February 5, 2006 – Charles Dionne finished 25th in today’s first stage of the Spanish race Challenge Illes Balears, in the Balearic Islands (Mallorca) while wearing the colours of his new European team Saunier-Duval Prodir. The athlete from St-RÃ©dempteur finished in the lead pack with the same time as the winner, Spanish rider Issac Galvez (Caisse d’Ã‰pargne/ÃŽles Balears Team). The stage consisted of several laps of a flat circuit situated in the suburbs of Palma.
“It was the first time I wore the Saunier-Duval Prodir jersey for real, so I was excited. For a first day I think it went well. It was odd to begin the season so early,” said Dionne. The Quebecois rider’s task was to help set up teammate Francisco JosÃ© Ventoso to the finish line for a sprint win.
“It was more difficult than expected as several riders fell in a sharp 180 degree corner with 2K to the finish line. As a result, we were forced back, so the final result wasn’t great, but we’re hoping to do better on Monday. I’m happy they gave me this role – I’m brand new and they’ve given me one of the most important duties,” Dionne added.
Early in the season, Dionne has had to adjust quickly to several new aspects with his new team. All communication with his teammates is either in Spanish or Italian, and recognizing his teammates in a pack are two elements that Dionne must deal with in addition to his duties as rider.
Dionne will be back in the saddle on Monday but will take a rest day on Tuesday – not unusual for the Challenge where riders don’t necessarily compete in all stages. “I would have liked to do all five stages in order to prepare myself for the season, but I’m happy with this arrangement. It was fast at the end of this stage and I was happy to feel my legs were spinning well,” said Dionne.
Monday’s Stage 2 is 159.4K race with rolling hills – Cala Millor to Cala Bona.
Stage 1 – Palma-Palma – 100K – 180 riders
1. Isaac Galvez, Caisse d’Epargne – Illes Balears, 2h 09m 17
2. Martin Elmiger, Phonak Hearing Systems, st
3. Heinrich Haussler, Gerolsteiner, st
25. Charles Dionne, Saunier Duval – Prodir, st