Organisers of the UCI 2.2 Tour de Beauce are welcoming what they are calling the best field ever assembled at the six-stage race set to begin on Tuesday, June 15 in Saint-Georges de Beauce, Canada. This year's peloton will include three former overall champions including 2005 winner Nathan O'Neill (Bahati Foundation), 2006 winner Valeriy Kobzarenko (Team Type 1) and 2007 winner Ben Day (Fly V Australia).
"It is really one of the greatest fields that we have ever had here," said the event's general director, Francis Rancourt. "We have three past champions and we also have a lot of old pros and really good young riders. There will be a great field on the start line on Tuesday morning.
"Tour de Beauce is the only international stage race in Canada so when the riders finish this race they might get a contract to a good team or picked up by the national team to do the world championships," he added. "I believe this race is the biggest on the Canadian calendar and also one of the biggest on the American calendar too."
The esteemed Canadian event has been won by the likes of Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers and Jonathan Vaughters.
Defending Champion Scott Zwisanski of the Kelly Benefit Strategies team will not be attending this year's race and will instead be competing at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, which overlaps the Canadian event.
America's sole Professional Continental squad, BMC Racing, will send a team of seven riders that includes Brent Bookwalter, who placed second in this year's Giro d'Italia prologue. His teammates are Jeff Louder, Alexander Kristoff, Jackson Stewart, John Murphy, Chris Barton and Chad Beyer.
Canada's only UCI-registered Continental team SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy is taking this race very seriously, with last year's Tour of Missouri stage winner Martin Gilbert, Francois Parisien, Ryan Roth, David Boily, Bruno Langlois, Andrew Randell and Lucas Euser.
Fly V Australia will be directed by a former overall winner Henk Vogels. The squad is currently leading the National Racing Calendar (NRC) series in the US and will field strong player to support overall contender Ben Day.
The Bahati Foundation will send a well rounded team to support O'Neill with climbers Cesar Grajales and Jason Donald. Team Type 1's Valeriy Kobzarenko recently placed inside the top 15 at the Amgen Tour of California proving to be on good form. He will be supported by teammates Thomas Rabou, who won the KOM jersey at the Amgen Tour and Chris Jones.
Also in the mix will be former stage winner Andrew Pinfold (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) and his teammates Chris Baldwin and Marc de Maar, who also placed inside the top 15 at the Amgen Tour. Under 23 US road race national champion Alex Howes (Holowesko Partners) will no doubt want to impress the international peloton wearing his stars and stripes jersey on Canadian soil.
International teams include DCM from Russia, Amore e Vita from Italy, Restore Cycling Team and Global Cycling both from The Netherlands, SC Wledenbruck2000 from Germany, CKT Champion System from Armenia and Heraklio-Murcia from Spain.
A handful of Canadian riders will make a strong appearance riding for the Canadian National Team, Equipe Quebec, Garneau Club Chaussures and Team Spirit-CIBC Wood Gundy.
"The riders and teams say that the Tour de Beauce is a very hard race," Rancourt continued. "We don't have really long climbs, they generally range from one to two kilometres, except for Mont Megantic, which is nine kilometres. But the race is always up and down, never ending and very technical. It is a very hard race but the teams like it."
The magic of Beauce is Mont Megantic
Stage 1, June 15: Lac-Etchemin to Lac-Etchemin, 165km. The race will ignite with a tough opener that includes two Sprint zones and three King of the Mountain (KOM) ascents.
Stage 2, June 16: Thetford-Mines to Thetford-Mines, 160km. This stage is constantly up or down with very little flat sections. It includes two Sprint zones and two KOM ascents. It will provide the riders with many opportunities for a breakaway to get ahead of the climbers before the next day's queen stage.
Stage 3, June 17: Saint-Georges to Mont Megantic, 154km. This is widely known as the queen stage for its finishing nine-kilometre ascent atop Mont Megantic. The point-to-point stage also includes two Sprint zones and three KOM.
"This is the famous climb of the Tour de Beauce," Rancourt said. "Getting to the top of this climb is hard and normally the top ten riders in this stage become the top ten riders in the overall classification."
Stage 4, June 18: Contre-la Montre, 20km. The time trial will travel along the Rue 55. It is predominantly down hill on the way out which will make for a grueling return on the up hill back into Saint-Rene.
Stage 5, June 19: Circuit Urbain-Ville de Quebec, 127.6km. The peloton will complete 11 laps of a nearly 12 km circuit that was previously used as the Canadian National Championships course. The course includes one Sprint zone and one KOM per lap.
Stage 6, June 20: Circuit Urbain - Ville de Saint-Georges, 135.5km. The Tour de Beauce will end on a difficult note as the riders are forced to complete 11 laps of a 12 km circuit that boasts a grueling climb during the first half followed by a lengthy descent to the finish line.