Posted by Editor on 03/30/04
Canadian Espoir Reports
La Roue Tourangelle - France
March 29th, 2004 - La Route Tourangelle, a 170 km race between Loches and Tours, lived up to its windswept reputation. Despite the powerful gusts, our espoirs put on a good show in a race dominated by crosswinds, echelons, and crashes.
For the first time this season we had all eight espoirs on the start line in Loches. Cory Jay has finally arrived in Europe, and Warren Tilbrook and Jean-Luc Pilote have recovered from their bouts of tendinitis. It was, however, no surprise to see Tilbrook and Pilote struggling early, as the conditions were hardly ideal for a gentle return to competition. The same applied to Jay, who was still getting over his jet lag.
Christian Meier was involved in a crash after just 10 km of racing, and spent his time chasing in the caravan. To add to his misery, each time he was about to make it back into the peleton he found himself behind yet another crash and despite his fighting spirit his race was over after 60 km.
Up front, the race had already exploded under pressure from the Russian Moscou City Sport team, the Italians of US Pallarzago (led by an extremely aggressive Domenico Agosta), Sébasien Minard of Nogent and former junior world champion Arnaud Gérard, to name a few.
Having missed the front echelon, our five survivors found themselves in the second group nearly two minutes down. As the crosswinds whittled the main group down, Chris Isaac, Brandon Chrichton and Bradley Fairall managed to hang in, while Jay and Dustin MacBurnie dropped back to the third group. In the final phases of the race, run over the small climbs used in the Paris-Tours classic, Crichton showed he had some punch left by slipping into a small group fighting for 20th place. It was a tough day, but all signs are favourable leading into the next few races.
Grand Prix de Waregem (Espoir World Challenge Series) - Belgium
March 30th, 2004 - In Waregem, Belgium, our espoirs entered another world : Flanders and its legendary cobblestoned "bergs". The experience was a positive one. The Grand Prix de Waregem is no less than an espoir World Cup race, run over some tough terrain, including many of the climbs made famous by such professional races as the Tour of Flanders, Het Volk and Dwars Door Vlaanderen. For just the fourth race in our team's schedule, the jump up in level was a little high, so going into the event it was tough to say how it would go, especially for the younger riders. As a result, it was a happy surprise to see our espoirs in the thick of the action in their first taste of this chaotic style of racing. The riders didn't let themselves be intimidated by the conditions and each of them gave the maximum their current level of fitness and race craft would allow.
Warren Tilbrook - who was filling in for Brandon Crichton, sidelined by a sore Achilles tendon - stopped after 110 km, and Christian Meier was held up by a crash but almost made it back into the peloton on the finishing circuit, in the company of Bradley Fairall who had suffered an ill-timed puncture (but in Flanders, there is no good time to puncture ...)
On a more positive note, Dustin MacBurnie used his mountain biking experience to good advantage on the cobbled roads to have a good ride, and Cory Jay looked very comfortable in only his second race. After a mechanical problem after 86 km at the base of the Knokteberg (where he hit Chris Isaac's rear wheel), Jay showed his class on the medieval cobbled climb of the Oude Kwaremont and climbed the Kalkhoveberg and the Patersberg (a 14 per cent climb) like a bullet. In the end, he came within 10 metres of latching onto the lead group, which Isaac also missed. Isaac is now riding very consistently, but we are waiting for him to step up a little more.
To finish the day, we were able to watch the finish of the professional Dwars Door Vlaanderen, and cheer on Michael Barry (49th) and Franck Pencole (5th). Pencole is the son of Ginette and Christian Pencole, our hosts at the Moulin de la Croiselle near Conches. You can no doubt guess what that evening's conversation at the Moulin was about ...
1 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) 3:51:00
2 Sébastien Minard (Fra)
3 Benjamin Vanherzeele (Bel)
57 Jay Cory (Can) at 1:48
66 MacBurnie Dustin (Can)
72 Isaac Chris (Can)
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