February 10, 2006 – The Challenge Iles BalÃ©ares has once again pushed cyclist Charles Dionne to self-realization on Thursday (Stage 5). The Quebecois cyclist finished in 128th place, 34 minutes and 6 seconds behind the winner, German rider David Kopp (Gerolsteiner).
Kopp won the stage in 3 hours, 50 minutes and 11 seconds, just ahead of Italian Lorenzo Bernucci (T-Mobile), and Spaniards Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Julian Sanchez (Comunidad Valenciana).
Dionne was able to finish the race with the pack – although at the end of it – riding the 149.3K between Magalluf and Palmanova which featured five climbs (three Cat 2s and two Cat 3s). The Saunier Duval Prodir team member finished the race alongside Russian riders Denis Vorontsov and Ivan Terenine of the Omnibike Dinamo Moscow team.
Dionne was pleased with his performance in the mountain stage Thursday. “I knew I wasn’t riding to place, but rather in order to better prepare myself for future races. I knew it was going to be a difficult stage today and it was. The race began very aggressively – the first 30K were very winding and the roads were narrow. I tried to get myself into a good position in the first few K’s but it really hurt after the first climb. I was shuffled to the back of the pack at that point,” said Dionne.
The 26 year-old athlete was not able to rejoin the main pack after that. “I was tired after yesterday, but nevertheless, I think I’ve already made some progress – which is a very positive thing. I finished the stage again today, which is great. To have stopped would have done nothing for me – if I keep going, then eventually I’ll be able to finish with the pack.”
Dionne is satisfied with his first experience with his new Spanish team Saunier Duval – Prodir. “It’s been a good first race with everyone – I had a good second stage!”
From February 19-26, Dionne will participate in the Tour of California. “That will be a new race for me – but in cities I am already somewhat familiar with. I hope to do a good job, and I think it’s possible. In the eight days of the race, there will be some days which will suit my specific abilities.”