Like any other major stage race, we showed up at breakfast in a relaxed mode. The last day usually shows this with every team, and even with the organization. We discussed how everyone was feeling and even some possible ways of making back those 43 seconds separating Cameron Evans to the leader’s jersey. We then headed down to the beach to take a team picture.
When our mechanic headed to the bike room, he realized some of our bikes were just sitting there with no wheels one… a little strange for this Sunday morning. After double verification with everyone, we officially realized three wheel sets had been stolen from our team! We alarmed the other teams, and Israel also realized they were missing a set of time trial wheels. Catastrophe on this final day, before the stage even begun! After talking with the organizers, we decided to send the guys on the bus to the event, and myself, TJ and Nena would stay back to try to arrange anything possible. It’s Sunday, everything moves slow around here. Our best option ended up talking to the policemen controlling the security of the race; a complete report will be done, but I would not expect much more. After the dust had cleared, we did the math, close to 9000$ in wheels was gone!
This is so unfortunate as a little group of people make the rest of the Island look so bad. Along those hard roads, we won the admiration of many of them. They know their cycling, and they can recognize a great performance.
With low moral and high level of fatigue, we still attacked the race to give it one last shot. The UCC team quickly took control of the race, and neutralized everything we’d try. Over live radio coverage of the race, they were saying the race was over and nothing could happen on the final 5km race circuit. Little did they know about Cam’s, and our whole team, ability to ride twisty downtown circuits! Our plan of the day was about to be put into action.
A few kilometers before entering the circuit, going around one of the many European roundabouts, a rider tries to jump over the inside of the circle to take a shortcut. At the other side, he’s obviously not going in the same direction of the fast peloton. Bang, he collides and brings down the front end of the pack, including Dustin MacBurnie and yes, Cam. TJ, our mechanic, is quick to respond and we give Cam a complete new bike to finish the event. The team also reacts very quickly to wait for him. During our pre race discussions, we had talked about not wanting anything to happen to the yellow jersey. If we were to attack him, it would be clean and not while he’s down or coming back from a flat tire. Obviously, they had the same type of discussion. Pena Pena saw the crash happen (he was almost involved) and as soon as he realized Cam was involved, he used his yellow jersey authority to shut down the race. Our four guys made it back to the peloton a few kilometers later as the race was entering the Pointe-à-Pitre circuit.
Damage was limited, but attacking was now pretty much out of the question. Cam completed the five laps surrounded by his men, and second place was secured. After some extra parking lot action from angry local directeur sportifs, we were finally able to digest everything, and head to the podium.
In my 10 years as a team director, I don’t think I’ve ever had to fight this much for a podium finish. Everyone contributed immensely to this second place; from our riders to our staff. As I was once told, when riding the pro peloton, it’s not the actual riding that is hard, it’s what’s around the race that sometimes makes it super hard. Well, we had a perfect demonstration of that this week. Once back at the hotel last night, I just felt our energy level drained down. In fact, everyone was in bed not too long after 10. Yes, I said it right, no partying was involved in this one. For a bunch of Maritimers on a Caribbean Island, not very common, let me tell you!
We had in mind to put this project together to show everyone back home what we’re capable of when given the opportunity. To that, we can say mission accomplished! The boys from the cold can return home with pride, a few bruises, and heavy legs. I’m sure when we are all rested and recovered from the whole thing, we’ll all get up looking for yet, another battle. The youngest team in this year’s Tour de la Guadeloupe will be looking for more, I’m sure.
Thanks to everyone for reading and sending us your best whishes, we really needed them at some points. Thanks to everyone who made this project possible as well! We’re heading north!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