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G.P. Cycliste de Beauce - Stage 1

Old 06-15-05, 08:31 AM
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G.P. Cycliste de Beauce - Stage 1

June 14, 2005

- Hackettstown, NJ -

G.P. Cycliste de Beauce - Stage 1 (UCI 2.1)

Canada's premier stage race celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and the 2005 edition boasts some significant changes, while embracing some steadfast traditions. Historically, the six-day event has been characterized by the ominous hill top finish at Mt Megantic that has always played a critical role in the overall classification. This year however, marks the first time in recent memory that the event will not include the feared ascent. In addition, the race will include a longer individual TT, and a prime time circuit race in the region's jeweled "metropolis", Quebec City.

A new stage beginning on the east side of St Georges, and finishing 166 km later across the Chaudiere River on the village's west side, would begin the action today as an international field of 15 teams took the start. A flurry of attacks led to a solo escape by Quebec's Jean Sebastien Beland. A counter move by Jiri Pospisil and Tomasz Lesniak was largely ignored by the field, but the Czech rider could not make contact with the Pole, and would soon return to the fold. Lesniak and Beland forged a nearly 3 minute advantage before the Navigators Insurance, HealthNet, and Symmetrics teams picked up the action at the front of the peloton. The break was absorbed at 75 km, and the race took on a serious tone. Strong attacks stretched the field, and put many of the less experienced riders in difficulty. Although a strong wind was blowing from the south, the roads in this part of Quebec are generally well protected by the almost endless stretches of trees, which make up a principal part of the area's economy. The trees provide significant cover against the potentially punishing effects of cross wind, but a turn to the northwest at about 95 km offered an few km stretch of exposed road and a measurable cross tail wind. The Navigators Insurance team dove into the right turn and drove a hard pace, pushing the peloton into the gutter and stretching it into a long snaking line that could not keep from snapping. As the echelons formed, a group of 13 broke clear and pushed for an escape.

2003 winner, John Lieswyn, showing his now obvious superb form, made the split for the on fire HealthNet team, but he was alone, and the Navigators Insurance squad had three GC threats present in Mark Walters, David O'Loughlin, and Jeff Louder. Two each from the Polish Paged MBK, and Canadian Volkswagon Trek teams, and significant players such as Symmetric's Svein Tuft, and Amore & Vita's Domenica Passuello set the stage for a break that was going to gain some time. The Navigators Insurance team recognized the opportunity and put their three riders on the front of the group to drive a hard pace. The gap was quick to top 1 minute, and the HealthNet team knew they could not let this group get too comfortable a margin. America's strong domestic team hit the front of the main field hard and took pursuit as Lieswyn sat at the back of the lead group, hoping for reinforcements. The chase from behind was so strong, that eight riders broke clear, including three HealthNet's and two more Navigators, but the gap to the leaders was holding steady thanks to the strong cooperation of the Navigators, VW, and Paged MBK riders. Eventually, the chase backed off in an attempt to regroup, and the break built on its lead. As the gap crested two minutes, dissention arose among the leaders. Too many riders were not willing to contribute, and the resulting discussions caused the break to lose both speed and time. As the gap fell to 30 seconds, the Navigators Insurance riders began a series of attacks that would serve to pick up the pace and protect the advantage. Each attack was matched by Lieswyn, and although no one could break clear of the lead group, the momentum accelerated the leaders, and their gap grew to over 2 minutes. Still, it was a nervous energy that was protecting the break, not a cooperative effort, and with so many riders sitting on, the finish was likely going to be a tactical battle. The main objective for the Navigators Insurance team was to create a GC advantage by giving their three riders a cushion on the field, but the constantly rolling terrain, and a category 3 KOM made it difficult to keep the pace high with most of the riders sitting on. A tremendous bridging effort by Cyclingnews.com's Glen Chadwick swelled the group to 14, but the advantage was still over 2 minutes as the leaders began their rolling descent towards the finish. Then problems hit for the Navigators. The drizzle that had been peppering the field all day was now a steady rain, normally a good omen for an Irishman, but Mr. O'Loughlin's luck was running short. He snapped a rear derailleur cable with under 10 km to go, and after a quick bike change, O'Loughlin raced back to the leaders. Louder and Walters had now stopped working, and momentum dropped in the lead group. O'Loughlin raced through the follow cars and rejoined the leaders on a slight descent. With the momentum from the chase, he immediately attacked and the lead group split in half. The back group was able to chase down the leaders, but with only 5 km to go, the games had officially begun. Back in the field, HealthNet had taken up chase again, and as the leaders toyed with each other, the gap began to fade. Sensing danger Louder set pace for the Navigators in the lead group and the gap hovered at about 1 minute. The wet roads were going to make for a dangerous sprint as a fast descent led to two opposing turns in the last 700 meters.

VW Trek's Martin Gilbert was the man with the most nerve as he pushed the last two turns and opened a slight gap. Louder pushed to close it, but Walters lost his wheel, and O'Loughlin was glued to Lieswyn, several riders back. Gilbert held for the win in front of Quebec's Dominique Rollin and Amore & Vita's Passuello. Louder crossed in 5th for the Navigators.

Stage 1
1. Gilbert
2. Rollin
3. Passuello

GC:
1. Gilbert
2. Rollin @ :06
3. Passuello @ :09
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Old 06-15-05, 08:46 PM
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I did this race only once and it was the hardest race i've ever done in my life. There is not a flat piece of ground in that area of Quebec just 3-4 km, 7-13% climbs one after another forever and the Lac Megantic observatory climb... 7km with one section at 21% most of it at 8-10%... just brutal. When i came home i was like a zombie for 2 or 3 days. took a break from the bike and after that i was an animal in the saddle... nothing else i did seemed hard anymore.
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Old 06-20-05, 09:26 PM
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Just wanted to bump this thread to gloat about another Aussie who's flying!!

Henk, Dodger and now Nathan O'Neill have won the Tour de Beauce.

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