Jeff Louder is using the Tour de Beauce as an important training block in preparation for the second half of the season. His BMC Racing squad is a largely American contingent at the UCI 2.2-ranked event that began yesterday in Saint-Georges de Beauce, Canada.
"The Tour de Beauce fits well into my buildup for the summer," Louder told Cyclingnews. "I have come back to Utah from Spain and taken a good break. I'm now training for what comes next and Beauce is well placed as an event to find my racing legs. Plus, I've always liked the race and it has treated me well in the past."
Louder returned home for a recent mid-season break following his participation in the Spring Classics and the Giro d'Italia, where teammate and current UCI Road World Champion Cadel Evans placed fifth overall.
The Professional Continental team's squad for Beauce includes Brent Bookwalter, who placed second in the Giro d'Italia prologue and Alexander Kristoff, who took third at the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship two weeks ago. Jackson Stewart is also riding, as is John Murphy, Chris Barton, Chris Butler and Chad Beyer.
"Alexander Kristoff was third last weekend in Philadelphia, so he is obviously sprinting well right now; put him with John Murphy and that's a solid combo," Louder continued. "I think beyond that, the team is full of strong guys that are all great at racing aggressively, guys like Jackson Stewart or Chris Barton in particular.
"I think the key stage will be Megantic, and as far as that goes, I expect Chad Beyer and Chris Butler to both have good legs after having raced the Amgen Tour of California," he predicted.
"I expect to see us go for stages and see if we can't put someone on the podium in the end," added Louder. "I think that's probably everyone's goal. I do think that we have some solid guys who can fulfill these roles. I particularly expect our sprinters to show well if the race comes to a bunch kick.
"Personally, I hope for the best, but it's too soon to predict coming back to competition after almost a month away."
The Beauce region of the Province of Quebec may not boast the most mountainous terrain in the country but the esteemed Canadian event does include relentless back-to-back rollers of one and two kilometres in length that will take their toll on the riders.
The peloton will be treated to a mountaintop finish on the third stage. The route will begin in Saint-Georges and bring the riders 154km and finish atop the famed Mont Megantic, a nine-kilometre ascent that normally decides the overall classification.
"I like the Tour de Beauce because it's a race that is always dynamic and hard to predict," Louder said. "I like that every stage usually has a lot of action and it repays an opportunist who is willing to be in the break and be aggressive."