Scott Zwizanski of the Kelly Benefit Strategies squad survived the final tough stage, the 130-kilometer circuit in St-Georges to claim the yellow jersey at the UCI 2.2 Tour de Beauce, his second UCI stage race victory this year as he also won the Tour of Uruguay in April. The Colombian National Team had two riders in shouting distance of the overall win with Sergio Luis Henao in second place at only 51 seconds back, and Darwin Atapuma at 72 seconds back.
“Everybody fought us, that’s racing. This is a cool race, it’s almost like a one day race everyday this stage race.” said Zwizanski.
So when did he know that he had won his second stage race of the year? Both Zwizanski and his right-hand man Neil Shirley said the same thing: with one lap to go. Yes, it was that tight.
“When we finally caught them back in the last lap, I knew I wouldn’t lose fifty seconds to them in one climb.”
The unusual tactics of the Colombian team splintered the peloton in the early laps of the 12 loops and the incessant attacks kept the pace high and riders were dropping left and right including support riders for both the Kelly Benefit and the Colombian teams. In the end, only 37 riders finished the race.
“The Colombians attacked every climb. I used my teammates a lot, I think they started running out of gas towards the end, it got windier and windier as the race went through so it made it harder. With ten laps to go, I didn’t know.” said Zwizanski.
Most teams wanted a break to go but the Colombians tried to bridge across to every move which forced the peloton to chase them down. Then on every lap, on the climb to the start/finish area, the Colombians would fly up the road, getting a small gap which forced a chase on the backside of the course.
“The plan was to let a break go, but everything that went, we had to be in so basically it was full gas all the way. I had Neil who was the one that was there the longest for me all day, he held back on the climbs so he could help chase them back every time. We had help a couple of times, like from Rapha-Condor, they chased a couple of times, one time Trek-Livestrong was helping because their guy Selander was in our group, so a couple of times we had some help, but for the most part my guys just climbed with me, and turned me back after the climbs.” said Zwizanski.
This scenario was repeated time and time again when on lap 8, the elastic broke. A 9-rider break did go that included Haneo and Atapuma. The gap started to grow and went up to 30 seconds and the Kelly Benefit squad used up its remaining riders to reel them in with three laps to go. At that point, Zwizanski only had one teammate Shirley to help him in the final laps and finally with one lap to go, he knew he had won the overall.
Right-hand man. “Neil Shirley was one of the biggest reason I won today.” said Zwizanski.
In the final two stages, the difficult circuit races in Quebec City and in St-Georges, the Kelly Benefit Strategies squad pulled itself inside out to defend the jersey against all attacks. With some of the guys still suffering from crashes at Philly last Sunday, Neil Shirley was the last man standing with Zwizanski, pacing him up the climbs and chasing everything down.
“It was the hardest I think that I have ever done because there was so much at stake, it wasn’t just I want to hang and hopefully go for a stage win and hold on to my top 10 GC, we were going for the win. And, I was the guy when it down to just myself and Zwiz, I was the guy that had to make sure that everything rolled back. Zwiz was awesome, he got better in the last couple of laps which was good, the field was getting a little more tired which was good to see and we stayed about the same, we were able to follow wheels on the climb and then hit it on the descent and roll back to the front group.” said Shirley.
Stage winner: a crit specialist. On the final lap, Australian Bernie Sulzberger (Fly V Australia) jumped away from the shattered front group and motored away with only Bjorn Selander (Trek-Livestrong) catching up to him. The two riders made their way up the final climb with a spent Selander staying on the Australian’s wheel giving Fly V Australia, their second stage win at the Tour de Beauce. Danilo Wyss (BMC) won the sprint out of the lead group for third place.
“I attacked from two kilometers [on the last lap] after the finish along the back stretch. The Trek-Livestrong guy came across to me with 3 or 4 k to go, he was going okay and then on the hill he couldn’t do anymore. I did a little bit of the hill and he sat on.” said Sulzberger.
“One guy goes off and then everyone is sitting up and I’m like ‘I’m not going to have any of that’, so I attacked and bridged up to him and then we worked good together. I drilled myself in the ground, made this climb and he was climbing so fast, I just couldn’t come around him in the end. ” said Selander about the final lap.
The BMC Team was very aggressive throughout the race, sending riders up the road in multiple moves and counter-moves and also went for the two intermediate sprints to put Wyss on top in the points classification.
The Colombian National Team riders Henao kept the red best young rider jersey and finished second in the overall, and Atapuma who finished third in the overall won the polka-dot KOM classification. The Fly V Australia team took home the overall team classification.
Just the facts. The attacks started immediately from the get-go as every team wanted to be in the break.
“We thought that there it was going to be like yesterday and a break was going to go and stay away but it didn’t happen like that, the break just kept coming back. It was so aggressive today with the Colombians attacking and Team Type 1 riders, the break wasn’t successful in staying away but we were in every break [that tried to go]. ” said Sulzberger.
“The plan was to make sure we would watch over me, and keep me up there. I wasn’t feeling so well, so the guys worked so good for me, I am so happy to have such a strong team and they’re just so awesome. They buried themselves, I told myself if they can bury themselves for me, I have to come away with something for them. ” said Selander who finished fifth overall.
On the first lap, William Rodriguez (Colombia), Moises Aldape (Team Type 1) and Bruno Langlois (Planet Energy) gave it go, only to be brought back and the first move by the BMC team was launched with Jackson Stewart going for one of his many attacks of the day. At the end of the second lap, the peloton was back together with many riders dropping back or dropping out of the race – the familiar refrain that we would hear time and time again on race radio.
On the third lap, BMC’s Martin Kohler, Rapha-Condor’s Ben Greenwood and Aldape got a small gap before being brought back and the counter-move created a small group with Henao, Apatuma and Zwizanski at the front. Once again by the bottom of the climb, the field was back together, and on and on.
On the fourth lap, Aldape went again, this time joined by Danilo Wyss (BMC) and Alex Howes (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin). A fourth rider, Cam Evans (Canada National Team) bridged up to them and the boys were off for the next few laps getting a gap of 45 seconds. The Colombians tried to bridge, Kelly Benefit stayed on the wheel, and the field shattered before the break was reeled in.
In a counter-attack Darren Lill (Team Type 1) launched off the front solo, Stewart and Evans started to chase. Sitting in 5th spot on GC, Lill was a danger to Atapuma’s placing and the Colombians chased hard bringing a few other riders with them but no Kelly Benefit. The danger break.
Finally with three laps to go, the field, if we can call it that, was back together before Darren Lapthorne (Rapha-Condor) went on a solo flyer. One lap later, stage 2 winner Lapthorne had a gap of 45 seconds to the first chase group that included Tony Cruz (BMC), Stewart, Lill, Otavio Bulgarelli (Garneau-Club Chaussure), Scott Davis (Fly V Australia). The yellow jersey Zwizanski was in a second group not far behind with his right-hand man Shirley.
The final lap became every man for himself.
“I’m pretty light at the moment, so I can go on the climbs good, when it’s not so long I can hang on. This one is not too steep either so it’s more power, I did better on this one than yesterday.” said Australian Crit Champion Sulzberger who was able to stay with the select group until the end.
Complete results here
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