Though there was shuffliing and re-shuffling at the front which saw many riders trying to escape, it was nevertheless a sprint finish for the 140.7km stage 1 of the Coupe des Nations Saguenay. Arman Kamyshev (Kazhakstan) edged out Patrick Clausen (Danemark) for the win with Thomas Fiumana (Italy) taking third. The finish was marred by a crash that took down a third of the field, disrupting leadout trains at 1.3km to go. All riders except three in the 88-rider peloton were given the same time as the winner.
By grabbing bonus seconds in the first two intermediate sprints and at the finish, Clausen in in yellow with a two-second lead on Kamyshev.
The field was greeted by unusual cold weather, highs of 13C (55 F) and rain for the 12pm (noon) EDT start. The espoirs raced seven times around a 20-km loop with 140 meters of climbing each lap and a final uphill finish.
“It was a hard day. There was a lot of wind, the rain was annoying so we had to slow down towards the end.” Kamyshev told fqsc, through an interpreter. “In the last part of the final lap, I attacked a few times to stay well positioned with the sprint coming up.”
Second overall last year, Kamyshev wants the top step of the podium at the end of the four days of racing.
Finishing fifth, Hugo Houle was the highest-placed Canadian on the stage and sits in 12th overall at 12 seconds down. Though he finished 78th on the stage, American Tanner Putt is 10th overall, at 11 seconds down by virtue of a one-second time bonus garnered on the first intermediate sprint.
Early in the stage, Evan Huffman (USA) took a solo flyer but was soon reeled back. Riders making their way into breaks included Eduardo Sepulveda (UCI), Thomas Moses (GBR), Nathan Brown (USA), Vegard Breen (NOR), Alexis Gougeard (FRA), Pawel Bernas (POL), Asbjorn Andersen (DEN) and Sebastian Salazar (COL). But nothing stuck and by the seventh lap, the field was all together getting ready for the final sprint.
For the fifth year, the Saguenay region in Quebec welcomes the only race of the Coupe des Nations U23 series to take place outside of Europe. In teams of six, the world’s best 19 to 22 years old cyclists race not only for the victory but to gain as many UCI points as they can, which will allow their country to have as many riders as possible for the Road World Championship.
Canada’s roster: Antoine Duchesne, Stuart Wight, Pierrick Naud, Hugo Houle, Ryan Aitcheson and David Boily.
USA’s roster: Nathan Brown, Evan Huffman, Jos Chalmers, Tanner Putt, Joseph Schmalz and Charlie Avis.
Racing continues on Friday June 1 with the 151-km stage 2 starting in La Baie at 12:00 pm (noon) EDT. The racers will face a 15.1-km loop with two main difficulties, the first, a 1.8-km climb at 0.2 km into the loop with a 5% grade average, and the second at kilometer 6, is a 5.5-km descent at 3%.
Stage 1 complete results here