June 14, 2012 (Mont-Megantic, QC) – At his debut appearance at the Tour de Beauce and the legendary 164-kilometer stage from Saint-Georges to the summit, Matt Cooke (Exergy) conquered Mont Mégantic. In doing so he managed to fend off overall race leader in yellow, Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist), who came in second but kept his first place in the overall ranking at the 27th annual Tour de Beauce. Rory Sutherland (Unitedhealthcare) claimed the third spot on the podium.
Canada’s Hugo Houle (SpiderTech) proved that this is his best season yet with a fourth place finish. “I’m really happy. Fourth place is excellent and I’m no climber. I knew I was in great shape, which helped me compete with heavy weights like Mancebo, DeMaar and Cooke. Now I’m in a strong position for tomorrow’s individual time trial, because it’s what I do best. “
Houle was backed up by his teammates Ryan Roth and François Parisien. “Hugo was our secret weapon,” commented Parisen. “We worked hard for him and protected him from the wind. We took care of him and he delivered as expected. On top of that, the roads we’re great.
“I complained last year, but I must say that the public works employees did a great job. As for me, I’m happy with my physical health and I finished in the top 15. Originally, I didn’t even think I could compete because of my knee, so the end of the season is looking really good.”
For Cooke it was a career-best performance. “It’s incredible,” said Cooke following his victory. “It’s the first time I’m participating in the Tour de Beauce and I’ve won the queen stage – I’m having the best season of my career. I’d heard a lot about the Tour and it’s really a challenging course with some steep climbs.
“I’m from Colorado where I have the chance to train at altitude, so I felt good today in the mountains. I’ve been trying to beat Mancebo for two years now; he’s one of the best. Francisco is a great guy and an excellent cyclist. It’s always a pleasure to ride with him.”
As for Mancebo, he said he didn’t feel very good. “I didn’t have a lot of strength in my legs but I kept climbing. I’m glad I was able to keep the yellow jersey. I should do well tomorrow in the individual time trial but the rider to watch will be Rory Sutherland.”
Mancebo also wears the white jersey (Points leader), while Houle is now in the red jersey (Best Young Rider) while Cooke will wear the polka dot (Best Climber).
A total of 98 cyclists will take part at Stage 4 on Friday at the individual trial time in the Saint-Benoît Labre region where more fireworks are expected.