Canadian Cyclist


September 16/98 9:15 am - Canadian Win in Japan!

Posted by Editor on 09/16/98

(courtesy Kris Westwood)

19-year old Charles Dionne brought the Canadian team their first stage win for the 1998 edition of the Tour of Hokkaido. The whole team worked together for the success, apart from Matt Hansen who was forced to quit after a crash on a rain-soaked descent.

The view out of the hotel window in Hakodate this morning was a gloomy one, with the sun obscured by heavy rain, dark skies and very strong wind. These conditions added to the difficulty of today‚s 178 km stage over three small mountain passes. Fortunately, it was not too cold and though a typhoon was forecast - there was even talk of shortening the stage - the conditions did not worsen during the race.

The field rolled out of the sea port town of Hakodate and headed north towards Kitahiyama, famous for its hot springs. The first difficulty of the stage, the Nakayama Pass (350 m) was only 37 km from the start. There were many shortlived attacks in the first few kilometres, but the bunch rolled over the pass intact, although a few riders were dropped. The next 60 km of the course were exposed to the wind along the coast, but no breakaway group was able to gain more than 20 seconds, and the pack was still together when it reached the feed zone, at the foot of the Unseki Pass (410 m), 78 km from the finish. This climb proved to be a lot tougher than it appeared to be on the course profile, and a number of riders started to struggle and drop off the back. One kilometre before the top of the pass Matt Hansen (CAN) found himself in difficulty and fell back in a small dropped group with an American rider.

At the front of the race two riders were forcing the pace, Hisafumi Imanishi (JAP, Shimano) and Ryoheh Suzuki (JAP, Chuo Univ.). They quickly built up a lead in the last part of the climb and rocketed down the other side. The rain made the road slippery and a Japanese rider crashed in one of the turns and took Matt Hansen down with him. Matt hit the guardrail quite hard, bruising his leg and face and scraping an elbow. Though dazed by his crash he wanted to continue but his bike was too badly damaged and as he was quite far back he was not able to get a spare one. Disappointed, he climbed into the broom wagon.

In the meantime, the break had built up a lead of over three minutes. This was not to last, however, as the Nippon Hodo team started to chase. The time gap only really started to come down, however, when all four remaining Canadian riders joined in the chase. The climb over the Yakumo-Imakane Pass (370 m), the last difficulty of the day, saw a few more riders dropped from the main bunch, but no change at the front, and by 15 km to go the last breakaway had been caught. Nobody was able to get away after that, and Charles Dionne of the Canadian team placed himself well through the last corner in the finishing sprint and took the stage win ahead of In-Chan Park (KOR) and Bong-Min Kim (KOR).

The stage was marked by the excellent riding, in spite of the rain, of the Canadian team, who placed a man in every important breakaway except one, which they chased down. Dionne also secured a time bonus in an intermediate sprint. Despite Matt Hansen‚s ill fortune things are looking pretty good for the team. We have the points jersey, three riders in the top fifteen overall and our first stage win.

Tomorrow will be a difficult day, because the stage ends with a 14 km climb followed by a 16 km descent to the finish line. The gaps should start getting bigger . . .

Stage 1

1 CHARLES DIONNE (CAN) 178 km in 4h20‚00" (avs. 41.1 km/h)
2 I-C. Park (KOR)
3 B-M. Kim (KOR)
4 T. Mizutani (JAP, Nippon Hodo)
5 T-H. Kim (KOR)
6 C. Power (IRL)
7 J. Shibuya (JAP, Bridgestone)
8 A. Bernard (CAN) . . . all same time

94 riders started, 83 finished


1 TAKEHIRO MIZUTANI (JAP, Nippon Hodo) 4h22‚09"
2 C. Dionne (CAN) at 2"
3 P. Mauduit (FRA, Nippon Hodo) at 4"
4 S. Suzuki (JAP, Inoac-Deki) at 5"


2 T. Mizutani (JAP, Nippon Hodo) 25 pts.
3 I-C. Park (KOR) 20 pts.

8 A. Bernard (CAN)


2 S. Suzuki (JAP, Bridgestone);
3; O. Sumida (JAP, Shimano)

8 C. Dionne (CAN)
11 A. Bernard (CAN)

Stage: 1st Korea; 2nd Canada; 3rd Miyata Subaru
Overall: 1st Nippon Hodo; 2nd Inoac-Deki; 3rd Korea; 4th Canada (19 teams)


Stage / Overall

Alexandre Lavalée 30th (same time as winner) / 14th at 11"
Pascal Choquette 38th (s. t.) / 11th at 11"
Matt Hansen DNF / -
Charles Dionne WINNER / 2nd at 2 "
Alexandre Bernard 8th (s.t.) / 30th at 16"

Manager: Kris Westwood
Mechanic: Bruno Roy
Masseuse:Karine Jaouen


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