Quebec city native Charles Dionne (Fly V Australia) was a very disappointed man yesterday when he finished second in the St-Georges Criterium. Well, today, he played his cards right, joined the right break on the second lap in the 125-kilometer circuit race in la Ville de Quebec and timed his sprint to win stage 5 at the Tour de Beauce. Second placed went to his teammate Alessandro Bazzana, who was also sprinting full gas when Dionne came around him, and third place went to Brazilian Otavio Bougarelli (Garneau-Club Chaussures).
“This feels really good. I had number 77 and it’s my seventh win of the year so it feels pretty good, it’s my hometown, it’s where I train all the time. ” said Dionne.
The Kelly Benefit Strategies squad of leader Scott Zwizanski rode the front of the peloton all day, and Zwizanski survived the attacks on the steep climb in the final laps from the Colombian National Team to keep the GC lead with one stage to go. It was touch and go for awhile as Bjorn Selander (Trek-Livestrong) was the virtual leader on the road before the Colombian Team came to the front to help chase the break down and protect their podium spots.
In the final two laps, Zwizanski had one teammate with him, Neil Shirley with the three Colombians ready to put pressure on him.
“I had Neil there with me, he took care of me in the last lap.” said Zwizanski. “They attacked us a lot but we were able to hold on alright. The last time up the hill was the hardest by far but I minimized out losses. Three Colombians in there, they had one kid driving it really fast and the other two guys got a bit of time on me unfortunately. The plan is to do the same tomorrow.”
In the final tally, Zwizanski lost some seconds in his lead which is down to 51 seconds ahead of Sergio Luis Henao (Colombian National Team). Darwin Atapuma is third at 1:12 back followed by Chris Jones (Team Type 1) at 1:56 down.
Just the facts. Attacks started immediately on the first straightaway on the backside of the first lap with Keven Lacombe (Planet Energy), Dan Craven (Rapha Condor) and Benjamin King (Trek Livestong) giving it a go but they were all brought back.
On the second lap, Rapha Condor came to the front to try and break things up, and 6 riders were off which included Cam Evans (Canadian National Team), Jackson Stewart and Danilo Wyss both of BMC, Valeryi Kobzarenko (Team Type 1). Wyss collected two more sprint points won by Sergio Luis Henao (Columbian Natl team) in is quest to win the white jersey. But the break was brought back almost immediately,
Finally on the third lap, the field shattered on the climb under pressure by the KOM where the break that would stick to the end was created.
The 14-rider group included Evans, Selander, Steve Bovay & Tony Cruz (BMC Racing), Caleb Fairly (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin), Simon Richardson (Rapha Condor), Bazzana & Dionne, Wiliam Munoz et William Rodriguez (Colombian National Team), Matt Wilson & Ian MacGregor (Team Type 1), and Derrick St-John & Otavio Bougarelli (Garneau-Club chaussure). The two highest placed riders on GC were Selander at 5:19 and Bovay at 6:05.
Rodriguez dropped out of the lead group when befelled by a flat on the backside, and his teammate refused to work at that point. Planet Energy duo of Keven Lacombe and Bruno Langlois was off and would join forces with Rodriguuz but the trio neven made contact and sat up after a lap. At kilometer 53, Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) pulled out of the race due to a crash – no more information at this point.
The pressure was on the Kelly Benefit squad as the gap grew and reached a time of over five minutes but then they received assistance from the Colombian National Team riders who came to the front to protect their two podium positions.
The 12-riders in the front worked well together (well except for Munoz) until two laps to go when the cat-and-mouse games started. Richardson Cruz and St-John gave it a go only to be brought back with one lap to go. In the final lap, under multiple attacks the break as Evans tried multiple times to drop his breakmates.
“I figured if I could get away, hopefully they could maybe cat and mouse a bit behind but the problem was too many guys in that group had teammates, so it wasn’t really going to happen, the group was kind of too big for that to happen. The final climb, I threw in a couple of attacks, I was pretty gassed once we hit the bottom, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to contend. ” said Evans who’s fastest speed on the course was 76 km/hour.
On the final climb, St-John attacked, was brought back and Bazzana surged out just before the left turn and quickly got a 10 seconds gap and continued to climb solo but the men behind him started to slowly gain on him. Dionne launched his sprint on the false flat at the top and surged pass his teammate just before the finish line, Bazzana did not look happy on the podium.
“Garneau rider attacked, Henk Vogels was yelling on the radio, “Chase, Chase Baz”, he wasn’t going, he was waiting. When I saw him go at the bottom of the climb, I thought he was going to made it to the line, he flew away, I had told him where to go. I was patient, I waited, finally I attacked at the right moment, at the speed I was carrying, I knew that I was going to pass him. We made 1-2 on the podium”
One more stage to go and everyone tells me that this one is tougher than the Quebec Circuit Race. Another circuit race, this time in St-Georges, where the riders race 12 laps around an 11-km course in downtown Saint-Georges which of course includes a climb.
“Tomorrow, we’ll see how the legs are I guess. The GC isn’t one hundred percent decided at this point, it’s a super hard course to defend on and it’s the type of course where three guys away is almost just as fast as a team on the front. There’s only so many opportunities to chase.” said Evans about the St-Georges circuit and he should know as he won it previously.
“I think, my guys are all strong, I hear tomorrow is a bit harder but we responded well to the pressure today and I think we can do it one more time. We’re not going to go out without a fight. ” said Zwizanski.
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