The 29th Tour de Beauce attracts 21 teams from around the world

The 29th edition of the UCI 2.2 Tour de Beauce in Canada is set to begin Wednesday with 21 teams from North America, South America and Europe competing over five days throughout the Beauce region of the Québec province. Organizers reduced the parcours by one day this year, leaving four road races and a 20km individual time trial to decide the overall winner after 639km of racing.

Canadian Continental squads Silber Pro Cycling and Garneau-Quebecor will join US teams 5-hour Energy, Hincapie Sportswear, Jelly Belly, Team SmartStop, Optum Pro Cycling and Jamis-Hagens Berman on the start line, along with Alpha Baltic from Latvia, Budget Forklifts from Australia, Bike Aid from Germany, Amore & Vita from Ukraine, ISD from Ukraine, Firefighters Upsala from Sweden, 4-72 from Colombia and Christina Watches from Denmark. Team Novo Nordisk from the US will represent the Pro Continental ranks, while elite squads Veloselect, Norco Bicycles, Ride with Rendall and H&R Block will also compete in Beauce.

The race begins Wednesday with the longest stage of the tour, a 196.4km road race that starts and finishes in Saint-Justine. With one less stage this year, the 164km "queen" stage – featuring the climb to Mont-Mégantic – will come on the second day.

St-Georges will host the 20km stage 3 individual time trial on Friday, followed by a trip north the next day for the 130.5km stage 4 circuit race in Québec City. Riders will cover nine laps of a 14.5km urban loop during the stage. The race concludes Sunday with a 124.8km circuit race in St-Georges, where riders will compete over 12 laps of a 10.4km circuit.

Nathan Brown, now of Garmin-Sharp but riding for Bontrager Development Team last year, won the 2013 overall by sticking with the leaders during the Mont-Mégantic stage, putting in a runner-up performance in the time trial and then finishing in a front group that dropped race leader Francisco Mancebo during the St-George circuit race on the final day.

Brown finished the general classification 36 seconds ahead of Phil Deignen, who then raced for UnitedHealthcare, and 44 seconds of ahead of Christian Meier, who was competing with his Canadian national team. Mancebo was fourth last year, while Matt Cooke, currently with Jamis-Hagens Berman, was fifth.

Stage winners from last year's race include Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager), Guillaume Boivin (Canadian National Team), Mancebo (5-Hour Energy), Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare), Diego Jimenez (Dominican Cycling Team) and Hincapie Sportswear's Joey Rosskpof in the time trial. Rosskopf is the only 2013 stage winner who will return this year, while Matt Cooke of Jamis-Hagens Berman is the only rider from last year's general classification top five who will race in Beauce this year,

2014 Tour de Beauce:

Stage 1, Wednesday, June 11
Sainte-Justine / Sainte-Justine – 196.4km

Stage 2, Thursday, June 12
Lac-Mégantic / Parc national du Mont-Mégantic – 167.4km

Stage 3, Friday, June 13
Individual Time Trial – St-Georges (Secteur Saint Jean de la Lande) - 20km

Stage 4, Saturday, June 14
City of Québec circuit race – 130.5km / nine laps of a 14.5km circuit.

Stage 5, Sunday, June 15
City of St-Georges circuit race – 124.8km / 12 laps of a 10.4km circuit.

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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.

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