondents for this final stage - Eric Robertson and Dustin MacBurnie of Team R.A.C.E., who dragged themselves from their sickbeds after their crash on stage three to provide updates during the race.
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