Champion System Pro Cycling Team’s Craig Lewis soloed to victory out of a three-man breakaway that enjoyed more than 100 kilometers of freedom Wednesday on Stage 2 of the Tour de Beauce.
Lewis, runner-up Jamie Sparling (Raleigh GAC) and Alexander Serebryakov (Team Type 1-Sanofi) escaped a little more than 40 kilometers into the 159.7 km race and never enjoyed more than a four-minute lead. The trio held off the chasing efforts of race leader Francisco Mancebo and his Competitive Cyclist team, with Lewis beating Sparling by five seconds. Serebryakov crossed the line just ahead of Champion System’s Matthias Friedeman, who led home a reduced peloton of 54 riders 29 seconds after Lewis.
“This couldn’t mean more to me,” Lewis said. “You always doubt your comeback until you have that one day, and today was that day for me. It’s been a long road, but it felt pretty darn good to cross the line first today.”
A little more than a year ago, Lewis fractured his right femur and broke two ribs in a high-speed crash in Stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia. His recovery process included a complex bone graft operation in December. The 27-year-old, Boulder, Colo., resident enjoyed his biggest moment since winning the Under 23 national road race and criterium in 2006 and his first individual race win in eight seasons as a professional.
Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said the team’s third victory is a big boost for the squad that is Asia’s first pro continental team. Lewis added to wins by Will Clarke May 20 at the prologue of the Tour of Japan and Clinton Avery on May 31 at the BaseCamp International race presented by Verizon Wireless in Basking Ridge, N.J.
“Even more importantly I think this is a great accomplishment for Craig,” Beamon said. “I think this will do a lot for his confidence and it shows that the hard work and dedication in rehabilitating his leg has paid off. We are all really happy for him.”
With his win, Lewis climbed into second overall, three seconds behind Mancebo, while Friedemann is fourth, six seconds off the lead. A third Champion System rider, Adiq Othman, finished 17th and donned the best young rider jersey.
“We targeted this stage and felt we needed to make the race hard,” Beamon said. “The goal was to get Craig, Clinton or Will in the break. Clinton was an animal in the first hour and was in at least four breaks. But none had the right mix and as the field started to tire, Craig punched it on one of the short climbs and they were gone.”
Thursday’s 164 km stage features a summit finish at Mont-Mégantic.