June 7, 2011 (Lachine, QC) – Remi Pelletier-Roy (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton) took the first win of the season in the Elite men’s 50km race as the 34th annual Mardis Cyclistes series got underway with a strong field of 114 riders on start line and great conditions in Lachine, a suburb of Montreal. Martin Gilbert (SpiderTech p/b C10), just back from the TD Bank Philadelphia International Championships, was second and Arnaud Papillon (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton) rounded out the podium in 3rd.
Mardis Cyclistes Stage 1 Report
Given the strong international presence at this evening’s start line, there were guesses that an Australian, a Japanese, an Estonian, or even a French cyclist would win the first stage of the Mardis Cyclistes bicycle races in Lachine. But it turned out to be Remi Pelletier-Roy (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton), a 20-year-old rider from Longueuil, who won the first stage of the men’s pro Elite race of the Mardis Cyclistes 2011 season.
Pelletier rode the 50km of this criterium in a time of 1 hour and 32 seconds, with an average speed of 49.5 km/h. Martin Gilbert (SpiderTech p/b C10), an Olympian from Chateauguay and former Mardis champion, finished second while Arnaud Papillon (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton) completed the podium.
Team Garneau dominated the show for the entire evening. On the 22nd of 31 laps, the guys in the pink Garneau jerseys moved to the front. A breakaway group – including Pelletier-Roy, Shaun McCarthy and Papillon – quickly built up a 20-second lead over the pack. Although Garneau is based in Quebec City, team member McCarthy is from Australia.
A few laps from the finish, Jean-Samuel Deshaies (Rocky Mountain) pulled off a coup as he bridged to the breakaway group. However the Garneau riders quickly neutralized the threat.
“This is my first ever victory in Lachine and that should boost my confidence. In fact, my teammates have perhaps more confidence in me than I do,” explained Pelletier-Roy. “When Shaun (McCarthy) said, ‘Remi, you should go for it’, I wasn’t too sure that my legs could do it. But I went to the front and never looked back!”
Pelletier-Roy rode the last lap of the race solo ahead of the pack to win the first round of the 2011 series. Behind him, other members of the breakaway group were swarmed by the pack just before the finish line.
Gilbert, a four-time champion of the Mardis, was somewhat disappointed with the race. His Pro Continental team, SpiderTech p/b C10, is of a higher calibre than the other competing teams and is allowed to send no more than three cyclists to the Mardis races.
“Yes, it was disappointing not to have finished first. I let my teammates, Guillaume (Boivin) and Charly (Vives) do all the work. But at the same time, I was somewhat less fresh for the sprint. With only three guys in the field, we had to gamble,” said Gilbert. However he was still happy to take second place.
Papillon led the pack for eight of 31 laps. This earned him the black jersey to distinguish him as the most aggressive cyclist of the race.
Defending champion, Jean-François Laroche (Fantino Mondello – Cycles Régis), went down in a spectacular crash only five laps from the finish. Nonetheless he managed to end up in sixth place at the early evening race in Lachine.
“A cyclist went down directly in front of me and I tried to pass over top of him. I didn’t manage to get high enough and was catapulted into the air. It was like crashing into a sidewalk at full speed. That was a tough race,” said Laroche.
Despite the mishap, he waxed philosophical, saying, “The season has just started. People saw our (team’s) poorest performance this evening. We will only get better from here.”
Earlier in the evening, Shawn Turcotte (Prud’homme IGA) won the junior men’s race. Veronique Drapeau-Zgoralski (Juvederm-Specialized) finished on top of the podium in the junior women’s race.
Among the minimes, it was Édouard Laparé-Morin (Espoirs Laval) and Melyssa Fortin (Vélo Club Longueuil) who won their respective races.
1. Remi Pelletier-Roy (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton)
2. Martin Gilbert (SpiderTech p/b C10)
3. Arnaud Papillon (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton)
4. Pierrick Naud (Rocky Mountain-Desjardins Valeurs Mobili)
5. Sam Witmitz (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Norton)