Mike Woods Report from Stage 1 of Tour de Beauce

Mike Woods of the Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery men’s team is racing in the Tour de Beauce with Canadian National Team. The Tour de Beauce is a six-stage stage race that attracts some of the top professional riders in North America. Mike has provided us with a report from Stage 1 of the race – a 162 km stage.

I was told that Tour de Beauce would be a step up from the normal races that I have been doing, but I definitely did not expect it to be this professional. Riding for the National Team has been a real treat. With all of the support from both the race organizers, and our team staff, for the next week, I now realize that, all I have to do is eat, sleep, have the occasional bowel movement, and ride my bike. From laundry, to taking care of my Xenon Warrior Princess, I literally have everything taken care of. A great example of how spoiled we are, was after completing today’s first stage, within moments of crossing the line, I was sitting in a lawn chair, my feet were up on a cooler, I was chowing down on some watermelon, a fresh towel draped around my head, I had a cold Perrier in my chair bottle holder, a ham and cheese sandwich queued up, and Michel, our team Soigneur, was wiping me down with a cold wet cloth: pro.

As for the actual race, today’s stage was a fun one. After cruising around the flat courses of Ontario, and doing a ton of crits, riding on some hills was a pleasant change. The race started off very slow. After 5km of going pretty hard, a breakaway of three men was established, and we the proceeded to cruise for the next 50k, allowing the break to as much as a 7 minute advantage. Without a Canadian team member in the break, at approximately 100K into the race, both Stuart Wight and I were asked to go to the front and help control the breakaway.

I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to help out the crew, and after a few pulls at the front, Svein Tuft came up and called Stuart and I back to the shelter of the peloton. Things stayed pretty calm until we hit some big climbs in the final 40k of the race. These hills really split things up, but I was feeling pretty strong, and moving well through the field. However, right around the 40k I did not make things easy for myself. With the mercury rising, we were going through water bottles pretty fast, so I went back to the team car to pick some up for the crew. This did not go too well. With our team car’s radio down, I had to wait at the back of the peloton as we climbed what was the biggest climb in this stage. By the time our car got to me, I could see breaks forming in the front of the race. This being my second time ever going back to team a car to get bottles, and the first time getting bottles for teammates, I almost botched the bottle pick ups on several occasions. Once I had collected a few, I realized that a significant gap had grown between myself and the peloton.

Now, one of the first things I was taught when I started cycling was that you want to treat your efforts like ammo in a gun; you only have a limited amount of bullets, and with each big surge, you fire a bullet. Well, in order to get back into the peloton, I used every bullet I had. I did manage to bridge back up to the group, and I was pretty stoked that I was able to make it back, and get a bottle to some of the guys.

For the rest of the race, I just went into survival mode. With the breakaway brought back, and without much in the legs for the sprint, I decided to lay low, and conserve as much as I could for the next day. Things got pretty quick at the end of the race, and I was gapped, but due to a crash in the field, I was lucky enough to be awarded the same time as the winner. Unfortunately, Nic Hamilton, one of my teammates, was a victim to this crash, but the team did perform great on the day. Christian Meier sprinted well for 4th, and we fished 2nd overall in the team race. Not too shabby for day one.

Stay tuned for more race reports through-out the Tour de Beauce from Mike.