Canadian Guillaume Boivin (Cycling Academy) had already ended his season after the UCI Road World Championships and was having a beer when his manager called him to see if he could come race the Tour of Rwanda. Two weeks later, the 27-year-old is one second out of the race lead after winning stage 1 to Ngoma.
"Two weeks ago I was sitting in Montreal with my friends and having a beer, as my season was over, when manager Ran Margaliot called me from Tel Aviv and said: 'Can you race in Africa? I need you,'" Boivin said, according to his team.
Boivin hastily resumed training and endured a prolonged journey to Rwanda that included half a day in Nairobi to fix his Visa, and went into the race with low expectations: "I said, OK, it will be a good way to get ready for the next season".
That attitude changed when he finished the prologue in fourth, four seconds down on winner Timothy Rugg (Lowestrates.com) even though he was without a time trial bike. Thanks to missing out on the race lead, he was able to get into a breakaway without being marked, and the move worked.
"We kept jumping into moves up until the first KOM of the day. From there I could feel the legs burning a little…that's always the best time to attack," Boivin said.
60 kilometers later, Boivin was still with the move and easily out-sprinted his rivals to take out the stage win.
"I surprised myself, frankly. But I am so happy that I did not say 'no' to the manager and didn't continue drinking that beer!"
Boivin is one second in arrears of race leader Joseph Areruya (Club Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana), who was third in the prologue and also made the day's breakaway. There are no time bonuses in the race.
Tuesday's second stage is largely flat, but on Wednesday the race heads to the hills with a 115.9km stage to Rusizi that has five classified climbs including a category 2 summit finish.
WADA suspends Doha laboratory
The World Anti-Doping Agency announced today it has given a four-month suspension to the Doha laboratory in Qatar, the same one that would have been responsible for analyzing samples from the UCI Road World Championships in October.
WADA gave no specific 'non-conformities' that triggered the suspension in its press release and would not elaborate to Cyclingnews on whether testing had been completed for the Worlds samples.
"According to the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL), WADA is responsible for accrediting and re-accrediting anti-doping laboratories, thereby ensuring that they maintain the highest quality standards. This monitoring process is conducted in conjunction with ISO assessment by independent national accreditation bodies that are full members of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC)," the statement read.
"Whenever a laboratory does not meet ISL requirements, WADA may suspend the laboratory’s accreditation."
If any samples have been left untested in the Doha laboratory, they must be securely transferred with 'demonstrable chain of custody' to another WADA-accredited lab no later than 14 days after the suspension.
Meeusen takes a break
Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) was chasing a podium placing in Sunday's Superprestige cyclo-cross race in Gavere, Belgium when he ran into some trouble in the closing laps. First there was a problem with his gears, and then on the slick, muddy descent, he crashed dramatically into the inflatable barriers.
Pasqualon signs with Wanty-Groupe Gobert
Italian rider Andrea Pasqualon has signed with the Wanty-Groupe Gobert team for 2017. The 28-year-old comes from Team Roth.
"I am so happy to sign with Wanty-Groupe Gobert. My future was not assured for next year. I thank the team for their confidence. I'm looking forward to wearing the jersey of Wanty-Groupe Gobert," Pasqualon said.
Pasqualon went winless this season, but had a number of promising results, including a second place in the Coppa Sabatini in September, and four top-five stage finishes in the Tour of Hainan.
"In 2016 I was several times close to the victory. I'm sure I win again in 2017 because it is a very good team with talented riders," he said.
Sports director Jean-Marc Rossignon said the Italian will take the place of Roy Jans "He's a fast guy who can win races... He will rapidly show that he is an asset to this team."
After signing Wesley Kreder, Guillaume Levarlet, Fabien Doubey, Xandro Meurisse, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Pieter Vanspeybroeck, Yoann Offredo, Andrea Pasqualon is the eighth new rider of Wanty-Groupe Gobert for the next season.