On the podium at Tour de Beaue
After a weeks rest and recovery following the Philly Classic the team headed north to Quebec and the Tour de Beauce. Beauce is part of the UCI Americas Tour and consists of 6 stages spread over breath taking terrain. The course included rolling hills, spectacular climbs, and an amazing downtown Quebec City circuit through the old city. The team headed there with high hopes; in 2012 Matt Cooke had finished 1st on the Queen Stage of Mt. Megantic, and ended up 5th overall in the General Classification. This year he was 2nd on Mt. Megantic. The first two stages were both long and challenging. Although they lacked any grueling climbs the wet weather made them very difficult. Both days were sprint finishes and the team did an awesome job keeping Matt safe and comfortable in the peleton. The weather cleared and Stage 3 started under awesome conditions, which made the climb up to Mt. Megantic just a touch easier. As the final climb began Matt and a select group of climbers took their leave of the peleton and battled all the way up to the finish. Matt attacked with 1k to go and was almost able to hold off a charging Francisco Mancebo. He finished 2nd on the stage and moved to 2nd in GC. In the Time Trial Matt blasted the 20k course and took 5th on the stage. He took another 3 seconds out of Mancebo's lead and was within 2 seconds of the yellow jersey going into Stage 5. The Quebec City circuit lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest in North America. Of the six of us to start the stage only four finished but Matt was able to stay in contention despite the course and the weather. With only 40s separating the top 6 in the GC everyone knew that the sixth and final stage would decide the final podium. Stage 6 would see half the peleton drop out and the entire podium would get flipped upside down. Half way through the stage a dangerous break of 10 riders got off the front including 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the GC. Despite the efforts of Mancebo, Matt Cooke, and both of our teams the gap did not come down in the closing kilometers. Matt fell to 5th GC and was bummed to miss out on the podium. It was a very hard six days, and although the end result was not what we wanted, it was still an awesome race.