Posted by Editoress on 06/20/19
The Tour de Beauce saw a lead change on Stage 2, with Nick Zukowsky (Floyd's Pro Cycling) moving into the Yellow Jersey after a day of hard climbing and wet conditions. Defending Beauce champion James Piccoli (Team Canada) rode himself back into contention with his stage win at the top of the Mont Megantic climb.
James Piccoli winning
New leader Nick Zukowsky
Canada put five riders in the top ten on the stage, with Adam Roberge (Team Canada) finishing fifth, Zukowsky sixth, first year Under-23 rider Ben Katerberg (Team BC) seventh and Pier-Andre Cote (Rally UHC) in ninth. On the General Classification, Canadians are first (Zukowsky), second (Piccoli), eighth (Roberge), ninth (Katerberg) and tenth (Cote).
The 169 kilometre stage from the town of Lac-Megantic to the five kilometre finishing climb up Mont Megantic is considered the Queen stage of the Tour, with five KoM climbs on the stage. This year, riders also had to contend with heavy rain through the middle part of the race, plus fog and light rain at the top of the climb.
Rally UHC's Tyler Magner was in the Yellow Jersey after Stage 1, which he won in a sprint over Zukowsky. Both Rally and Floyd's tried to control the action, but with little success, as break attempts kept rolling off the front of the peloton on the hilly course.
By the 60 kilometre mark a group of 33 riders had opened a gap on the main field, with neither Magner or Zukowsky in the front group. Floyd's went to the front to control the gap, but it reached nearly two minutes before the group began to fall apart on the climbs. Ten riders stayed clear, while a group of 20 containing most of the top contenders formed behind. The final remnants of the break were only caught just before the base of the climb, with a group of 32 together at the base.
Piccoli leading on the climb
The weather took a toll
Piccoli came off the wheel of team mate Adam Roberge in the first 500 metres of the opening steep section of the climb to set a tempo that quickly splintered the bunch. Kyle Murphy (Rally UHC) tried to follow Piccoli, while a chase group containing Magner, Zukowsky and his team mates Serghei Tvetcov and Keegan Swirbul formed behind.
Piccoli continued to set a pace that no one could follow, with Murphy sitting second and the three Floyd's riders dropping the Yellow Jersey. In the final 1500 metres before the summit, Swirbul left his team mates and began chasing Piccoli down, catching and dropping Murphy but falling nine seconds short of Piccoli at the line.
"That was the planning coming into the race today," said Piccoli, referring to his attack of the climb. "The guys did all they could to keep it together at the foot of the climb, because we knew that was my best chance of winning the stage and taking some time on GC. It was really aggressive all day, but the boys did an unbelievable job of rolling it back together. So, it was really nice to be able to do it for them."
Zukowsky finished sixth, 50 seconds back, with Magner tenth, and 1:30. Zukowsky moved into the lead with a 33 second advantage over Piccoli, while Magner fell to third at 36 seconds and Swirbul moved up to fourth at 42 seconds.
"I was able to manage the gap at the end," said Zukowsky. "James was super strong today, so I'm really happy to come away with the Jersey. The team was really strong today, with three finishing in the top six, so we still have a bunch of cards to play for the rest of the race. It's looking good so far."
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