After working hard in a 3-man break for over 100 kilometers in stage 2 at the Tour de Beauce, Australian Darren Lapthorne (Rapha-Condor) soloed away from his break companions in the final kilometer to take the win in Thetford Mines. With the field literally on their heels or shall we say their wheels, the other two riders in the break, Philip Cortes (Garneau-Club Chaussure) and Peter Stetina (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin) finished second and third.
“I didn’t want it to come down to a sprint because that’s my weakest aspect, so I thought that if I win, it has to be solo. I attacked a couple of times and I could tell that the other two were looking at each other a lot as well, I just went at the right moment and when I went, I give it everything and managed to just hold it off.” said Lapthorne.
No changes in the classifications. GC Leader Danilo Wyss (BMC) finished fifth on the stage and keeps his yellow jersey, and his lead in the points competition. His teammate Chad Beyer keeps his polka-dot jersey as KOM leader and also still leads the Best Young Rider competition.
The BMC team controlled the race perfectly today up and down the roads in a brand new stage, the 161-kilometer stage that started and ended in Thetford Mines. After a flurry of attacks, the trio was allowed to go and gobbled up the time bonuses on the road with the BMC team at the front of the field getting no assistance from any of the other teams until the final 30 kilometers. And even then, surprisingly, only one team put its guns at the front, the Canadian Planet Energy team that was looking to bring back the break and set up their sprinter Keven Lacombe. They almost did it, the gap which had grown to over five minutes making Lapthorne the virtual leader on the road was brought back to 30 seconds at the start of the final finishing circuit, and by the time Lapthorne crossed the finish line, the field was 3 seconds behind.
“Really it was to keep the jerseys, that was our goal so we controlled all the attacks. After the three riders were off, we told ourselves that it was a perfect situation for us. We rolled enough to make sure that the gap wasn’t too big and then in the last 30 kilometers, we were helped by Planet Energy that wanted to bring it back. For us, it was ideal, the break took the time bonuses.” said Wyss.
The GC contenders’ teams were happy to roll behind the black-and-white boys and wait until tomorrow’s Mont Megantic stage with the final killer climb.
“It was really all my teammates that did all the work.” said Wyss.
Just the facts. Under a drizzle, the riders started off at 10 am this morning in Thetford Mines, and immediately moves were made by the teams that missed out in yesterday’s stage, notably the Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin and Colombian National Teams. Every attack was neutralized as the field came together for the first KOM at only 7.7 kilometer into the stage, and Beyer followed Raymond Kreder (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin) across the lead to increase his lead in that competition.
37 kilometers into the stage, two riders Lapthorne and Stetina were off and Cortes started to chase and would finally bridge up over 5 kilometers later.
“Lapthorne and Stetina were already off the front. Today I felt a little bit than yesterday, I felt pretty jetlagged getting in from Europe on Sunday late. I did Memorial Marco Pantani on Saturday, so literally the trip caught up with me yesterday, combined with having a new bike and all the fun jazz. I can’t be anything but happy with this result. The thing about bridging to the break, everybody sat up and kind of looked at each other, I decided to go off the front and nobody followed. Bridging was my job really when I got caught in no man’s land, it was easier to bridge to the break than go back to the pack.” said Cortes.
The BMC team settled in at the front on the field to control the gap. The trio worked well together, taking turns pulling and the gap grew to 3’50″ at the 50-kilometer mark, 5 minutes at the 60-kilometer mark which made Lapthorne the virtual leader on the road as the highest placed rider in the break at 4’45″ from Wyss.
“We had the goal of getting a rider in the break. I thought today was a good opportunity for a break to survive the day so just at the beginning, we were as aggressive as possible and just went at the right time with two guys that were willing to work hard as well. I think in the end, we were quite lucky just to hold off [the peloton].” said Lapthorne.
At the 80-kilometer mark, the race was neutralized to allow the riders to safely cross a wet and slippery wooden bridge. The riders in the break crossed first, and were stopped until the field showed up. The trio was then allowed to leave while the pack was stopped for 5 minutes and 48 seconds which was the gap to the break before the bridge. Stetina’s DS Chann McRae stayed back with the field to make sure that the time gap was kept when the pack was restarted.
“I wasn’t too sure what was happening there for awhile, I’ve never experienced that in a race before. But I think if anything, it probably helped us and gave us a chance to rest for a couple of minutes, the motivation was quite high again, we all worked hard straight after that rest, but yeah it was a bit of a shock.” said Lapthorne about the neutralization.
“You know, it’s kind of funny, I didn’t let it get to me. I think that there’s two ways of approaching it, you can say ‘oh I stopped for two minutes and my heart rate went down’ but there’s also the bonus that our heart rate went down, we got to rest. I think we got the same amount of rest as behind, I think it probably motivated the pack to see us roll away from them, and be stopped there. In both circumstances, I didn’t really feel it. ” explained Cortes.
Even though the gap was almost 6 minutes, the BMC squad didn’t panic and slowly feathered the gap back down, 4’30″ at 101-kilometer mark and 4 minutes with 38 kilometers to go.
Finally, with 25 kilometers to go and a gap of a bit over 3 minutes, the Planet Energy team came to the front to try and bring it back. The Colombian National Team also put in one rider to assist while the other teams were happy to sit back and let Steve Bauer’s boys do all the work. And work they did as the gap was down to 1 minute and 20 seconds as the riders entered the final two 3.4-km circuits in Thetford Mines. The trio was still working together until the final lap when Lapthorne timed his move and made it to the line with three seconds to spare.
“Lapthorne took off on the little false flat about 2.5K to go and I was looking at Stetina at the time, Stetina was looking at me and Lapthorne took off and got about a 150 meter gap which we ended up trying to close but we came up short, I think we missed it by about 20 seconds. I literally didn’t know that the pack was that close behind us until I sat up after the finish line and almost got run over but it’s one of those days.” said Cortes.
Stetina did not show up for the podium ceremony.
What’s next? The monster climb of Mont Megantic during the 155-km stage 3 on Thursday, June 11, starting in St. Georges and culminating at an observatory perched on top of the highest paved road in Quebec. Wyss, who is not known as a great climber will face stiff competition from Darren Lill (Team Type 1) who sits in second on GC at 7 seconds, Ben Day (Fly V Australia) in third at 13 seconds, Scott Zwzanski (Kelly Benefit) also at 13 seconds. If Wyss falters, the BMC team will have to move its GC hopes to Beyer who is at 59 seconds back. One thing for sure, the stage is a perfect playground for the Colombian National Team, and they will be attacking. But can they overcome a 1 minute and 34 seconds to take the yellow jersey? We’ll know tomorrow evening. Other riders to watch for the stage win include Moises Aldape (Team Type 1), Neil Shirley (Kelly Benefit), Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) and Stetina – if his legs have recovered.
Complete results here.
“Megantic is going to be a sufferfest for everybody, I’m going to be in as much pain as the next guy who wins or if I finish dead last, I’ll be in as much pain or maybe a little bit more after today.” said Cortes.[smugmug url="http://www.lynelamoureux.com/hack/feed.mg?Type=gallery&Data=8512647_HzhUq&format=rss200" imagecount="100" start="1" num="100" thumbsize="Th" link="lightbox" captions="false" sort="false" window="false" smugmug="false" size="L"]