Posted by Editoress on 07/4/12
Jean-François Laroche (Fantino Mondello-Cycle Régis) raised his arms in victory Tuesday evening at the finish of the fifth event of the Mardis Cyclistes presented by Jean Coutu bicycle races. Laroche won in an exciting bunch sprint, just ahead of Stephen Keeping (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery) in second and and Erik Lyman (Team Spirit p/b Euro-Sport) in third. Although Laroche won the 10 stage series in 2011, this was his first stage victory of 2012. There were 93 cyclists on the start line ton the evening.
photo: Pasquale Stalteri
If Laroche and his Fantino team were the big winners, it was series leader Jean-Samuel Deshaies (Ekoï-Gaspésien) and his team who were the big losers. Deshaies now clings onto a razor-thin 14 point lead in cumulative points halfway through the 2012 Mardis series.
“We put the clockwork back in order with this first win,” said Laroche. “The Ekoi-Gaspesien team might have had twice as many cyclists in the pack, but it is experience that makes the difference. I hope that our success does not deflate them and that we will have a tight contest until the last stage.” The weather was muggy, but it was a rare Tuesday evening without rain and Laroche added that, “The dry conditions this evening were perfect for us."
Stephen Keeping also thanked his team mates for ending up on the podium. "My team did good work to keep me in front all through the race. For the last lap, I simply stayed on Laroche’s wheel because he is very fast in sprints.” Keeping, a Nova Scotia native, tasted the first Mardis podium of his career.
Lyman’s third place finish was all that more impressive because he had no team mates to support him this evening. “And I hope that I will still be stepping up on podiums next year after I turn 40,” Lyman remarked.
The biggest star of the evening, however, was François Parisien (SpiderTech p/b C10) who led or attempted breaks on the second, 10th, 12th, 19th, 22th and 28th laps to roars from spectators. Parisien, who is training for races in Europe, was leading with one lap to go, but got swallowed by the peloton on the last lap and finished far back in the pack.
In a short ceremony before the senior men’s race, the Mardis organisation honoured Lachine Mayor Claude Dauphin, making him an official ambassador of the bike races. Dauphin will in fact be sharing the position with businessman Bernard Trottier who founded the ski retail chain bearing his name. “No, I’m not afraid of the competition,” joked Trottier. “In fact, Claude and I work well together. The ambassador’s main job is to find monies to support the races. I played a role in bringing title sponsor Jean Coutu aboard, but Claude played a bigger role there.”
For the women, it was Elisabeth Albert (Rocky Mountain Forget Aubin) and Catherine Couture (independent) finishing first and second.
The next Mardis Cyclistes takes place Tuesday, July 10, around LaSalle Park in the Montreal borough of Lachine. The races are free to watch and free parking is available.
1 Jean-François Laroche (Fantino-Régis)
2 Stephen Keeping (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery)
3 Erik Lyman (Team Spirit p/b Euro-Sport)
1 Elisabeth Albert (Rocky Mountain Forget Aubin)
2 Catherine Couture (independent)
Men's Standings after 5 of 10 races
1 Jean-Samuel Deshaies (Ekoï-Gaspésien) 425 pts
2 Jean-François Laroche (Fantino Mondello-Cycle Régis) 411
3 Stephen Keeping (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery) 347
4 Maxime Vivès (Garneau-Québecor) 285
5 Hugues Lapointe (Cycle Neron LaPrairie) 281
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