October 11, 2005 – A windy grey morning opened the festivities for Stage 5 of the Quebec Cyclocross at scenic Montmorency Falls. A cold wind made kites out of the banner tape, but nonetheless a hearty gang of ‘crossers came out to work up appetites for Thanksgiving turkey. Work up an appetite they would, riding up and down grassy hills, through lightening fast single track, flying across barriers, the course was made for speed. Well, other than the interminable concrete stairs and the winsome turns through an apple orchard, which caused the applesauce-y downfall of many a pre-race rider.
The men’s event was full of action and suspense as riders wound around the scenic site. Current ‘King Of Quebec Cross’ Benoit Simard (Perigny) took an early lead together with mountain bike whiz-kid Raphael GagnÃ© (La Vie Sportif) and a supercharged Luc Proulx (Xprezo) within the first few laps of the race. The threesome mini-pack was followed by hard-charging favourites Pascal ‘Babuss!’ Bussieres (Biogen-Idec) and David Gagnon (Sportif Bromont) with chase times varying between 10-15 seconds.
The latter two spent the entire race ceding places one to the other, while up front, Simard, GagnÃ©, and Proulx chased each other relentlessly. Simard got away from GagnÃ© and Proulx on the stairs, and rode away into the single track, where he emerged solo, followed by Proulx. GagnÃ©, tripped up by a flat tire, never caught the two lead men, who went on to finish first and second, respectively. Meanwhile, Bussieres and Gagnon once again changed places; this time for good, as Gagnon rode across the finish line for third, followed by Bussieres.
The women’s race was host to a quasi-record of 10 participants. Despite a rocky start which featured a bumper-bikes episode at a sharp right-hand turn leading to a grassy descent, all went smoothly. Marie-Pier Bedard (Espoirs Laval) took an early lead, showing her criterium skills, while second-place favourite Joanie Caron (Elicycle/Louis Garneau) had to expertly battle through the ‘cross traffic to earn herself another silver medal for the weekend.
The field quickly stretched out across the course throughout the duration of the forty-something minute race. Grabbing up the third spot on the podium was a surprise win by newbie, Edith LaFlamme (La Vie Sportif), who surely will make an interesting addition to the women’s cyclocross crowd.
Of note was the appearance of sixty-something Pierre Gendron (Independent) for both Stages 4 and 5 of the series. In fine form, Gendron held his own against the combined pack of Senior and Masters riders. “Everyone was a gentleman, letting others pass where need be. It was very smooth today. I loved the apples!” praised Gendron, a ‘crosser for the past four years whose participation proves that cyclocross is the real secret to staying young at heart.Senior Men
1. Benoit Simard – Perigny
2. Luc Proulx – Xprezo
3. David Gagnon – Sportif Bromont
1. Marie-Pier Bedard – Espoirs de Laval
2. Joanie Caron – Elicycle / Louis Garneau
3. Edith LaFlamme – La Vie Sportif