BMC sweeps stage 1 at Tour de Beauce; Wyss takes lead

Posted on 09. Jun, 2009 by in race

Continuing with their trademark agressive racing, the BMC team had a great day in the opening stage at the Tour de Beauce. Danilo Wyss outsprinted his breakmates to take the stage win, the yellow leader’s jersey and the white points jersey. Chad Beyer took the polka dot KOM jersey and the red best young rider jersey.

“It was a good day today, the guys rode very well, they covered everything. Danilo made it across at the last second which I’m always a big fan of, the last guy across to the break. He was very motivated today I could tell and Chad is always motivated. We had a good day, we’ll see how the rest of the week goes but it was a good start. Philly was a bit disappointing so this is a good way to start and make up for it. ” said BMC Directeur Sportif Mike Sayers who knows Tour de Beauce very well as he’s raced here at least 7 times in the past before retiring.

Danilo Wyss (BMC) wins the sprint after rocking the break for 100 kms

Danilo Wyss (BMC) wins the sprint after rocking the break for 100 kms

Team Type 1′s Darren Lill and Planet Energy’s Ryan Roth finished second and third on the stage.

An 11-rider break rode 100 kilometers together in the somewhat cool and windy conditions, up and down the roads around Lac-Etchemin surrounded by green fields to finally shatter in the final 3-kilometer climb.  One of the fastest men in the break, Wyss was a danger  and delivered on that threat.  A chase group of 2 riders from the Colombia National team crossed the line 1:34 after the winner with the field coming in at over 4 minutes back.

“It’s the type of course which suits me well with little hills like these, not too long, it’s really perfect for me so I knew what I could give on the hills and keep a little bit for the sprint, I knew that I had something left.” said Wyss.

Unless something dramatic happens, the overall winner is in the top 13 riders in GC, which includes GC threats  2007 winner Ben Day (Fly V Australia), Kelly Benefit’s Scott Zwizanski who won the Tour of Uruguay earlier this year, Darren Lill (Team Type 1).  Unknowns, at least for me, are Guy East (Trek-Livestrong), Tom Southam (Rapha-Condor) and the two Colombia riders.  Missing from the list is the Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin squad who missed the move and chased hard but were not able to reel in the break.  Planet Energy’s Ryan Roth does not consider himself a GC contender so the team will once again be hunting for stage wins.

Just the facts.

First break to get a few seconds

First break to get a few seconds

96 riders took the start this morning in Lac-Etchemin in front of screaming kids let out of school for the occasion. Immediately from the start, the race was aggressive as every team wanted a rider in the break. At kilometer 16 of the 165 km stage, around twleve men managed to get some light in between them and the field but it was chased down.  Another dangerous move which included 2006 winner Valeriy Kobzarenko (Team Type 1) tried to go but with teams such as BMC missing it, it was doomed to be killed fast.

And that was the story of the first 44 kilometers. Before the start,  I asked Kelly Benefit’s Jake Erker when the break would go today and he said at around 50 km, and he should know as he’s raced in Beauce for 7 times so far.

Finally at kilometer 44, a group of 9 riders went away.  Beyer, Zwizanski, East, Roth, Fly V Australia duo of  Bernard Sulzberger & Day, Derrick Saint-Johns (Garneau) and Chris Jones (Team Type 1) were off and slowly built a gap.

The 11-rider break is off

The 11-rider break is off

“I just hit hard after a flurry of attacks and then it went back until another jab, then we just started rolling and Danilo bridged up with three other riders. Just kept it going all day.” sad Beyer.

Sensing the danger, Lill bridged across and brought Wyss with him.

“Initially, we didn’t have two of us [in the break], we just had Chris [Jones] there, we weren’t very happy with it. We knew Garmin had missed it and we were chasing and they didn’t seem to be bringing back. So I got together with my teammate Matt and we got to one of those mini-risers and I just asked him if he could try to launch me halfway across and I would do the rest. So he did a good job of taking me halfway, actually Danilo who ended up winning was on my wheel, so Danilo and I rode across to the break. Initially, Fly had two, BMC had one and we had one, so we all had two. We got everyone rolling because it was still pretty close, it was 30 seconds for ages. We knew Garmin was on the ropes, basically they cracked.” said Lill about the composition of the break.

