Posted by Editoress on 06/23/19
Once again, the final stage of the Tour de Beauce proved to be the decisive one, with Brendan Rhim (Arapahoe/Hincapie p/b BMC) vaulting up from fourth to first in a race that came down to the final kilometre after 644 kilometres of racing. Diego Milan (Inteja IMCA-Ridea) won the final stage ahead of Rhim.
Defending champion James Piccoli (Team Canada) took second overall and Nickolas Zukowsky (Floyd's Pro Cycling) was third. In all, there were five Canadians in the top-10 for the final GC.
The 12 laps of the 10.2 kilometre urban circuit through the host town of Saint-Georges has, more often than not, led to an upset in the final standings. Dominated by the main climb of two kilometres, the course is also filled with twists and turns through residential streets, making it extremely difficult for any team to control.
This edition had one of the tightest groupings at the top of the GC in recent years, with Nickolas Zukowsky (Floyd's Pro Cycling) leading Tyler Magner (Rally UHC) by a mere 0.97 seconds, followed by Zukowsky's team mate Serghei Tvetcov at six seconds, Rhim at ten seconds and defending champion James Piccoli (Team Canada) at 14 seconds.
Rally UHC started the action by sending Pier-Andre Cote up the road on the second lap. He was joined by five other riders, including team mate Adam De Vos and Milan. Cote was 1:31 down on Zukowsky, and became the virtual leader of the race when the gap went over two minutes. Floyd's did not panic, setting a steady tempo to limit the damage.
As the dwindling bunch began to reel in the break, Milan stayed away and was joined by Rhim's team mate Ben Wolfe on the fourth to last time up the climb. Rhim then jumped across with a group containing Piccoli, Keegan Swirbul (Floyd's Pro Cycling) and Stage 4 winner Griffin Easter (303 Project) as the race began three laps to go.
Unfortunately for Rally UHC, Magner cracked, leaving them with Kyle Murphy as their best placed rider, 53 seconds down. The gap between the six leaders and the Yellow Jersey group was 30 seconds, putting Rhim and Piccoli both ahead of Zukowsky. The Yellow Jersey went to the front of the chase, which was down to six riders with no team mates for Zukowsky. On the last lap, the chasers managed to bring the gap down to 15 seconds at one point, but then it climbed back to over 30 seconds on the efforts of Piccoli and Wolfe.
Milan took an uncontested stage win over Rhim, with Piccoli coming in fourth, to move into second overall. Zukowsky finished seventh, 37 seconds back, to drop him to third in the final standings. In addition to Yellow, Rhim also took the Points Jersey, while Zukowsky won the Best Young Rider jersey. Floyd's also won the Team GC, and Oscar Sanchez (Canel's Specialized) won the Climber's Jersey.
"The team plan for the day, and the team plan for the week, was to wait for this stage," said Rhim. "Our team director [Thomas Craven] has always told us that the last day is when the race is won. So, the plan the whole week was wait, wait, wait, wait. The idea in the second half of the race was to get some of our strong guys - Ben being one of them - and bridge up to them; we had some good company with James [Piccoli] and we all worked really well together and were just able to hold off the chasers. This is definitely my biggest win ever; I've never won a big stage race like this - this is the longest and hardest stage race I've ever won."
Zukowsky, who wore the Yellow jersey from Stage 2, said "to be fair, I think we raced pretty well today. My team was super strong and we took control of the race. It looked good until about two laps to go, when we missed James and Rhim going up the road. I was still confident that we could bring it back with Serghei, but I think we were short on a bit of gas. I gave it everything had today, and I can only be happy - at 21 years old I wasn't expecting this at all coming into the race. It was close, I had a good day, and third overall with the Best Young Rider jersey ... I'm still happy and had a great Tour de Beauce."
Piccoli, the defending champion, was one of the strongest riders in the break, but wasn't quite able to take his second title. "Our plan on Team Canada was to mix things up and create chaos in the second half of the race. This stage is very selective and hard to control. Considering how close people were to the lead it was a really open race, and we did our best. I went to the front on the final climb because we got a time check that the field was only ten seconds away, so we needed to keep the pressure on. Brendan had a team mate with him, so I just went to the front and rode as hard as I could; if I dropped him, I dropped him, and if not then he deserved to win."
|Return to Canadian Cyclist homepage | Back to Top|