By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The fifth stage of the Tour de Beauce last week, set in Ville de Québec, will also be the same course used for the upcoming Canadian national championships. "Québec City has been very good for us," said Rémi Bérubé, competition coordinator for the national championships. "Finding a city that will close it's roads for three full days is very rare."
The urban landscape of the city should have been an exciting change from the rural settings of the first four stages. However, on the first lap of the circuit, the realities of racing in a busy city atmosphere were obvious. The main road Grand-Allée, which was utilized in both directions for the race, was narrowed by the presence of a third lane of vehicle traffic only separated from the racers by orange pylons.
Adding to any potential problems was that each direction of the race course was further divided by orange pylons, making the width of the course even smaller and any service or need to manoeuvre through the race caravan quite dangerous. The worries were quickly confirmed on the third lap when a vehicle swerved onto the course and into the front of the peloton, causing Navigators Insurance's Mark Walters to crash.
After this incident the race was stopped and changes made. The pylons down the middle of the race course were mostly removed, making the actual race course wider. In the case of the vehicle traffic, however, the course was still only separated by pylons and marshaled by volunteers.
Nonetheless, Bérubé assured Cyclingnews that the parcours for the nationals will reflect the lessons learned during the Tour de Beauce. "Québec City is taking measures similar to what happened after the re-start at the Tour de Beauce. We will have three full lanes along the Grand-Allée and the material we will use to block the roads be different, we will have fences instead of cones."
Bérubé is confident that the races will occur without incident but is realistic about holding road racing events. "It's the nature of road cycling, so it's not the first nor the last time it will happen," he said. "The Tour de Beauce was kind of a test event so we found out what happened and are making the corrections."