Race report: Crashes and podiums in Quebec

Matteo Dal-Cin

Matteo Dal-Cin

The Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery team was in Quebec’s Capitale Nationale on July 24-28  for the Tour de Quebec, a tough five-day stage race that features a mix of criteriums and road races. The team was well positioned after the prologue and Stage 1. Matteo Dal-Cin reports on stages 2 to 4.

Stage 2 – July 26, 2013
85-km Criterium — St-Augustin

Stage 2 of the Tour of Quebec featured a flat open criterium around the factories in the Leclerc business park in Ste Augustin, where the Louis Garneau factory is located.

The team’s plan for the night was to stay out of trouble and be attentive to any moves that posed a threat to gain time in the GC.

After the opening laps it was fairly evident that the speed of the race was going to prevent any real breaks from forming as the open course allowed for fresh legs to move to the front at will and up the pace to bring anyone brave enough to attempt an attack back into the fold.

Our plan to stay in good GC position was panning out well, the plan to not crash was not going as smoothly. Marc Boudreau was caught up in a high-speed crash and I piled into the group too, with a number of other Stevens riders nearly going down as well. I was OK with only a small cut in my hand but Marc suffered a much worse crash and was forced to abandon the tour along with about five others that were involved.

The race finished in a sprint with Dougie Repacholi finishing sixth on the day and the the rest of the team rolling in on equal time or very close to it. Click here for full results.

Stage 3 – July 27, 2013
143-km Road Race, Cote de la Racette, St-Augustin

Stage 3 saw us taking on the cote Racette 13 times in a circuit race of 11 km per lap. The climb was not very long but did pull at about 15% at its steepest and was followed up with a long false flat to the finish and a technical section through a residential neighborhood.

The attacks were numerous in the opening laps and with Stephen Keeping in the KOM jersey he was attentive to try and make the break to secure the points needed to clinch the jersey. Anton Varebei went on a solo move on the first ascent of the hill and rode solo until he was joined on the next time up by three breakaway companions — two from Bike Reg and one from Ekoi. With Garneau and Predator not represented and those two teams having the best GC riders at the moment onus was on them to ride tempo to keep the break in check.

Unfortunately for us we did not land a rider in the break and there were enough points on offer for the KOM that if one rider took all 4 climbs he would take the jersey. The day drew on and the break hovered between one and two minutes. Derrick St-John and JS Perron tried a tag team attack on about lap five but were quickly joined by a few Garneau riders that disrupted the work ethic of the move and they were brought back.

Around three-quarters of the way into the race I tried to escape the group and bridge to the break. I went from the bottom of the hill and kept pressing on all the way through the technical section to the open exposed road at the top of the course. I was maybe half way across the gap at best and was fading, the group let me hang out there for a bit before catching me on the descent.

We were now coming into the closing laps and the break soldiered on. We were a little nervous as the final KOM was approaching and we didn’t know how the points were being split among the lead riders. Going into the KOM lap there was only Anton left up the road and Steve went for the points but the group did not catch Anton until after the finish and after the race we would get the bad news that he had collected enough points to prise the jersey from our hands.

Going into the last lap of the race we climbed the cote the quickest so far in the race and a group of two Garneaus, a Predator and an Ekoi slipped away through the finish straight. I knew this could be bad for us and as soon as a door opened I attacked and started to bridge up to them. I was joined by Dougie and a Bike Reg rider and we closed the gap to the group up the road. With all big teams now represented the breakaway riders did not want to work together as no one was going to gain significantly from it.

Going into the cote for the finishing sprint Dougie and I were near the back with Keeping  after our little escape effort on the upper section of the lap. As we hit the base of the climb a door opened on the steep interior of the left hand turn and all three of us hit it hard up the short steep line passing from nearly last wheel to near the front in the space of 20 m of road. I continued my effort as the climb tapered down to more of a false flat for the final 200m to the line. From here I’m not really sure what happened but I passed some people, people passed me and it hurt. Dougie finished second, I was fifth and Steve was ninth on the stage. As an added bonus, Derrick was awarded the most aggressive prize for the stage.

Stage 4 – July 28, 2013
68-km criterium, Quebec City

The final stage was in downtown Quebec city and was a technical crit course with a fair amount of elevation each lap. From my experience last year this course would decimate the pack and the race could be won or lost on this day.

The race went from the gun with attacks, chases and counters. It was very hard for the first 10 laps and when I looked behind me with 40 laps to go there was only about half the starters left in the field.

JS suffered a crash early in the race but got back up to join the race one lap later. With the field whittled down to about 20 guys and having lapped other groups what seemed like numerous times we still had five Stevens riders in the front group.

Doug was a part of a break that consisted of all the top 5 riders except the leader Emile Abraham who was forced to do a long and seemingly painful chase to conserve his jersey and a chance at the stage.

When Doug’s group was finally caught JS went on the attack with about eight laps to go and opened a solid gap very quickly. The Predator boys and Antoine Duchesne started to chase and with about three laps to go finally reeled in the Bûcheron. The race was decided in a sprint with Emile taking the victory and Doug coming in a strong second. JS won the most aggressive rider jersey for the day for his breakaway and the wounds were fitting for his podium shoot. Click here for stage results.

Doug’s consistent stage finishes landed him in third overall, while Keeping was fifth, Matteo sixth and Derrick ninth. Click here for overall results.

Click here for photos from the race.

Click here for videos from the race.