Cooke wins Tour de Beauce Stage 3 - results, report and videoBy Canadian Cycling Magazine - Published June 14, 2012
American Matt Cooke (Exergy) secured one of the biggest wins in his cycling career atop Mont Megantic during stage three at the Tour de Beauce. Race leader, Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist) placed second on the day ahead of Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) in third.
The peloton contested the ‘queen’ stage three, a 165 km road race beginning in Saint-Georges and finishing at the top of the decisive Mont Megantic. There were also three King of the Mountain ascents on course and two intermediate sprints, both for points.
A breakaway of five riders formed early in the stage that included Matt Hyggins (NODE4 Giordana), Russel Hampton (Raleigh), David Stephens (Garneau-Quebecor-Norton), William Blackburn (Medique), Nic Hamilton (Team Canada). The breakaway gained a maximum of nearly six minutes ahead of the peloton led by Mancebo’s Competitive Cyclist teammates.
Hampton broke away from his companions before the start of the climb. He maintained a small gap ahead of the field with five kilometres to go. He was caught by a lead group of climbers who emerged on the ascent with four kilometres to go.
Mont Megantic is one of the staples of the Tour de Beauce, it is where the race can be won or lost. It is a 6.6 km ascent with an average gradient of 7.7 per cent. The climb was very steep at the base, but the riders got some reprieve through the mid-section of the climb, right before another steep section near the top.
The top group of climbers included Mancebo, Cooke and Sutherland along with Christian Meier (Canada), Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare), Sebastien Salas (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Hugo Houle (SpiderTech).
Cooke managed to gain a gap of about 10 seconds. But the yellow jersey and the other GC contenders could only close part of the gap down. De Maar tried desperately to bring Cooke back but he was unable to.
Cooke says his ride on Megantic is the best performance he’s had in his career. And he says it’s rewarding coming against Mancebo, who he describes as possibly the best rider in North America.
Before today’s stage, UnitedHealthcare team director Hendrik Redant said Megantic is the kind of stage where a team can win the race. He said the final climb would be “man against man.” That it was. After today’s stage, Sutherland moves into 3rd in the GC and De Maar 5th, a nice step up for both riders with three stages yet to go.
One team director who was very happy with today’s result is SpiderTech’s Michael Carter. His young rider, Houle has been putting himself in a better position in the general classification after each stage. Today, Houle picked up the Best Young Rider jersey and moves into 4th in the GC. And he clearly enjoyed the moment, basking at the top of Megantic with his hands in the air.
Carter now has two GC contenders in Ryan Roth and Houle.
As for Houle, he welcomes the pressure of being a top GC contender. After his U23 Championship at the Canadian road nationals last year, SpiderTech has focused on his development, plotting out a race schedule to bolster his experience and his strength.
After finishing fourth at the top of Megantic today, he spoke to Canadian Cycling about how his race went. He had to cut the interview short to head to the podium, but says he’ll have more to talk about later. We’ll be listening.
The riders will contest the stage four 20 km time trial in Saint-Benoit-Labre on Friday.
Top ten stage results:
1. Matt Cooke (Exergy)
2. Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist)
3. Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare)
4. Hugo Houle (SpiderTech p/b C10)
5. Chris Butler (Champion System)
6. Sebastien Salas (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies)
7. Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare)
8. Christian Meier (Canada)
9. David Clarke (NODE4 Giordana)
10. Rob Britton (H&R Block)
Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist)
King of the Mountain:
Matt Cooke (Exergy)
Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist)
Hugo Houle (SpiderTech p/b C10)