Posted by Editoress on 06/15/16
Mikhel Raim (Cycling Academy) took the biggest win of his pro career on Wednesday at the opening stage of the 31st edition of the Tour de Beauce. Raim was part of a race-long break that held off the field, and outkicked U.S. champion Greg Daniel (Axeon Hagens Berman) and Chad Beyer (Lupus) for the win. Ryan Roth (Silber) was the top Canadian in seventh place, second in the field sprint.
Mikhel Raim (Cycling Academy) wins
"We joined the breakaway a little bit after it started," explained Raim. "It was a long day at the office, but I think we raced very smart at the front. We didn't go full gas, we took the climbs easily and went hard on the flat. They [peloton] started panicking at the end, but we had a tailwind, and we knew that if we had four minutes after the circuits, we were going to make it. I think it might be my best victory."
The 185 kilometre stage featured strong winds and the usual Beauce climbs. Riders headed out 30 kilometres from the town of St-Georges to a 14.7 kilometre circuit for eight laps, before returning to their starting point, for a final 200 metre uphill finish. The circuit was dominated by a 15% climb through the village of St-Odilon.
Attacks began in the first five kilometres, and three riders finally broke free 20 kilometres into the stage - Guy Sagiv (Cycling Academy), Canada's Danick Vandale (H&R Block) and Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko/Citadel p/b Hincapie). The gap to the field hovered around the one minute mark as they entered the circuit, but then began to grow.
A chase group of four bridged up on the second lap, containing Raim, Daniel, Beyer and Dan Craven (Cycling Academy), put three riders from the Israeli team in the front. The peloton was disinclined to chase, and the gap stretched out to seven minutes by lap five.
At this point, Team Canada, Rally Cycling and Silber all started to up the tempo, but the other strong team, Jelly Belly held back. The break began to shed riders; first Vandale and then, as they turned to head back to town, Sagiv. the gap was coming down, but slowly, at nearly five minutes with 30 kilometres to go, and a tailwind to assist the leaders.
"The guys were strong at the front," said Ryan Anderson (Team Canada), who finished 19th, " but I think that some of the teams just waited a bit too long until they really committed to the chase. Rally and Silber committed with us, but the big one that missed out today was Jelly Belly. At the end they did a lot of work, but not all the way back. It's my first Tour de Beauce and I would have liked a crack at the first stage, but I think there are more good stages for me to come."
Jelly Belly finally added their horsepower, and the gap began to shrink more rapidly, but it was becoming apparent that the chasers had left it too late. With 10 kilometres to go it was 2:30, and still 90 seconds with three kilometres left.
The finish was a high speed right hand turn into an immediate climb to the finish line. Raim came through the corner first after a leadout from his team mate Craven and powered to the finish, with Daniel on his wheel but unable to come around. The bunch finished 1:16 back.
"It was good that I was able to get in the break and make it stick," said Daniel. "That's more the kind of racer I am, a breakaway specialist. We had such a big cushion at the end that we were able to make it stick. I got pushed a little bit wide in the last corner, but he just had the jump on me and I could not come around. He had a very good sprint, a good kick, and congrats to him."
Raim will go into stage 2 with both the leader's Yellow jersey and the white Points jersey. Krasilnikau, one point back, will wear it on Stage 2. Daniel, five seconds back after a time bonus to Raim, holds the Red jersey for Best Young Rider, while Beyer leads the KoM competition.
Stage 2, the Queen Stage of Beauce, will likely completely overhaul the standings, after finishing up the five kilometre climb to Mont Megantic.