St. Georges, Quebec (June 18, 2007) The Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team, presented by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. again showed the depth and determination of its squad with an excellent performance at the Tour de Beauce. Over the seven stage race, Kodak Gallery riders notched one stage win, two days in the Yellow Jersey, two days in the Points Leader’s Jersey and four rider appearances on the podium.
Fresh off of a dominant performance in Ireland’s FBD Insurance Ras and its best showing ever at the famed Commerce Bank Liberty Classic in “Philly,” the Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team competed in Beauce with the confidence born only of success. Despite being exhausted from 18 days of racing in three countries in a 30-day period, Mark Walters and Dominique Rollin came out firing, capturing first and second respectively in Stage-1 and securing the Yellow (leader) and White (points) jerseys. Walters and Rollin were also part of a break-away that established more than a 14-minute advantage on the field.
Having worked to defend Jesse Anthony’s yellow jersey at the Ras in Ireland, the team applied its experience and worked well together to protect race leader Walters in the next two stages. Stage two saw a breakaway of riders establish early and get to the finish 5:24 ahead of the main field containing Walters, Rollin and the rest of the team. As all members of the break had conceded 14 minutes in the first stage, the general classification remained largely unchanged and Walters and Rollin retained their jerseys.
The third stage of Beauce featured the infamous mountaintop finish on Mt. Megantic – a climb that boasts a final three kilometers with an average pitch of 18%! The Kodak Gallery team rode a perfect race to the bottom of the climb. Having worked hard to deliver the team’s leaders to the base of the climb at the front of the field and out of the wind, the support riders dropped back and set a steady pace to the finish. Ahead, Rollin, Walters and teammate Ben Raby raced on to the top seeking to protect their standings on a day when the results would surely be juggled.
The road to Megantic was strung out with riders and at the end of the stage, Glen Alan Chadwick of the Navigators Insurance Team would set the winning time of 3:58:23. Only 17 riders and 2:12 later, Rollin crossed the line first for the Kodak Gallery team. Walters followed 59-seconds later and Raby was third across for the team at 6:36.
“It was an impressive demonstration of power and determination today from Dominique Rollin,” noted team director, Kurt Stockton. “Rollin is a sprinter and the biggest guy on our team – to see him come across first for the team on such a tough climb speaks volumes about his talent and will to win.” When all was sorted after the finish, Walters handed the race leader’s jersey to Gregorio Vega of the Tecos Trek Team. After Stage-3, Rollin led the team in 10th position 1:30 behind the new leader and Walters was in 11th, 2:02 back.
On the heels of the climb to Megantic, the two separate stages planned for day four were sure to be difficult. The first stage of the day was an early morning, 20k individual time trial. Dominique Rollin finished the day in 7th place, just 1:32 behind the leader while Walters came across in 23rd at 2:27. Dan Timmerman had an impressive showing for Kodak Gallery in the time trial finishing 20th. With the morning TT behind them, the stage was set for an exciting evening criterium.
As the evening and the kilometers wore on in the Criterium, an early breakaway of five riders was working well together and appeared to have the horsepower to win the race. Navigators Insurance, who at the time held the Yellow Jersey, led the field’s effort to chase down the break until there were only 12 laps remaining. At that point, the Kodak Gallery team moved to the front and took command of the race. In a nail biting conclusion, the breakaway was caught on the final lap and Dominique Rollin came within inches of taking the win. Rollin finished second and 19-year old teammate Cody O’Reilly, riding in his first stage race as a pro, finished a very impressive 6th in the same time.
Quebec City played host to Stage-5, a 125km urban circuit race known for its 10% climb though the historic Old Town. On the first lap, a breakaway of six established a quick minute advantage on the field. Strong winds and the group’s small size kept their advantage slim and an attack in field by the Tecos team on lap four proved their undoing. Only a lap later, a second break of six riders escaped and gained a minute on the field. Kodak Gallery rider Jesse Anthony was a key member of this effort.
As Stage-5 drew to a close, the breakaway began to show signs of collapse. In the final lap and recognizing the signs of fatigue, riders in the break began attacking each other. In the end, Ian MacGreggor of Team Slipstream edged out Andreas Schillinger of Team Sparkasse. Anthony was third, just two seconds behind the leaders. Rollin came in 36 seconds back while Walters and Raby were next for Kodak Gallery at 46 and 50 seconds respectively.
Sunday’s final stage again saw riders setting out on an urban circuit race. St. Georges hosted the event on a 12.5km circuit that featured a prominent 2km climb that riders would contest on each of their 12 laps. As if the course were not difficult enough, heavy rains soaked the riders and ended a streak of hot, sunny and humid racing weather. Much of the final stage was a contest between top three riders in the general classification. At the end of the stage, Navigator’s Ben Day was able to defend his lead and took the overall Tour de Beauce title.
As riders struggled in the rain and navigated the challenging St. Georges course, team director Kurt Stockton took the decision to pull several support riders from the race. The astute move was taken with an eye forward to team’s next race on Saturday in Rochester, New York and to the fatigued riders’ safety. “This has been a tough week of racing and our younger riders have stepped up to the challenge. It is important to recognize the toll a stage race like this can take on a young rider and to make sure their schedule provides adequate recovery so they can continue to develop as cyclists and to contribute to the team’s successes going forward,” Stockton explained.
The team is traveling to Rochester, New York where they will host a group ride at Kodak Headquarters on Friday and compete in the Rochester Twilight Criterium on Saturday.