Wonder if there’s something in the air, but another WTF moment from race officials occurred during the St Georges Criterium at the Tour de Beauce. After the chaos in the first stage at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota, another set of unusual incidents happened in Quebec – hopefully the magic rule of three will take hold and that will be it for awhile.
Evan Elken (Jittery Joe’s) outsprinted his breakaway companions to win the 60-kilometer (37-mile) St Georges Criterium. Sebastian Frey (Team Sparkasse) was second and well, not sure who was third. The photo and the official race report state that Kristian House (Rapha Condor Recycling.Co.UK) was third, but the race results say that it was Dan Timmerman (Team RACE). Mmmm
Going into the race, the Symmetrics team was nervous but ready to defend Svein Tuft’s yellow jersey and they “were afraid of what TT1 might throw at them.“
And on the first of the 40-lap race, a dangerous break that included Glen Chadwick (Team Type 1) and Bernardo Colex Tepox (Tecos Trek) made its move, but the Symmetrics team didn’t panic and brought them back a few laps later. And then a countermove went. Ten men escaped from the field and were never to be seen again, making it to the finish. The break included Elken, Frey, Timmerman, House, Dominique Perras (EVA-Davinci), Matt Wilson (Team Type 1). Symmetrics was content to let this break get some time as it did not include any danger men to the GC lead.
The break rode well together and the gap increased to more than 2 minutes. The Amore E Vita team was not represented in the break, and their sprinter Yuriy Metlushenko along with 3 other riders started to chase in the final laps.
With such short laps of 1.5 kilometer, the organizer’s rulebook stated that if a break lapped the field, then the field would execute its sprint with 2 laps to go while the break continued to its sprint finish to get the stage winner. And that’s when the confusion started. The break did not receive the bell lap but the 4-man chase group did.
During that time, a crash occurred in the field, and according to VeloMag, the riders impacted in the crash risked a time penalty of over 2minutes for not crossing the line with the field. François Parisien (Team RACE) and Soren Nissen (Amore E Vita), sixth and seventh respectively in the GC before the stage, were in the crash. Obviously, this didn’t sit well with them and the managers threatened to take the riders out if the penalty was given. No time penalties were distributed.
The break never got the bell lap, so some of the riders didn’t sprint for the finish line. According to cyclingnews, Elken remembered the rule, and knew to sprint and won the stage.
No changes in the overall classification. Tuft is still the leader, with Colex on his heels at 7 seconds back, and Valeriy Kobzarenko (Team Type 1) at 46 seconds back in third place. Chadwick still holds the KOM jersey.
The Symmetrics team has its work cut out to defend the jersey in the final 2 stages. But they are ready:
“Tomorrow is another threatening day. Svein is super-confident and riding on another level. When the guys see that, they have as much confidence in him as he has in himself. And honestly that makes the whole team ride at another level. We’re hoping to ride that mental high through Sunday. We’re not counting it done yet, but we up to the challenges the other teams are going to throw at us.”
Exceptionally in 2008, the riders will compete on the downtown Saint-Georges circuit on Saturday. This 144-km circuit is largely redesigned; riders will climb a significant rise 15 times before crossing the finishing line, where three Grand Prix de Montagne (KOM) will be held during the stage.
The competitors will wind up the 23rd Edition right in the heart of Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary celebrations. The last stage will take place Sunday, June 15. The riders will race 9 laps of a 13.9-km downtown loop, for a total of 125km.