Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce: Best Race in North America?
While Quebec City is gearing up to hopefully host a Tour de France stage or two in 2008, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce is launching its 18th edition June 17th-22nd.
The first stage will end in the most European city in North America after the riders complete 125km. Hardly a prologue, the peloton will traverse over the Saint-Lawrence river from the South Shore to the National Capital and loop what promises to be an extremely selective circuit. Keep in mind the city hovers several meters above the river, still symbolically protected by a rampart stone wall.
I am still astounded at how few know about arguably the hardest stage race this side of the pond. The Beaucerons are a very proud yet hard working bunch and keep their game of cards close to their chests. One can’t stop progress and the race has proven worthy of welcoming the who’s who of pro cycling today. In fact, 1987 winner Yvan Waddell is the first non-Beauceron to obtain presidency of this enterprise since its inception. The early GPCB years boasts names few may have heard about, solid racers I rubbed elbow with back in the day such as Bruno Giangioppi, Chris Koberstein, Jacques Landry but also Roland Green, all of whom have placed before. Now we’re name dropping, Canadian legend Steve Bauer took third in 1996, Leipheimer (now with Rabobank) won it twice in a row-1998-1999- Rioux, Vaughters, Vogels to name a few more.
Jeez, if you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to drive up, be it for the Cyclosportive (register: [email protected] ) two days before the start on June 15th . Join the fun and meet the challenge! Less than an hour over the US border. Make a vacation of it while riding the roads the pros will be soldiering on. Reckoning the days working the famed Tour DuPont, a 10-11 day event ran by a full time staff of eight and 882 volunteers, the GPCB runs on a shoestring in comparison. In 1999, the number of teams went from 13 to 20 thanks in part to the point system offered through the UCI (2.3). 2000 was a crucial year in terms of recognition by the various Provincial departments. Governmental and private sector funds solidified an event maintained by a staff of approximately ten passionate individuals and roughly 250 volunteers.
Returning in 2003 is the lung searing, gear wrenching stage to Mont-Megantic on day 4. Last year’s overall victor Michael Rogers of Australia may not return due to Mapei disbanding. The organization hopes despite the current world events, European and American armadas alike will be joining in the fray in June. More on that later as PCN proposes to update our readers on the Tour’s pro teams and sponsors as we count down the days before the start of the hardest stage race in North America.