Symmetrics’ Svein Tuft is on the cusp on winning the Tour de Beauce, a feat that has evaded a Canadian cyclist for more than a decade. The last time it happened was in 1995 when Eric Wohlberg, then with Saturn and now a member of the Symmetrics team, won the overall classification. Wohlberg did not join the team in Beauce this year.
All Tuft has to do is survive the onslaught of the Team Type 1 team for one more stage. The team is nervous, yet confident:
So, one more day. The team’s on a high. Tomorrow is a beautiful stage and as much as people think its harder than today… we think it will be a bit easier to defend on. The course has longer straights along the top and bottom and it will be easier for the guys to get reorganized at the front after the climb. Sure the wind could be brutal along the bottom of the course, but that can be good too. The guys can line it out in the gutter-protecting Svein while just keeping it uncomfortably difficult and tense for the entire field behind. If it shakes out like today, it will be perfect. We’re keeping ourselves nervous yet confident.
Typically, the downtown Saint-Georges circuit is held on the last day and ends the Tour de Beauce with a bang. But exceptionally this year, this stage was held on Saturday so that the race can end in Quebec City to coincide with the city’s 400th Anniversary celebrations.
In a largely redesigned 89-mile (144-km) circuit, the riders climbed a significant rise 15 times before crossing the finishing line, and sprinted for 3 KOMs.
An 8-man group escaped from the Symmetrics-controlled field on the second lap, and sensing that this was the break, small chase groups went after it. It took over 35 km for Ian MacGregor (Team Type 1) and another rider to finally join the escape, and finally a group of 14 riders was off the front. While the break, that including duos from Team Type 1, Sparkasse, Pezula, and lone riders such as Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe’s), Jean-Sébastien Perron (Eva-DaVinci), wasn’t working as cohesively as some would have hoped, the time gap grew to 4 minutes.
With no major threat to the overall classification, the Symmetrics team was content to feather the time gap down to 3 minutes. With 5 laps to go, Glen Chadwick (Team Type 1) attacked the yellow jersey group, and Cameron Evans was immediately on his wheel, towing his leader Tuft up. With 4 laps to go, attacks shattered the break into 3 groups.
“We had control through a major part of the day. We were only worried about the riders from Sparkasse, but we were so strong that the gap continued to shrink towards the end.” said Tuft about his team.
The Sparkasse duo, Andreas Schillinger and Eric Baumann jumped and rode away from the lead group, and only Paul Brousse (A-Style Stomn) stayed with them. With the odds in their favor, the German pair dropped the Frenchman and crossed the finish line together – in fact, the officials had to go to the finish line camera to see who had won. Schillinger got the top step, Baumann was second and Brousse finished third.
The yellow jersey Tuft came in safely one minute and fifty seconds later, and the overall classification stayed the same. Tuft is still the leader, 6 seconds ahead of Bernardo Colex Tepoz (Tecos Trek), and 46 seconds ahead of Moises Aldape (Team Type 1). In the fourth and fifth spots are Team Type 1′s Valeriy Kobzarenko at 49 seconds and Chadwick at 1 minute and 13 seconds.
A happy Tuft enjoying the podium and the attention of the podium girls. (photo from formerly-JF presently S-Team)
The final stage is a 77-mile (125km) circuit race with 9 laps of a 8.6-mile (13.9-km) downtown loop. The last chance for Team Type 1 and Tecos to try and wrestle the jersey off Tuft’s shoulders. The last chance for Quebec riders, such as Charles Dionne, to try and win a stage. And the last chance for François Parisien (Team RACE) to move up into the top 5, his stated goal. So it should be fireworks galore.