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First of all, I know you just mispronounced it in your head, so I’ll explain that “Beauce” rhymes “dose.” It’s a region of Quebec, just north of the border (we actually flew in to Vermont to save a few bucks). I always knew that there was a place called Quebec, and they speak French there, but it was interesting to finally experience it first-hand. I guess I’d expected it to be like New England culturally, only with everything in French, but in fact, it was pretty much France: food, people, architecture, etc.
If you’re planning a trip to Paris, unless you really want to see the Eiffel Tower or the Mona Lisa (which everyone says is disappointing in person, anyway), save yourself a headache and drive up to Quebec City instead. I’d say the main difference between Quebec and France is that when you’re driving along the Riviera, you don’t have to watch out for moose. That said, I didn’t get to see any moose this week. I was pretty sure I saw a bear win stage 6, but it turned out to be Svein Tuft.
The first day was an odd start to the stage race. I bridged to an early break that didn’t look dangerous, but we only had one out of seven guys, so someone had to do it. Ten minutes later, I looked back, and all the big hitters in the race had arrived, including teammate Ben Day, which made three Kenda riders total. UHC and Team Type 1 chased for a bit because they didn’t have the numbers they wanted in the 20-man split, but there was too much horsepower up the road. Eventually the chase gave up, and our group took 22 minutes out of them over the 100 hilly miles, and the GC race was over for most of the field.
For the next few days, we endured a never-ending series of incredibly steep, short hills, on long, straight roads. Whoever made the roads here just put two points on a map, cut down all the trees in between, and put up a few “Watch for Moose” signs. Every time you’d get to the top, you could see the next kicker two miles away, and you’d hear a collective groan from the field.
Stage 2 was the only field sprint. This “flat” stage had 8,000 feet of climbing over 100 miles. Shawn Milne came through for us, as usual, and ended up second by a few inches. Stage 3 was the decisive mountaintop stage. The field split apart instantly, and I was in a small group of climbers. We all watched Mancebo, knowing he was going to drop us at some point, and then he dropped us, and we watched him (from a slight distance) win the stage and take yellow.
Stage 4 was a rolling out-and-back time trial, mostly downhill on the way out, and mostly uphill coming back. I used to be a good time trialist, but it’s been awhile since I had a reason to throw down in a TT that suited me (usually I’m softpedaling because I’m not in the GC and trying to save my legs, or it’s at altitude and I can’t breathe). Still, I shocked myself and everyone else by finishing fourth, putting time on everyone that was ahead of me on GC, and moving from 10th to fifth overall. I got a new bike, which probably helped, but I don’t exactly know how I did that, and I’m looking forward to the next big TT to see if I can do it again.
Stage 5 was a circuit race through Quebec City. Not much to it, except for a steep 1.5k up to the finish, which was a good chance for all the GC guys to go really hard and chase each other down for no time gain. The early break stayed away that day, and Jake sprinted for fifth.
The final stage was a tough circuit race, which twisted, turned, and climbed right past the hotel. I think it’s cruel to make us pass 50 feet from our beds every lap, but I held on to the front group, while Tuft and Team Spidertech went crazy attacking all day. Svein got a well-deserved stage win, and picked up the seconds he needed to move up to third on GC, knocking me back to sixth.
As usual, any time you don’t win, you think about the places you lost time and regret it, but I’m pretty happy with the result overall. It was my first time racing for GC at an event of this caliber, the team did a great job babysitting me, and I learned some lessons I’ll get to apply in a few weeks at Cascade, where I intend to win the overall.
We’re now dragging the trailer back to America. At the border, they ask questions about what you’re bringing, including “Is anyone carrying more than $10,000 in cash?” Jim Stemper replied “I have a dollar. And I left my credit card at the Olive Garden.” The pro cycling life is pretty awesome.
Phil Gaimon, 25, is a VeloNews magazine columnist and third-year pro racer for Kenda-5 Hr Energy Presented by Gear Grinder. He has an English degree from the University of Florida, and owns online stores at podiumcycling.com and sharethedamnroad.com.