Veilleux wins rainy Queen stage; Christoff Van Heerden in yellow at Tour of PA

Posted on 28. Jun, 2008 by in race

The field reduced to 91 riders faced rainstorms, 2 major climbs and wild descents in the Queen stage, the 60-mile (96 km) trek from Bedford to Latrobe. But stage winner David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit/Medifast) didn’t mind the weather.

“I don’t mind the rain, it’s kind of good weather for me, I kind of like it. I know guys don’t really like it so I don’t mind it, it was good” said a smiling Veilleux who easily outsprinted his breakmates for the win.

With a small group of 12 riders coming to the finish together, a new rider took over the general classification, South Africa’s Christoff Van Heerden (Konica Minolta).  In second place, at just one second back is Veilleux, and Stefano Barberi (ZTeam) is five seconds further back.

Peter Stetina (VMG/Felt) picked up where he left off the day before and threw in attacks on the first climb of the day, the 5.5-mile to the top of Bald Knob Summit. The grades of 10% to15% combined with the attacks, created a separation in the field with a select group at the front, a chase group of about 40 riders and other groups at the back. Neither yellow jersey Steven Van Vooren (Johan Bruyneel Cycling Academy) not second-place on GC Keven Lacombe (Kelly Benefit/Medifast) made the first group, but third place Van Heerden  did.

Along with Stetina, Veilleux and Van Heerden, the 12-man break also included VMG/Felt’s Peter Salon and Caleb Failry, ZTeam duo of Stefano Barberi and Chad BeyerDennis Luyt (Global Cycling), Phil Gaimon (Fiordifrutta), Dennis Van Niekerk (Konica Minolta), Alex Welch (VRC: NOW-MS Society) and Dylan Newell (Praties).


The gap increased to 2 minutes and 30 seconds after a series of smaller climbs and the second KOM at Laurel Hill. Stetina, attacked again on the 1.8-mile climb with a 15% grade and locked up the KOM competition.

The chase was on in the group behind driven by the yellow jersey team of Johan Bruyneel Cycling Academy with the help of CRCA/Saskonnect who also missed the break. Kelly Benefit/Medifast also pitched in as their man Veilleux was outnumbered in the break and they were trying to keep Lacombe in the GC running.

With the finish line getting closer, the breakmates started thinking of the win and attacked each other. With about 2.5 miles to go, Welch gained a few seconds before being reeled in, earning the Most Aggressive jersey for his efforts.

20-year Veilleux crossed the line with several bikes length ahead of Van Heerden with Luyt taking the third spot on the podium. Van Heerden also took over the Sprints competition and Salon still leads the U21 race.

With no feedzone, for PA Lightning DS  Michael Hernandez,  “the battle became trying to feed riders up and down the race course, minutes and miles apart, with one car.” With the 20k to go approaching (meaning the end of feeding from cars), Hernandez “just told our driver to floor it and pass straight through to get to our guys. Fine us the swissfrancs, yell at us and think we don’t know what we’re doing, do what you want – but i’m getting my boys nutrients.”  (Read the complete story here).

For some riders, the goal is to finish in Pittsburgh, 22 year-old Turner Johnson (Penn State Cancer/GPOA/Cannondale) crashed in the criterium and on stage 3 and is now racing with road rash down almost the entire side of his right leg anf five stitches on his right-hand.

“I’m trying to make it to Pittsburgh, that’s my goal,” said Johnson to PittsburghLive, whose grandparents, father and sister have been following along with every stage. “Once you get riding, the pain of riding overshadows the pain of the wound.”

Two more stages to go. The 83-mile (46km) stage 5 should give the riders a more subdued ride as they enter into the City of Pittsburgh. The route will follow a mostly rolling course with one short KOM at mile 21 and one last intermediate sprint at mile 38 on the outskirts of Latrobe. The race will continue through Pittsburgh’s East End and into the City’s historic South Side with a four-corner city neighborhood sprint finish at the headquarters of title sponsor American Eagle Outfitters.

“We are exactly where we wanted to be at the beginning of the week”, said Veilleux. “We didn’t want to take the yellow jersey at the beginning because we knew it would be difficult to keep it. The goal is the get it tomorrow (Saturday).”

Stage 4 video from Post-Gazette.com

Stage 4 Slideshow from PittsburghLive.com

Race Report on TourofPA.com

David Veilleux interview by Amy Smolens on CanadianCyclist.com

Full Results on TourOfPA.com

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