By Rob Jones, VeloNews Correspondent
Mercury’s Gord Fraser ended his longest winless streak in four years on Tuesday in convincing style, taking the second stage in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce – Canada’s only UCI-sanctioned stage race. Canadian Charles Dionne (7UP-Colorado Cyclist) finished third in the stage, behind Robert Foster of Team Nurnberger. Remegijus Lupeikis of Lithuania, riding for the Mroz-SupraDyn team, replaced his teammate Piotr Chmielewski in the overall leader’s position by 1 second after receiving a time bonus during the stage.
The 162km stage began in Charny, on the outskirts of Quebec City, and headed south through rolling countryside to finish in the village of Beauceville, near the Maine border. The riders began the stage in heavy rain, which gradually tapered off, but did not stop until the final 60km. Jason Crookham (Sympatico.ca) launched an attack in the first 7km and was quickly joined by Andrew Pinfold (Team Canada). Together, the duo stretched their lead to a maximum of four and a half minutes, before Mroz decided to reel them back in.
Crookham left Pinfold at the 84km mark, when the lead was down to 1:35, and managed to hold on until after the second mountain points spot, ensuring that he would take the jersey. After this he backed off and was caught 90km into the stage by the peloton.
Emmanuele Negrini (Cantina Tollo) and Svein Tuft (Team Canada) both made attempts to get away, but by the 20km-to-go mark the field was together and teams began to set up for a sprint finish. Mroz kept the pace high until the final 10km, when Mercury, Navigators and Saturn started their trains. Mercury delivered Fraser to the final kilometer and he hooked onto the Navigator train before launching his winning surge in the final 400 meters.
Fraser’s winless streak stretches back to Redlands in March. While winning a stage in the Tour de Langkawi in February, he broke his wrist. The injury contributed to his victory drought through the early season, and he admitted to being relieved to finally be back on the podium.
“This allows me to take the pressure off myself. It has been mentally exhausting not winning, but now I feel ready to get a (winning) streak going again.”
Stage 2 – Charny to Beauceville, 162 km
1. Gordon Fraser (Can), Mercury-Viatel
2. Robert Foster (G), Team Nurnberger
3. Charles Dionne (Can), 7Up-Colorado Cyclist
4. Vassili Davidenko (Rus), Navigators Cycling Team
5. Elio Aggiano (I), Mapei-Quick Step
6. Bart Herirweah (B), Ville De Charleroi-New Systems
7. David Mckenzie (Aus), Ficonseils-RCC Conseils Assurances
8. Jurgen Werner (G), Team Nurnberger
9. Chris Baldwin (USA), Navigators Cycling Team
10. Soren Petersen (Dk), Saturn
1. Remegijus Lupeikis (Lit), Mroz-Supradyn, 4:36:30
2. Piotr Chmielewski (Pl), Mroz-Supradyn, at 0:01
3. Eugen Wacker (Kgz), Mroz-Supradyn
4. Zbigniew Piatek (Pl), Mroz-Supradyn
5. Raimondas Vilcinskas (Lit) Mroz-Supradyn, all s.t.
6. Soren Petersen (Dk), Saturn, at 0:09
7. Eric Wohlberg (Can), Saturn
8. Zbigniew Wyrzykowski (Pl), Mroz-Supradyn
9. Trent Klasna (USA), Saturn
10. Michael Barry (Can), Saturn, all s.t.