Tour de L’Abitibi 2012

After two months I’ve finally gotten around to recapping the it. Thankfully, L’Abitibi does a great job of permeating social media to keep people informed. Here is our recap, particularly angled on Scott Ford, his team, and the USAC Selection B team we sponsored.  We was blessed to have a such large presence and platform, and we thank those who made it possible, particularly Barney King and the staff at the Flagstaff selection camp.

Scotty was a member of the USAC Selection A Team, directed by Mark Fasczewski. While the US National team (which shall be referred to as “USA”) was the storyline of the race, “Select A” left a huge mark as well.  “Select B”, our jersey-bearers, were directed by Michael Heitz and wrenched by Jay Suarez. They made their presence known in the field and scored a huge result in the pre-race Sprint Challenge.

Sprint Challenge determined Stage 1’s caravan order. A rider from each team faced off in a three round tournament. Matthew Russell represented Select B, and winning his first two heats en route to the final round. Ultimately, he finished 3rd behind Elliot Doyle (Quebec, Canadian Crit Champion) and Brandon Etlz (Canada Nat’l team). 18 year old Russell stood on the podium, exposing himself and our jersey to an international audience- an unforgettable moment.

Podium

Stage 1 was a nasty initiation into the Tour de L’Abitibi. 117 kilometers, 3 categorized “climbs”, wind, crashes, and a forceful drubbing from USA, who applied the classic “team attack” strategy. Geoffrey Curran, TJ Eisenhart, and Gregory Daniel (all teammates), established a maximum lead of 2 minutes. Most of the American regional teams gambled on leaving the chase to the Canadian teams, and the gamble paid off, though not without its share of anxiety. The gap was closed with a third of the race remaining. Various riders tried to splinter off, but the pack gave little leash.

Coming into the last lap, the USA Nat’l Team had full control, with a full leadout for Alex Darville. However, Miguel Bryon (Select A) proved to be the dark horse, taking the win and all 3 leaders jerseys. The day was not perfect for Select A, as Scotty crashed early and lost time. He would spend the rest of the stage race extremely limited physically.

scotty-b4-start

Stage was another day of relentless attacking, with Select A under serious pressure to defend Bryon’s lead. The race was valiantly held intact until about 40 kilometers remaining when the break rolled away. It was 12 men strong- very difficult to pull back. 1o of the teams were represented, including Canada, USA, and Quebec, further dooming the peloton. TJ Eisenhart attacked out of the breakaway with Olivier  Miclette to win the stage by 42 seconds. Select A had missed the break and lost the jerseys.

On Stage 3, the riders endured the ultimate test of a L’Abitibi winner: the time trial. USA kicked everyone’s backside, going 1st-5th and 7th, denied the total sweep by Yohan Patry (Canada). Select A was well-represented with Justin Oien and Ian Moore in 12th and 16th, and Select B riders Russell and AZ boy Taylor Skinner placed 22nd and 28th.

Defending the Brown leaders jersey for the first time, USA controlled Stage 4‘s circuit race “from start to finish” as Alexey Vermeulen told interviewers. In the process, they put Alex Darville in position to win  the stage and increase his lead in the Orange points jersey. Bryon finished 2nd, establishing his earlier win to be no fluke. Arizona and Team Winded fans were given disappointing news when Scotty finished outside the time cut after crashing. Such is L’Abitibi; for some it is a path of glory, for some a path of survival, but it is a path of suffering for all.

Ignoring philosophical notions, Stage 5 turned out to be almost stress-free. There were no mechanicals, crashes, or changes in GC. Miguel Bryon won again! nick-miguel-finsihEtlz and Darville rounded out the top 3. Donovan Caputo (Southeastern) scored a notable result, taking 17th! Sadly, he went down with food poisoning that night. Members of the Tucson  and Arizona cycling communities have watched him grow into an experienced and classy bike racer over the years.

In Stage 6, the nation of Canada triumphed for the first time since the Sprint Challenge. Etlz won over Bryon, taking Canada’s first stage win since 2010. USA continued to lead GC (Eisenhart), but Etlz squeezed into 4th. Logan Owen held the Blue Jersey of the best young rider young rider, and Darville kept Orange.

Stage 7 provided one final shake-up in the GC. A 7 man breakaway got loose with 30-40km left: Gerardo Medina (Major Motion), Justin Oien (Select A), Lucas Wardein (Southeastern), Wilson Cardona Garcia (Columbia), Alexey Vermeulen (USA), Geoffrey Curran (USA), and Eisenhart (USA). At first USA was sitting in, but they made the decision to work to stay away. They did so, propelling Vermeulen, Curran, Oien, Cardona, and Wardein into 2nd-7th on GC, respectively. Medina, a man whom South-westerners saw contend at VOS and San Dimas, won stage 7 over Wardein. Oien finished 3rd on the stage after some extremely consistent racing.

props

Eisenhart rolled in behind the breakaway, savoring the victory. His team had won all three jerseys in dominating fashion. America had a great showing at L’Abitibi, evidenced by its regional teams in addition to its national team.

In conclusion, the race was a great opportunity and experience. Thanks to all those who “liked” our Facebook page and supported the riders. We hope to make a return to L’Abitibi next year, and we hope to see you there! Thanks for reading!