Stage 6b: Saint-Georges criterium, 64 km
By Robert Jones, VeloNews Correspondent
Gord Fraser and his Mercury team finally got the win at the Grand PrixCycliste de Beauce that they have been searching for all week, however, to do it he had to hold off Charles Dionne (7Up-Nutra Fig). Michael Rogers (Mapei-Quick Step) finished safely in the pack, and the stage produced no significant changes to the general classification.
After being robbed of the chance for victory in the morning stage, when a mix up sent the enter peloton off course in the final 300 meters, the sprinters were anxious for a last chance to claim a stage before tomorrow’s concluding road race. Therefore, nothing was allowed to gain more then a hundred meters before being hauled back.
Eric Wohlberg (Saturn) was very persistent, as was the 2000 criterium winner, Mark Walters (Navigators), but Mercury and Mapei controlled everything, setting the stage for the final sprint.
Fraser went to the front after the third (of four) turns, since the line was only 150 meters after the final corner, but Dionne came shooting through on the outside to take the lead as the riders entered the final straightaway.
It looked like the locally born Dionne was going to take a hugely popular victory, but Fraser came from behind to pip him at the line. The finish was so close that the judges delayed announcing the winner while they reviewed the tape.
Fraser was happy with his win, but “it should have been two for two…”
Dionne was disappointed at not being able to give his fans the win they were looking for.
“It was too close for me, I thought I had it. We were both side by side, dragging down the road – it was clean, beautiful bike racing. At least I was able to prove that, with a good team behind me, to lead me out; I’m up there with Gord.”
Tomorrow the Grand Prix concludes with a very tough road race of 144 kilometers. This will be the last chance for Prime Alliance to wrest the leader’s jersey from Rogers.
“Tomorrow is hard”, said the race leader, “but I’ve got a strong team behind me. I’m confident.”
1. Gord Fraser (Can) Mercury 1:25:02;
2. Charles Dionne (Can) 7UP Nutra Fig;
3. Jay Sweet (Aus) Saturn;
4. Allan Davis (Aus) Mapei – Quick Step;
5. Andrew Pinfold (Can) Atlas Cold-Ital Pasta CC;
6. Vassili Davidenko (Rus) Navigators;
7. Soren Petersen (Den) Saturn;
8. Michal Precechtel (Cze) Wüstenrot – Zvvz;
9. Andy Cappelle (Bel) Marlux – Ville de Charleroi;
10. David McKenzie (Aus) IteamNova.com;
11. Damon Kluck (USA) Saturn;
12. Danny Pate (USA) Prime Alliance;
13. Mark Walters (Can) Navigators;
14. Petr Bencik (Cze) Wüstenrot – Zvvz;
15. Sasa Sviben (Slo) Nürnberger – Versicherung;
16. Martin Gilbert (Can) Volkswagen – Trek;
17. Dominique Rollin (Can) Sympatico – Jet Fuel Coffee;
18. Holger Sievers (Ger) Nürnberger – Versicherung;
19. Henk Vogels (Aus) Mercury;
20. Michael Rogers (Aus) Mapei – Quick Step all s.t.
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) Mapei – Quick Step, 16:49:21;
2. Matt Decanio (USA) Prime Alliance, at 0:36;
3. Lubor Tesar (Cze) Nürnberger – Versicherung, 0:42;
4. Artour Babaitsev (Rus) Nürnberger – Versicherung, 0:45;
5. Danny Pate (USA) Prime Alliance, 0:53;
6. Thomas Liese (Ger) Nürnberger – Versicherung, 1:02;
7. Phil Zajicek (USA) Mercury, 1:09;
8. Christian Werner (Ger) Nürnberger – Versicherung, 1:36;
9. Christian Poos (Lux) Marlux – Ville de Charleroi, 1:45;
10. Eric Wohlberg (Can) Saturn, 2:21;
11. Petr Bencik (Cze) Wüstenrot – Zvvz, 2:29;
12. Soren Petersen (Den) Saturn, 2:46;
13. Tim Johnson (USA) Saturn, 2:47;
14. Mark Walters (Can) Navigators, 3:14;
15. Jose Rujano (Ven) Tecos – Turbo, 3:37;
16. Francois Parisien (Can) Volkswagen – Trek, 3:58;
17. Martin Laciak (Cze) Wüstenrot – Zvvz, 4:04;
18. Arquimedes Lam (Mex) Tecos – Turbo, 4:21;
19. Leonardo Zanotti (Ita) Mapei – Quick Step, 4:30;
20. Damon Kluck (USA) Saturn, 4:34