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A Little Taste of Belgium in Saint-Basil de Portneuf

September 20, 2005 – Even the weather was perfect for the kick-off race to Quebec’s much anticipated cyclocross season. Team Xcluziv’s president Jurgen Van Den Driessche only received news that he’d be organizing the race one week in advance, but the native of Belgium and Sainte-Foy resident put together a course which had racers raving.

The two kilometer loop featured ‘cross classics: grassy knoll climbs and descents, several obstacle sets, a wooden bridge, gravelly double track, single-track root sections, and sand, sand, everywhere – two sand-traps and a BMX sandhill. “It was like the courses back home!”, commented Van Den Driessche.

In the women’s race, inclement weather and rookie error caused an early crash on a grassy downhill which sent riders scrambling. Podium favorite Catherine Deschenes (Team Xcluziv) was taken out by this unfortunate incident which saw the veteran racer’s knee seriously bruised. She was forced to abandon after another mishap injured her elbow. We’ll see she her next week at Sherbrooke in her usual fantastic form.

A two-women dual marked the race. Rookie Marie-Pier Bedard (Espoirs de Laval / SG Canada) and Caroline Lavoie (Biogen-Idem) duked it out the entire race, with Bedard edging out Lavoie at the line. Coming in third was exuberant newbie Joanie Caron (Elicycle) who happily exclaimed “I even wiped out twice ! It was great!”

Under even rainier and windier skies, the men’s race got started for 60 minutes of muddy fun. As soon as the grassy knoll hit, the pack spread out due to crashes, slipping, and other various mayhem. The pack continued to wax and wane as the laps progressed. Race favorite Pascal Bussières (Biogen-Idem) was taken by the sandtraps, by this point so deep that rear derailleurs bathed in gritty goodness. The wooden bridge took its fair share of victims, becoming increasingly slippery as the race wore on. In the end, it was organizer Van Den Driessche who took the race, followed by Master’s Cross-Country Champion Luc Proulx (Team Xpresso). Rounding out the podium was cross-country mountain biker David Gagnon.

There were some “missing-in-actions” for the first race. Busy working at the ExpoCycle 2005 at Place Bonaventure was Benoit Simard, last year’s Provincial champ, as well as ‘cross contender Andreas Schinke. Quebec Cyclocross Champ, Kassandra Coté, and cross-country racer Brigitte Lacaille were both taking a rest after a busy mountain bike season, but are sure to make their presence known at upcoming races. Next stop is Stage 2 in Sherbrooke, on Sunday September 25!

Senior Men 1. Jurgen Van Den Driessche – Team Xcluziv 2. Luc Proulx – Team Xpresso 3. David Gagnon – Indep.

Senior Women 1. Marie-Pier Bedard – Espoirs de Laval / SG Canada 2. Caroline Lavoie – Biogen Idec 3. Joanie Caron – Elicycle

PeeWee 1. Yohan Patry – Espoirs de Laval 2. Alex Landsman – Martin Swiss Cyclocross 3. Matt Borden – Martin Swiss Cyclocross

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