September 18, 2017 (Victoriaville, QC) – Saguenay’s Antoine Duchesne (Direct Énergie) ruled the day to take top honours at the third running of the Appalachian Classic with its grueling 137 km course and 2,700 m of ascent, disposing of Julien Gagné (Silber Pro-Cycling) within 200 m of the finish line with a phenomenal burst of power.
In women’s action, Alberta’s Kirsti Lay (Rally Cycling) carved out a comfortable lead to clinch the 113-km race with a cushion of nearly 10 minutes over multi-decorated former national team rider, Lyne Bessette (Inde?pendant), of cyclocross fame as well. Luce Bourbeau (Inde?pendant) finished 3rd on the podium followed by Veronique Vandersmissen (Inde?pendant) in 4th with Elisabeth Albert (E?C E?lite Apogee Sports) in 5th.
Cramping our winner’s style
Duchesne, who flies today to Norway for next weekend’s World Championships, waited for just the right moment to stand up on his pedals and spend those final energy reserves. “The competition was a notch higher this year, and in contrast to 2015 and 2016, was played out over the last 500 meters. We had great weather and the course was beautiful with smiling volunteers everywhere. But the Classic is a very hard, technical race, and with the wind we suffered a lot. In my professional career, including the Gran Tours, I’ve only had cramp twice: both in my two participations in the Classic,” Duchesne laughingly explained.
Laurent Gervais (Aevolo) and William Blackburn (Vélo 2000 Peak Centre) tried valiantly but unsuccessfully to catch up with the leading pack, the first six being good enough in the saddle to resist any challenge. In Saint-Rémi-de-Tingwick, the breakaway had a two-minute lead and Duchesne added to it by attacking the top on the climb up r. Leclerc. As they approached Tingwick, he did it again with another attack to which Roberge, Thibault and Côté Bouvette were unable to respond.
With the remaining trio just a few kilometers from the finish, expectations were that the two Silber Pro- Cycling teammates Julien Gagné and Nikolas Zukowsky would use strategy to outrun Duchesne. Zukowsky, however, had already suffered cramps and couldn’t contribute to the effort, ending finally some 70 seconds behind the leader.
Ideal preparation for the World Championships
Among the women, the Albertan Kirsti Lay (Rally) literally flew over the course, finishing with a lead of more than nine minutes over her closest rival, Commonwealth Games gold medalist and six times Canadian champion, Lyne Bessette. “This race is incredibly beautiful, but also extremely demanding. I had the time to tell myself ‘wow, it’s beautiful!’ But after that, I would begin to suffer again,” laughs the friendly and smiling Lay. The latter also considers The Appalachian Classic as an ideal preparation for the World Championships which take place next week in Norway. “It will be difficult in Norway and it’s been difficult here too. I knew it would be a good preparation and I’m not disappointed,” Lay added.
World Champion of the Gran Fondo Masters in the 40-44 age group, Michel Jean, climbed onto the top step of the ‘Amateur A’ podium for the first time, edging out Victoriaville’s Jérôme Fradette and Olivier Hébert by seconds. Competition was also tight in ‘Amateur B’, where Claude Samson took first place only 10 seconds ahead of Miguel Sanchez, and 28 seconds ahead of Ron Amos, winner of the two previous editions.
In total, close to 600 professional cyclists and amateurs took part in this year’s Appalachian Classic, an event offering an exceptional showcase on Victoriaville and its region that keeps growing in popularity since its birth in 2015. The new Gourmet Course was especially popular, due in great part to its accessibility, its variety of discoveries and the quality of the offerings. The event president, Alexis Pinard, has already confirmed the return of this 80 kilometre trip next year. “We were in test mode and everyone was super happy with the result. Participants said it was a beautiful experience, as much for the eyes as for the belly. They were not only satisfied with the products offered and meeting with producers, but many have even done a full grocery shopping for home along the way! The Classic has becomes a vehicle combining three niches for Victoriaville and its region: cycling, tourism and local produce,” Mr. Pinard stated.
Mission accomplished for Charles Moreau
Paralympian Charles Moreau needed about four hours to complete the difficult course using his handcycle. The 107-kilometer panoramic route is roughly twice the distance of his most usual cycling competitions. “I loved my experience. It’s been difficult, but I crossed the line and achieved the end of season challenge I had given myself. So, it’s mission accomplished,” explained Mr. Moreau.
1. Kirsti Lay (Rally Cycling) 3:29:20
2. Lyne Bessette (Indépendant) 09:12
3. Luce Bourbeau (Independant) 14:40
4. Veronique Vandersmissen (Independant) 16:21
5. Elisabeth Albert (ÉC Élite Apogee Sports) 16:41
1. Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energy) 3:56:45
2. Julien Gagné (Silber Pro-Cycling) 0:05
3. Nikolas Zukowsky (Silber Pro-Cycling) 1:10
4. Adam Roberge (Silber Pro-Cycling) 3:57
5. Jean-Denis Thibault (H&R Block) 4:24
Full results here.