This past weekend I had the extreme fortune and pleasure to act as directeur sportif for the Bikereg.com/Cannondale amateur team in their trip up north to race in the Tour of Quebec. They are an excellent group of lads whose goal is to be the number one ranked amateur team in the United States. They are well on their way.
Some of you may remember that before I came to Finkraft I had been the manager and director of a local U-25 team for a few years. This was the best experience of my life. Being able to teach developing riders about racing and how to handle all aspects of life on the road, both literally and figuratively. Well, I was equally excited to be asked to help out for this four day, five stage event in and around the City of Quebec.
With only five riders (the sixth was home nursing injury) on board, we made the long drive on Wednesday to the race hotel at Mount Ste Anne; famous for its mountain bike races. The first stage was the next day on the Il d’Orleans, a windswept farming community in the middle of the Lawrence River. The race was a major success with the lads taking 2nd and 4th along with the climbers jersey. The raced very “heads up” always initiating or following attacks so that the pressure was on the other teams to respond.
Friday morning saw a tail wind driven 5.1 km time trial with speeds over 60kph. Crazy fast. The team took 4th and 5th, but only by 0.2 seconds to the GC leader, a Canadian strong man. That afternoon was a very hard and fast criterium. Now this was fun. Justin Lindine made the race an absolute horror show for everyone else. Literally constantly on the attack, Justin put so much pressure on the GC leader that he completely burned up the other team one by one! Only 20 riders finished on the lead lap from an original 115, and all five of them were Bikereg. Very nice.
On Saturday, the rain came. With the course around the old Garneau RR loop, the pressure was on the local riders to score, but no such luck. Things were getting edgy all around including with the team staff. They were trying to sabotage us, and several pushing matches and umbrella fights started in the feed zone. Not to worry, I am a professional. Cold, wet and windy, Josh bridged up to a faltering breakaway about mid way through the race. He did this by having two riders constantly attack again to tire out the favorites and other strong riders. Once a low placed break got up the road, he then used two other teammates to make a finish sprint type leadout going into a steep hill. He launched off that lead to attack and bridge up to the break; attacked the break solo, and hold off for the stage win and snatch the overall lead. Very nice indeed.
Sundays final stage was no joke. It was 17 turns of a 5.7 km loop with a 800 meter long 21% hill each loop. Yes, you read that correctly. Ouch. One of the riders, Thom, had been so active in attacking and covering all week that he was in third place for the Maillot Noir, or the black jersey for the most combative rider. It was on the shoulders of a rider from a French team, and they looked pretty serious. We discuss it and how there were sprints early on the first and third lap into the race. He scored on both times and then settled into sitting on a small breakaway until the next sprint on the 11th lap. He easily took that and secured the jersey. Amazing. Meanwhile, back in the field, the race was down to about 15 riders when Justin covered an attack at about 80kph with 2 to go. This blew up the rest of the riders and only 5 were left with Josh sitting pretty. He basically led the finale and sat on the back of the small sprint to take the overall win. It was really great.
With such a small team, I had multiple duties as cook, soigneur, directeur, manager, mechanic and chief bottle washer. But watching them race so well and take the overall win was worth every sleepless moment. There were lots of strong riders there that weekend, and it took smart racing to take the win. Congrats to the lads for a great showing.
One final note: it was the first time I had ever been to Quebec. What a beautiful place with a real European feel. The people were nice and the weather and scenery just awesome. We do suspect however, that polar bears roam the streets come winter, but with a passport, we can just cross back down to safety!