LUCA BENEDETTI WINS OPENING STAGE AT TOUR DE BEAUCE
By Réal Labbé
SAINTE-JUSTINE – Italian Luca Benedetti, winner of the polka dot jersey at the Grand Prix de Saguenay last week, won Wednesday the first stage of the Tour de Beauce in Sainte-Justine.
The Amore & Vita rider edged at the sprint Eric Young (Optum-Kelly Benefits), winner of two stages at the Grand prix cycliste du Saguenay, Asbjorn Kragh (Christina Watches) jersey for the best young keeper in Saguenay, Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk) and Jure Kocjan (Smartstop), winner of the Grand Prix du Saguenay.
The race started out with a bang with a breakaway after just five kilometers and a teammate of Benedetti, Leonardo Pinizotto, was there. The group of five riders included Rémi Pelletier-Roy (Garneau-Quebecor). After the first of four loops of 50 km of road racing, the break comprised of 10 riders had a lead of almost 12 minutes on the peloton.
As the peloton worked to narrow the gap, team Optum did a lot of work. “We would have liked the other teams to help us,” said Young. “The team rode hard to catch up on the breakaway. Hats off to our riders who have done a great job. This is a big week for us and we are preparing for tomorrow’s Mégantic stage. Our goal is to bring Carter Jones atop the standings.”
For Luca Benedetti, the scenario of the race was perfect. “This stage was designed for me,” he indicated through his manager Phil Cortes. “We had a rider in the break (Pinizotto) and we organized to help. Then in turn he tried to help us by slowing down the tempo. It’s just my sixth professional race and I did not expect to win. I am very happy with this victory. I dedicate it to my team, to our sponsors whose Faninni family and my athletic director Phil because he comes from Canada.”
As an amateur, the Italian won 11 races last year and four this year. “We had to look for a long time,” says Phil Cortes. “His amateur record speaks, but we did not want to rush to invite him to join us especially since his wife gave birth to a child in March.”
Rémi Pelletier-Roy did feature the colors of the Garneau-Quebecor jersey for most of the race part of the breakaway. “It was a tough day at the office and it was expected with one less stage this year at the Tour de Beauce. We did very well in the Saguenay and wanted to continue here. We wanted to have someone in the break. On the last lap, we gambled that if we slowed the pace, the pack would also decrease its speed. That was not the case. Then there were breaks in our group. I am convinced that had we had stayed everyone together, we would have reached the finish line ahead of the peloton. For the following days we will see how everything unfolds. There are seven guys in the team so we can share the workload. I'm happy for the team and for me. That makes me 22 days of racing in 28 days. I'm trying to recover. »
The second stage will be spectacular with the departure of the municipality of Lac-Mégantic, where many will present for the first time after the disastrous train derailment. The finish line is at the top of Mount St. Joseph, adjacent to Mont Mégantic.