Cyclist Julien Vermote of Team Omega Pharma Quickstep was the overall winner when the crash-plagued third and final stage of the Johann Museeuw Classic race ended Sunday at Ichtegem, Belgium Sunday.
Montreal rider Keven Lacombe was the lone finisher in the UCI’s European Tour race for the Steve Bauer-led SpiderTech team, which is the only Canadian-led entry on the UCI pro-continental loop. The team’s hopes of placing well were decimated in a multi-bike crash on mud-slicked cobbles. None of the SpiderTech cyclists was seriously injured, a team news statement said.
The third stage, a 186.5-kilometre ride between Nieuwpoort and Ichtegem, ended in a bunch sprint as Saturday’s race had.
Kevin Field, sports director for Team SpiderTech said the Canadian-based team – which has long-term hopes of getting to the sport’s jewel, the Tour de France - had “a good plan to approach all stages, and it went well until the cobbles on the Steenstraat after 132km of racing. Then everything went pear-shaped – fast,” he said.
“If it were not for the rain, this cobble section may not have been a big deal. But with the mud covering the wet cobbles: carnage is the only word that can describe what happened on this two-kilometre section of road. And we were the victims of this carnage...
“When the dust settled we had one rider in front – Lacombe,” Field said.
“On the one hand we are steeped in disappointment. On the other, what can you say ... there was no good luck or favours for team SpiderTech today. It happens, we pick ourselves up, lick our wounds and move on.”
Vermonte finished the general classification ahead of Jesse Sargent of Radio Shack-Nissan and Mikhail Ignatyev of Team Katusha.
Arnaud Démare of French team Française-Des-Jeux—Bigmat, was the fastest man on the third leg, crossing the finish line ahead of Alexander Porsev of Team Katusha, and Kenny Van Humel of Team Vancansoleil-DCM.
The leading group had stayed intact until the last 20 kilometers of the race, when the peloton decided to push the front-runners for control of the race. There were several crashes in the pack during this last stage, six in total, which were caused by rain that fell earlier in the race that made the road slippery.
Team SpiderTech’s Zach Bell was involved in a crash, and did not finish the race. More team SpiderTech riders were forced to abandon the race. Ryan Roth stopped for medical reasons, while Ryan Anderson and Guillaume Boivin had tire punctures in key moments of the race. Simon Lambert-Lemay stopped to leand a hand to teammate Boivin, and was also forced to stop.
The SpiderTech team will participate in two UCI Europe Tour races in the Netherlands in the next week. Friday, the team will be on the starting line of the Ronde van Drenthe while Saturday, it will take part in the Albert Achterhes Ronde van Drenthe.
Canadians ride to podium
The Canadian men’s cycling squad rose to the challenge in the men’s team sprint at the 2012 UCI Pan-American Championships in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, winning the silver medal to open a crucial critical event for Canada’s track cycling team
The squad comprised of Travis Smith of Calgary, Joseph Veloce of Fonthill, Ont., and Hugo Barrette of Cap-Aux-Meules, Que., qualified for the gold medal race in the morning qualifications, and went on to face the United States of American in the evening.
As Smith said, the United States had the race of their lives to win the gold.: “We finished 2nd. All of us improved our times, but the American second rider had the ride of his life tonight to help the Americans win. In our first ride it was so windy I was just struggling my whole last lap, but the final I went down a gear and felt much better.”
In the bronze medal match, Argentina edged Venezuela to the finish line.
Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., who suited up for Canada for the first time in a cycling race, also proved that she was a contender among an international field. Moyse posted the fourth fastest time of the 500-metre time trial at 36.207 seconds. Cuba’s Guerra Lisandra was the fastest by posting a time of 34.601 seconds.
Competition resumes in the men’s sprint, where Smith and Veloce will again be seeking Olympic qualification quota positions for Canada