Somewhat of a weird stage is what could describe today’s 140 mountain dual. 3:28 was the difference between Cameron Evans and climbing sensation, Flober Pena Pena. If things worked out our way, it could be enough. The real climbs would only come late (113 km) and only one difficulty was earlier at 56 km.
Again, we wanted to put pressure on Pena Pena; after all, it’s his race to lose. He would not fall for it once again. He rode from the back of the peloton and let many guys up the road while the top guns stayed together behind. At one point, almost 40 riders were up the road… not easy on the nerves of a young leader and his manager! Our major problem is we would not get any time splits over race radio from the organization! In order to get one, I had to go up the road myself (that meant having to go through all the local team cars blocking us from doing our work!) to get a real check. The official gap to a group of about 30 guys was officialy 2:30. Nothing too bad, but the yellow jersey group was simply not riding… at all. All they could do was admire Cam’s jersey!
In respect for the race, we had to put things to work with Ryan Belliveau and André Tremblay. Dustin, who was covering the front of the race, would wait for Cam in the mountains. Once again, our guys did not look back and left everything they had on the road. Belli exploded in the first km of the Mont Frédérique (cat 1) and André was only able to sustain the fast pace a few extra minutes. Cam had to take things over with Pena Pena in his wheel.
The awaited attack finally arrived… and it went up the climb like a space shuttle: “in all my years of racing against many strong guys, I’ve never been dropped like that;” later said Evans. A couple of minutes later, Cam caught up to Dustin who was waiting for him. Together, they tried to limit the loses, but the TV footage showed us the guys was simply impossible to keep up with. No one, of all the guys up the road, were coming even close to his rhythm.
On the line, Pena Pena won the race by 50 seconds, and 4:51 over Cam. This means the Columbian now wears the yellow jersey with a 1:23 over Cam. The battle is not lost. A leader would be crazy to think he won before he crosses the last finish line on Sunday.
But everyone is very tired and it’ll be hard to surprise him. What’s left for us to do is wait to see how the local and other foreign teams will attack him. If they don’t, his team will easily able to control the race and he’ll limit the losses during Saturday’s 15 km time trial. If they do, it seems like we’re too young and innocent to quit!
These young boys have impressed many, including myself this week. Jacky Hardy, a Canadian National team contracted coached based on this island was also very impressed by the determination of the youngest team entering the Tour. Slowly, but surely, we were making some fans along these roads. Many are still hoping to see Cam on the top podium step on Sunday. Three days, four stages, will it be enough? One thing for sure, the new yellow jersey will have to look over his shoulder once and a while!
This project is made possible under the Centre’s Selection program, sponsored by Giant, Nelsons, Yakima, Croissant Soleil, Université de Moncton, Shimano and Gu. For this special project, we also want to send a special thank you to some very special donations which made it possible for us to get down here:
Luc Arseneau, ChPC
Head Coach / Entraîneur Chef
200, Promenade du Parc / Park Drive
Dieppe, NB (Canada) E1A 7T6