“I was supposed to say quiet and wait for the sprint but when I saw the group go, I stay attentive and when I saw Darren Lill go, I told myself ‘that’s the wheel to follow” and I bridged to the lead group. After that, I knew that I had a good chance in the sprint because the sensations are really good right now, I’m really happy to have won this race.” commented Wyss.

The 11-riders worked well together, building a small echelon to fight the crosswinds when needed.

“We organized ourselves from the beginning, everyone wanted to make it to the end, except for the Planet Energy rider, he wasn’t really interested in rolling through, the others rolled well, it was a good group.” said Wyss about the cooperation in the break.

Beyer attacks and easily wins the second KOM

Beyer attacks and easily wins the second KOM

Seeing the opportunity, Beyer grabbed second on the first KOM and then first spot in the two remaining and leads the competition with 9 points over Zwizanski.

“It’s how it played out. I can climb pretty well so I had the opportunity and went for it. ” said Beyer about going for the KOM points. “The first one was pretty heavily contested, the second one, I got a good jump and no one came with, the last one, I had so many points that I don’t think anyone was going to go for it.”

Having missed the break, the Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin and the Colombian National Team were forced to lead the chase

Having missed the break, the Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin and the Colombian National Team were forced to lead the chase

Meanwhile, back in the field, the Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin and Colombia Teams came to the front to try and chase the break down, but it wasn’t to be.

With 55 kilometers to go, a 5-man chase group set off to try and bridge across. But the two Colombian riders Sergio Luis Henao and Darwin Atapuma dropped Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia), Moises Aldape (Team Type 1) and Neil Shirley (Kelly Benefit) on one of the climbs and continued to forge ahead. The trio would be gobbled up by the charging field in the following kilometers.

Break shatters in the final 4 kilometers

Break shatters in the final 4 kilometers

The break continued to work well together until the final climb to the finish when a group of 6 made to the top together. At that point, Day attacked, then Lill but Wyss stayed on their wheels and timed his sprint perfectly.

“I had scoped out the finish before the start, I knew exactly when to launch my sprint. Ben Day attacked at the top of the hill and I knew that I absolutely had to follow him and then launch the sprint, from far away. With this descent, I had to start far.” said Wyss.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to ride across to the break, it was quite a big gap at the time. I was just praying, I just thank God I made it across. I think I’ve come here with good form and it would have been a waste to miss a good break like that. We’ll find out on Megantic I guess.” said Lill.

What’s next? Tomorrow is a brand new stage to this race, a complete unknown to everyone. One thing that I found out today is that the riders will hae to dismount and walk across an old bridge. Makes things interesting.  The  161-kilometer Thetford Mines / Thetford Mines stage starts at 10am and includes 3 KOM and 2 intermediate sprints.  Expect the Felt boys to come out strong, hard and fast on this stage while the GC contenders might be content to wait until the very tough stage 3 with the finishing climb up Mont Megantic.

Wyss leads GC with 7 seconds over Lill and 9 seconds over Roth. Day and Zwizanski follow at 13 seconds back, with Southam in sxith at 16 seconds. Beyer is at 59 seconds.

“We’re going to keep it as long as possible. The stage with the mountain finish will be hard for me but we have Chad who is also in good position and I think we have good cards to play. We have a good team here, I think you’re still going to see us in action.” said Wyss about defending his lead.

“I haven’t really thought about it, we’ll see what happens. The Columbian guys were incredibly strong today, they almost made it across, probably another 5 k they would have made it, and they’re going to be the main GC guys. Chad is still in there and he’s got some time and he’s a GC rider so we’ll see how Danilo feels tonight and what he wants to do. Tomorrow is one more day before Megantic and we’ll just go from there.” said Sayers about the plan to defend the yellow jersey.

“I’m not greedy, I’ve never been a greedy rider so we’ll just take what we can get at this point. If we can take the KOM then we’ll take that but I’m not going to destroy the team just to keep the KOM, that’s not how I work. Right now, we have the yellow and we’ll operate off of that.” continued Sayers about defending the KOM.

Complete results here

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