The Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery team is in Quebec’s Capitale Nationale this weekend for the Tour de Quebec, a tough five-day stage race that features a mix of criteriums and road races. Team director Michael DeKelver reports.
The Tour de Quebec kicked off with a crowd-friendly spring event in Old Quebec Wednesday, with Stephen Keeping and Australian guest rider Douglas Repacholi representing Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery.
After the media presentations, the action started. Stephen and Doug both advanced from the group of 32 into the heats of 16. Stephen handily took out Canadian criterium champion Pierrick Naud in his heat, only to concede defeat in the round of eight. A fun opening event, but we were happy to head home early in preparation for Stage 1. Click here for results.The first stage was held on a scenic course that covers four loops of 32 km on the eastern point of Ile d’Orleans, with views of the St. Lawrence and and Mont-Ste-Anne. The peloton of 103 riders started under cool, clear skies — perfect for racing. Strong teams meant that breaks were closely monitored, with attacks and counters keeping the speed high over the 140 km. Riders took their turn attacking and seeking the right mix for a group which would work well enough together while being allowed some space from teams in the peloton interested in finishing the race in a sprint.
With the pace high and no breakaway allowed more than a one-minute gap, Stephen found an opportunity in the King of the Mountains sprints and took all three handily, taking the red Mountains jersey which he will wear in the next stage.
In the final 10 km, JS Perron escaped solo and went so hard a chase group of three couldn’t reach him. But the peloton finally reacted, with the sprinters’ teams (Predator and Garneau) closing down his move in the final 3 km.
With the stage finishing in a sprint, Predator, Garneau, and Medici riders filled the podium places while Keeping finished fourth and Matteo Dal-Cin was seventh (click here for the stage results). The result put the team into second place in the team classification.
Friday is a very fast 85 km criterium, and the weekend offers another hard road stage and the finale in the vieux cité.