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Canadian Paracyclists Perform at Tandem Tour of Belgium – Carrier and Laflamme Finish 6th Overall

courtesy of Sportcom
May 13, 2013 (Belgium) – Canadian paracyclists Alexandre Carrier and his pilot, Aroussen Laflamme, contested the para-cycling tandem Tour of Belgium stage race, May 9-13. The Canadian team, out-numbered by squads from strong European nations, made their mark, logging multiple top-five stage finishes to wrap up the tour in sixth overall. Read on for more about the race and find out what Carrier and Laflamme had to say about racing in Europe.

Carrier and Laflamme Finish Fifth on Stage 2 (May 10)
The Canadian duo took fifth place on the second stage of the Tour of Belgium. “It was a hard day at the office,” Alexandre Carrier admitted. “We rode at an average of more than 43 km/h for the entire race.”

Tandems in action faced multiple attacks from the beginning of the road race, which was nearly 90km in distance. “There were attacks everywhere and finally a group of six or seven tandems took the lead.”

“In the peloton, everyone looked and nobody seemed to want to work even if the leaders began to pull ahead.”

Carrier and Laflamme decided to take the initiative and chase. “We worked hard to bring them back and we succeeded.”

Then the Polish duo of Polack Marcin and Michal Ladosz got into attack mode and their breakaway held until the end. “We tried to organize the hunt, but it did not really work.”

As the only Canadians in the Tour of Belgium, Carrier and Laflamme had to fight against the national teams of several tandems. “When the Poles have four tandems, it’s harder to stand out,” noted Carrier. “We were limited in what we could do; we had to focus on bridging to the break and closing the gaps.”

Carrier and Laflamme finally found themselves in a pack of four tandems, fighting for fourth place in a sprint. They finished second in the pack to take fifth place in the race.

“We are happy with the work we have done. I think we showed ourselves to be one of the best tandem duos in the competition. It’s just that the opportunities were not really presented to us today (Friday). ”

To have been able to cover the majority of attacks was today’s accomplishment.”We have limited the damage, but the differences in the overall standings (GC) will increase,” admitted Carrier.

Carrier and Laflamme Finish 5th in TT (May 11)
Carrier and Laflamme finished fifth in the first time trial that took place on a 2,500m track.

“It was a little crazy! It rained a lot and the track, when it rains, it is special. Especially for someone like me who had never ridden in a velodrome,” said Laflamme. “We were against the world champions on the track in tandem, the Dutch duo of Patrick Bos and Daniël Knegt. That made for steep competition for the first try, we were not sure what to expect. Finally, we managed to finish less than five seconds behind them and a few hundredths of a second from fourth place.” The Dutch duo finished second behind Marcin and Michal Ladosz Polack of Poland who were in the yellow jersey.

Later in the day, the Quebecers also competed in the fifth stage, an 83km road race, where they placed fourth. The French duo of Stéphane Boussard and Mickaël Dhinnin won the race ahead of the Belgians Marc Eymard and Jerome Defays.

“The sky cleared, so it was better. Our strategy was to go on a breakaway if the opportunity arose, but we did not want to do all the work by ourselves, “said Laflamme.

“The four Polish tandems controlled the race, letting two tandems go on a breakaway. These two were not leading the GC and thus not a threat to the leaders,” said the Quebecers.”The breakaway held until the end. We expected that the Poles would try to comeback to win, but they did not. It ended in a sprint for third place.”

Carrier and Laflamme finished just behind the Dutch duo of Patrick Bos and Daniël Knegt.”Again, we were really sprinting like them. We were only a wheel behind them. Fifty meters more and we would have passed them. But it’s part of the job, “said Laflamme.

Carrier and Laflamme Podium on Stage 6 (May 12)
Carrier and his pilot, Laflamme, completed the Tour of Belgium on Sunday by placing third in the 6th and final stage. And thanks to their third place finish, the Canadians finished sixth in the final rankings.

Carrier had a fever since Saturday but there was no question, however of him not being on the start line of the final race. “Even though I was not at my best form, it was clear that I was going through to the end. It was difficult, but we kept to the game plan.”

“We wanted to tighten the race as much as possible to force the Poles to work. We did a lot of attacks, said Carrier.”The purpose of Poles was to launch a tandem of their breakaway and then control the race, but we did not let him.”

The 90km stage was contested in the rain with Dutch riders Bjorn Demas and Aldo Klomp winning the stage with a time of 1:53:32. The Canadian duo finished third, three seconds back at 1:53:35. The Dutch duo of Daniël Knegt and Patrick Bos edged the Canadians in the final sprint, finishing second.

Overall, Quebecers have climbed one ranking to finish the Tour of Belgium sixth. Carrier and Laflamme were also on the podium in the sprints classification, placing second.

“I am very happy to have stayed in Belgium. It’s crazy experience that we came for. Even though we were the only Canadian tandem against other countries that had more teams, we really done well,” said Alexandre Carrier.”the tandems crews from other nations had their eye on us Canadians. They watched us and gave us as little room to manoeuvre as possible.”

The overall podium was monopolized by Polish riders. Marcin Polak and Michal Ladosz were crowned with a comfortable lead of over a minute on their compatriots Wegner Przemyslaw and Piotr Czopek. Kryztof Kosikowski and Artur Korc finished third.

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