Posted by Editoress on 06/14/14
Riders faced nine laps of a 14.5 kilometre circuit; although the first lap was neutralized, so there were only eight laps of racing. It rained pretty much through the entire stage; backing off on occasion, but never enough to dry the roads. From the start along the Grande Allee, riders dipped into the Plains of Abraham national park and back out to the Allee, before a sweeping right hand descent on an off-camber curve to the banks of the St-Lawrence. They then headed back along the river to the Old Town and hit the major feature of the race - a climb up Cote de la Montagne, passed the Chateau Frontenac and through the finish line. The climb starts out steep, with sections of 13%, then flattens slightly, but it is still all uphill for the final 1.5 kilometres of the circuit.
After a couple of abortive attempts to establish a break, five riders finally got clear on the fourth lap - Pinizzotto and Viesturs Luksevics (Amore), Talbot, Robbie Squire (Jamis Hagens Berman) and Bjorn Selander (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). A chase group containing David Williams (5Hr Energy), Oscar Clark (Hincapie Sportswear), Kris Dahl (Team SmartStop) and Kyle Buckosky (H&R Block) got to within 30 seconds of the leaders but couldn't quite close the gap and were eventually reabsorbed by the peloton.
The break was working well together and steadily increased the gap to a maximum of three minutes with three laps to go. Squire was the big danger; only 3:42 out of the leader's jersey and, as the gap hit three minutes, was up to a virtual second in the overall. Hincapie was setting tempo, but as Squire began to threaten Jelly Belly's Serghei Tvetcov in second on GC, that team sent a rider to the front to up the pace.
The gap began to come down in the final two and a half laps, and Pinizotto, Talbot and Squire dropped Selander and Luksevics, going into the final lap with a gap at over a minute, but dropping. Squire crashed after hitting a sewer grate, dashing his hopes of moving up, and the two remaining leaders came into the final 300 metres with the bunch bearing down on them.
Pinizotto had dropped Talbot on the final climb, and had enough time to raise his arms in the air as Amore Vita took their second stage win, with Talbot also just staying clear as Jure Kocjan (Team SmartStop) led home a group of 20.
Leonardo Pinizzotto (Amore Vita-Selle SMP) wins
"This is a victory that I have waited a long time for," said Pinizotto. "When I went with the break I felt that it was good, and I was confident I could win. And when our escape split, I was more confident. In Philadelphia it was not going too well for me, but at Saguenay I regularly found myself in the top ten ten."
"It's a bit frustrating not to have won the victory," admitted Talbot, "but that's bike racing, and Pinizotto is a better climber than me. I was confident of being able to go to the end with the break even if our lead had melted to less than two minutes. I wanted to go even harder because I knew the peloton was driving fast behind."
"It was not easy to control the peloton," commented Skujins, "because everyone was trying to leave on a breakaway. My crew did an amazing job because nobody helped us. Surely it will be the same for the last stage and we will redouble our efforts. I still have the energy and the whole team is motivated."
Mike Woods (Amore Vita-Selle SMP) was the top Canadian, finishing with the front group in 11th, which moved him up one spot to tenth in the overall standings. Other Canadians in that group were Rob Britton (Team SmartStop) in 14th, who retains fourth overall, Garrett McLeod (H&R Block) in 13th, and Ryan Roth (Silber Pro Cycling) in 21st.
"It was pretty filthy, pouring rain from the start," agreed Rob Britton, "so it was pretty stressful all day. We kind of dropped the ball, we missed the break, and then didn't catch first and second. Jure was third ... we're a bit disappointed, but happy to still be on the podium."
Britton is 13 seconds out of third and 26 seconds out of second, so he says the team will definitely be looking for chances to move up in the final stage tomorrow; another hard circuit race in St-Georges.