Kirk Carlsen: Tour de Beauce was great team effort

Kirk Carlsen bears down during the time trial.

Kirk Carlsen bears down during the time trial.

Stage 1

The opening stage of Tour de Beauce was a 196 kilometer, four lap circuit race. Our plan was to watch the breakaways and try to avoid blowing too many matches before the finish. Since many of the riders are not used to riding nearly 200 kilometer races, we relied on our experience and knew that we would be able to withstand the distance and make a big difference during the last 50
kilometers of the race.

We were very patient, almost too patient in the opening kilometers. A group of 5 riders immediately got away. This was a perfect situation for us, as a 5 rider breakaway is easily brought back before the finish, in most cases. However, when 3 more riders bridged across, and another 2 attempted, we knew that it was going to be even more difficult to save our big efforts for later.

The breakaway, at one point, had gained nearly 12 minutes, and we were all a bit worried that the race for GC was over. However, once we started rolling with Ian on the front, the gap immediately started to come down.

Going into the last lap, other teams really started to contribute to the chase. This is when our team really tried to set up Jacob for the uphill sprint. Matty Lloyd rolled on the front to allow us to keep in good position toward the front, and Serghei and I tried to stay with Jacob to protect him from the wind. The lead-up to the sprint got a bit unorganized and was slow, allowing for a lot of “swarming” at the front of the bunch. Guys were flying left, right and center to try and hit the last 500 meters in good position.

Jacob managed to get 11th on the sprint. We were all happy to be able to finish the day knowing that our chances would only get better as the stage race went on.

Stage 2

We started off in the rain on the “Queen” stage that went from Lac-Megantic to the top of Mont Megantic and was 167 kilometers long. When you start a stage in the rain and cold you know that it is going to be a long and hard stage, mentally and physically.

The race started off with a blistering fast “neutral” section, where I basically got dropped doing 500 watts on the wheels. When they raised the green flag for us to start racing, Jacob was able to get into the breakaway of the day.

The stage was rolling with some steep pitched climbs and a lot of wind and rain. In preparation for the mountain top finish, Serghei, Matt and I tried our best to save our legs. Unfortunately for Matt and I, the cold and rain took its toll as we were shivering all day and wasted a lot of energy try to keep warm and dry.

When we hit the climb, all but three riders from the breakaway remained. The group shattered right away on the steep grades, however, a strong headwind kept a group of 20 together. In the last kilometer, it was mostly all together, but with a 20 percent grade the selection happened and the group splintered into pieces. The time gaps were minimal though, and Serghei managed to finish 5th. I was 15th. This put us all in great position going into the time trial.

Stage 3

The weather and course conditions made for an interesting race against the clock on stage 3. The 20 kilometer out-and-back time trial, which had a left hand corner with no barriers separating starting riders from finishing riders was made even more dangerous by the terrible road conditions and rain. For Serghei and I, we knew in order to maintain good position in the General Classification, we had to do a good time trial.

For me, the time trial was very difficult due to the bumpy roads. It seemed like every time I got a good rhythm going, I would hit a pothole or have to avoid one and be thrown off my game plan of keeping the power steady. All in all though, it was a good day for us, as Serghei finished second and I was tenth on the stage and we were both sitting in the top 10 of the overall classification.

Stage 4

Quebec City is a beautiful place, and one of my favorite stages. Having said that, I’m sure most of the riders, including me, had a miserable time trying to manage slick roads and weather conditions. The circuit race was filled with very dangerous corners, road “furniture,” and orange cones separating on coming traffic from the race. The hazardous conditions, and 1.5 kilometer climb each
lap made for an epic race.

Coming into the finish, I was able to lead into the bottom of the climb and most of the way up it with Serghei on my wheel to help him go for the stage win. Coming up to the last 500 meters, Serghei and I were both toward the front and he was able to manage sixth on the stage. We stayed safe and did not lose any time on the GC.

Stage 5

This final stage was a difficult circuit with a finishing climb that we had to ride up 13 times! Right from the start, the race was full throttle. The break got established and there were constant attacks on the climb which made the race even more challenging to control.

With 5 laps remaining, the break started to come back and we knew that the race would explode when the peleton caught made contact. Just as the break was reeled in, the peleton shattered on the climb up to the finish and only 20 guys remained at the head of the race. I knew, in order to set Serghei up for a chance of winning, we had to isolate the leader and make him work and tire before the finish. This left Serghei in good position to attack.

Going into the last 4 laps, I attacked, and looked back. The yellow jersey was on my wheel! Well, this was an interesting predicament. So, I decided it would be best to ease off on the pedals, and make him do the majority of the work on the front, since Serghei was close to him on GC. I could make him as tired as possible, and by the time we were caught, Serghei could attack. However, it seemed as though Serghei’s earlier crash had taken its toll and 7 other riders were able to cross the gap to me and the race leader.

Since Serghei was high on the GC, I was able to sit on the other riders and save my legs until the final sprint. Unfortunately, I was not having a very good day either, and did not have a lot left in the end to get the stage win. Although I was extremely disappointed in myself, Serghei and I both finished in the top five overall in 3rd and 5th.

It was a great team effort and without the staff and other team members, these results would not have been possible.

-Kirk

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