Tour de Beauce, Canada, June 17-18, 2006
Well the tour is over so here’s the final two stages totally action packed. I’ll try and keep it short though!
Stage 5 - June 17: Québec, 125 km
120 km raced in Quebec City around a circuit which had a nasty little 1 km climb, we did 10 laps of the circuit so by the end it was gonna hurt. Now that we have the yellow and with two stages left it's time to defend it! Basically the tactics were to follow attacks on the first couple of laps and keep an eye out who was in the moves (make sure there were no threats to our first place) once things settle down we try and let a small group of five or six riders up the road. Once they get away, Mark and myself ride a good tempo to stop the break from getting too far up the road, but not pulling it back, also keeping the pace comfy enough for us and high enough so no one else attacks!
Bit of a job but we were keen to get Valeriy and Sergey as fresh as we could to the finishing lap so they could unleash the last time up the climb. All was going well, we had just got a move up the road after a couple of laps of fury. As we settled down to a good rhythm I noticed a car pull out of a side street which was no worries as it was driving in the coned off lane for the traffic. But as we got closer, the driver decided she'd try a bit of slalom work through the cones which by now I was almost beside her. I had managed to bank hard to the left and start to get around her as she pushed me closer to the gutter. By now I was yelling and I think the other 100 riders were too? She braked, and at the same time Mark had a choice, my rear wheel or her rear bumper! He opted for my wheel and clipped it sending him down onto his ass! The bunch pulled up as it just wasn't a very safe stretch of road.
After a quick on the road managers meeting something was sorted out (not sure what, as not much had changed to the circuit). We rode back around to the start line and restarted for five more laps. The break was let go 40 seconds before us as that was their time split at the time of the accident. It was discussed as a sort of gentlemen’s agreement as the circuit was still a bit dodgy that we would ride a good pace and hold the break at their time gap until the last lap, then we would race!
Well all sounded good, but when the flag for us was dropped, two of Ze Germans attacked from the line. What the?? You can imagine, no-one was happy with them at all. Once we got them under control it was up to Ciarán and myself to ride the front and set our Soviet Connections up for the last blast up the hill. Mark was feelin' a tad sore, so he rode to the finish as best he could.
By the last lap the bunch was down to about 40 guys and the break was coming back! I pulled one last turn going into the climb as if it was the last kilometre, and once I got to the climb it was job done for me and bye bye to the front of the race. The break was caught at the bottom of the climb and it was on for young and old! Sergey and Valeriy opened up a gap with two other riders but were pulled back in the final kilometre. Sergey hit out for the win but the Pomgolian Russell Downing from the DFL squad hit out after him, rolling him over the line taking the win with Sergey 2nd.
Another good day for the Navigators, with time bonuses Sergey has moved into 2nd overall. Having the first two spots on GC is always a bonus and gives us a few options for the final stage. The only downer was Mark having that crash and also losing the best placed Canadian jersey. Not the way ya wanna lose it or earn it, but at least he is ok!
Another day for us on the front tomorrow but knowing it’s the last stage we can give it our all and not worry bout the day after.
Stage 6 - June 18: St-Georges, 133 km
The last and final stage, 130 km around the streets of St Georges. Once again we are greeted with a hot sunny day to end the tour. The tactics were the same as the day before, which was to try and let a non-dangerous break go up the road. Mark and I to set a good tempo on the front with Ciarán joining us later on and Cesar to set a good tempo on the climb every lap to deter anyone from even thinking about attacking.
From the gun all was going to plan, until about 3 km into the race, Mark crashed out around one of the first corners and never recovered from it. So I had to call up my good old Paddy teammate Ciarán a bit earlier than expected and the both of us rode the front for the remainder of the race. A break went up the road with no threats in it, so all was good. Nothing really exciting happened on this stage with most of the top five riders on GC seeming content with their final positions!
We picked up the pace a bit towards the end but didn't catch the break. No worries for us though Valeriy and Sergey finished 1st and 2nd overall with Ciarán also placing in the top 10. Sergey won the points jersey and we won the teams comp as well. I'm glad all those Ks paid off for us on the front, I think I spent roughly 450 km on or out off the front with either 1 or 2 teammates at given times(?) But it's good to know that while you're doing the work, you have a couple of guys sitting behind resting to finish it off. Thanks Boyz.
Dave, Ciarán, Valeriy and Sergey all head back to their countries for their up and coming national championships. They all seem to be going strong so I hope they all continue their form for next Sunday. As for me, it's back to good old New Jersey where I’ll hang out for about a week and then head to Fitchburg for a four day tour.
So till next time, all the best,
PS. Movie of the Month - Underworld Evolution, (Kate Beckinsale, MEE-YOW)
Book of the Month - Tommyland (An autobiography of Tommy Lee, I think most of us know who he is or have seen the video)
Cycling tip of the Month - Don't hang on to those old cycling shorts, they will always be see through even on those dark winter mornings! And don't be afraid to tell someone that you can see their ass, most of us don't know! Most! :-)