Luke Valenti, with the assistance of his Ecoflo Chronos team mates, held on to the Yellow Jersey on the final day of the Tour de Beauce, to become the youngest winner in the history of the race at 19 years of age, and the first Canadian winner since James Piccoli in 2018.
Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) took his second straight stage win and vaulted from fifth to second in the overall standings, as well as taking the Points Jersey. Valenti also won the Best Young Rider jersey (Red), and Eric Inkster (Cycling BC) held on to the Climber’s Jersey.
The 122 kilometre final stage of Beauce consists of 12 laps of 10.2 kilometre circuit through the streets of host town St-Georges. It is dominated by a 1.5 kilometre each lap, but the many twists and turns through residential streets force riders to constantly break and accelerate. It has regularly seen major changes in the General Classification, as riders and teams falter. This year, 50 riders of an original 99 starters finished the entire race.
Ecoflo Chronos set a high tempo in the opening laps, which discouraged breakaways, but eventually six riders went clear – Stage 1 winner Matisse Julien (Ecoflo Chronos), Stage 2 winner Cormac McGeough (EC Makadence Primeau Velo), Laurent Gervais (Cannondale Echelon), Matteo Dal-Cin (Toronto Hustle), Cade Bickmore (Project Echelon) and Nick Kleban (Team Skyline). The group steadily increased the gap, reaching a maximum of two minutes before settling back to 1:30 with four laps to go.
This made Julien the virtual leader on the road, but the bunch was starting to pick up the pace, and a group of top contenders went clear with three laps remaining, shattering the peloton. Valenti and Stites formed the first chase group, while Stage 3 winner Carson Miles (Toronto Hustle), third on GC, was in a second group with Evan Russell (Cycling BC), who was second in GC. Russell was dropped, and Miles couldn’t manage to catch the riders in front of him, but Stites and Valenti did catch the lead group.
Stites was particularly aggressive in the final lap, and won the three-way sprint for the stage, ahead of Gervais and Dal-Cin. Valenti rolled across the line in fifth, but Miles could only manage ninth, still good enough for third overall.
“Honestly, I can’t believe it,” said Valenti about his win. “Last week I was thinking maybe I could be top ten …. I honestly have no words. We knew that we just had to follow Evan, Carson and Tyler if they went. The boys just kept the break in check, and all I had to do was my job by following those guys on the climb. It all worked out great. Matisse, he went all in for me [when he joined the break]; I couldn’t have asked for anything better, I’m grateful for him in the break to help me there.”
Dal-Cin explained, “the strategy for us today was to ideally put either myself or Joel [Plamondon] up the road in an earlyish break, knowing that this race traditional has a late move from the big GC players, so we were hoping Carson would come across with that and that we would have a team mate there to help him out. It almost panned out that way – Carson was just a few seconds of [making] that move and never made the junction. But I think we had a really good race and performed up to our expectations. We came here hoping to be in contention for the win, and we did that. I couldn’t be happeir with the way the boys rode.”