Stage 4 in Quebec City may have been the shortest stage of the Tour de Beauce at only 70 kilometres, but it still proved to be decisive, with yet another lead change and rearranging of the classifications. Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) won the stage from the breakaway group, but Luke Valenti (Ecoflo Chronos) became the fourth rider in four days to don the Yellow Jersey after finishing seventh in the breakaway group; he also holds the Red Jersey of the Best Young Rider. The Points Jersey went to Evan Russell (Cycling BC), while the Climber’s Jersey remains with his team mate Eric Inkster.

The riders faced 35 laps of a rectangular two kilometre circuit by the provincial legislature, next to the old city of Quebec. The finishing straight is a shallow but steady climb its entire length. This year, steady rain and gusting winds dropped the temperature to the low teens, and the stage came after three days and nearly 500 kilometres of tough racing.

The peloton started shedding riders almost immediately. Five riders did not finish, one missed the time cut after being pulled early, and 23 were pulled, but received a pro-rated time so they can start the final stage on Sunday. Only 57 of 86 starters finished on the same lap as the winner, and only 80 out of 99 original starters will begin the final stage.

Despite the driving rain, attacks began almost immediately, with four riders finally making a move stick about a third of the way into the race – Jerome Gauthier (Ecoflo Chronos), William Hardin (Project Echelon), Gabriel Guay (EC Makadence Primeau Velo) and Julien Gagne (Skyline). This group worked steadily to creep away to more than a minute on the field. Cannondale Echelon, the team of Yellow Jersey holder Felix Bouchard, went to the front of the bunch to pull them back, but couldn’t make a dent in the gap.

With eight laps remaining, two danger riders attacked out of the peloton – Carson Miles (Toronto Hustle), third on GC and the winner of Stage 3, and Valenti, second on GC. Stites and Russell (fourth on GC) reacted on the next lap and bridged across to the chasers. With less than two laps to go, the four chasers caught the four leaders; someone in this group of eight about to become the new race leader.

Stites attacked with less than 200 metres to go to finish one second in front of Gauthier and Russell, followed by Miles at five seconds and Valenti in seventh at eight seconds. It was enough to put Valenti into the Yellow Jersey by 18 seconds over Russell, with Miles a further two seconds back, and the former leader, Bouchard, now 56 seconds back.

“With the rain and the turns, I knew it was going to be a hard crit,” said Stites. “I think the race blew apart after an hour or so, and we took advantage of that. [A break] was in the back of our heads, but we just wanted to be aggressive today; yesterday we had a miserable day, with just bad legs, so we just wanted to be aggressive today and see what happened. It turned out great.”

Valenti, only 19 years old, was a bit shocked to move into the Yellow Jersey, “We knew if Carson or Stites or Russell went, that I should follow or [team mate] Matisse [Julien] should follow. It worked out really well, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better to happen. I really wasn’t expecting to take Yellow today, so it’s a really pleasant surprise.”

Valenti also expressed confidence in his team’s ability to defend the jersey in Sunday’s final 122 kilometre stage, “I think the guys are ready and they are going to give it all for tomorrow.”