The World Cup in Canada might have been canceled for last weekend, but a Canadian race of international proportions still went off without a hitch. The Appalachian Classic went underway, offering competitive gravel riders a chance to keep themselves deep within a pain cave with plenty of climbs, and more relaxed riders the opportunity to take on sights that few gravel roads in North America can provide.
The race report from Appalachian Classic is listed below, with full results to follow once available.
by Alexis Pinard
Victoriaville, September 19th, 2015 – The Appalachian Classic (Victoriaville, Canada) concluded its first edition with a spectacular win from Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies rider Michael Woods, who will be wearing Garmin-Cannondale colors in 2016. Early in the race, a break of four riders set the tone for the day which ended with a fierce fight between Woods and TEAM Europcar, Vuelta Espana finisher Antoine Duchesne.
Woods closes the books in second-to-last climb
Michael Woods (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) cleared away from the break in the last 10 kilometers of the race. Antoine Duchesne (TEAM Europcar) et Rémi Pelletier-Roy (Garneau Québecor) finished 2nd and third, while the last breakaway rider James Piccoli (Vélo Sélect), concluded the day in 4th place.
“It is a great feeling to win this very difficult race today. The fact that I am winning my weight in Maple Syrup is awesome and I just can’t wait for my next pancake breakfast!”said a smiling Woods after his win.
The four man breakaway took off shortly passed St-Norbert-d’Arthabaska, after only 19 of the 135 kilometres, and never looked back. After more than 123 km of long and difficult climbs, Antoine Duchesne increased the pace of the group of 4 but to no avail. As the group reached the 10km mark, Michael Woods banking on his strong climbing skills imposed a fast rhythm to the race, just when the riders were hitting the steepest climbs.
Duchesne followed and sustained the pace, hitching a ride on Woods’ burning wheels, but was unable to pass him. Piccoli and Pelletier-Roy, in a typical mano- a-mano, fought the battle for the ultimate spot on the podium. “It’s an incredibly tough race which leaves no time to recuperate. The dirt sections were fast and I have to admit that this is the breakaway in which I suffered the most this year. I really tried to catch Mike and crack him at the end, but I fell short,” said Duchesne.
American rider Timothy Rugg (Ride with Rendall p/b Biemme) came in fifth. Adam De Vos (H&R Block Pro Cycling) also had a good day being the first to attack at the beginning of the race; De Vos took 6th. Swiss and cyclocross riders Simon Zahner et Marcel Wildhaber finished 9th and 11th.
Véronique Fortin also earned her weight in Maple Syrup by clinching the Pro Women title. Lex Albrecht and Elizabeth Albert finished 2nd and 3rd.
The Appalachian Classic is not for the faint at heart : at average of 2% for its entire 135 km course with the steepest climb reaching 19%. Wind was also a factor blowing at an average of 20 km/h for the duration of the race.
First Edition: A Great Success
Riders were very pleased with both the organisation and the course. Timothy Rugg, has already announced he will be back next year with friends « the course was just fantastic. It is by far the best dirt race I took part in in my career.
Pro cyclocross riders, Simon Zahner et Marcel Wildhaber, just coming off CrossVegas, were impressed by the challenge presented by the course « It was testing and fun at the same time. We want to be back for sure! », said Zahner after the race.
Co-founder and President, Alexis Pinard, was happy with both riders and Gran Fondo participants comments and kept his most heartfelt thanks to the group of volunteers that made the event possible: « The Classic, as we like to call it, is first and foremost 200 awesome volunteers, over 15 different municipalities. Without their resourcefulness, passion and positive attitude we never could have succeeded. » Pinard said that he is already hard at work for next
About the Appalachian Classic
La Classique des Appalaches—or Appalachian Classic—was created to allow riders in Eastern Canada and the U.S. Northeast to extend and end the season in grand style. Among the most unique and challenging one-day races in North America, it comprises ascents reaching over 2,700 meters (8,860 ft) and an epic journey some 135 km (84 mi.) both on asphalt (90 km/56 mi.) and graded dirt roads (45 km/28 mi.).
The Appalachian Classic is a not-for-profit organization which, through its competitive and recreational rides, strives to promote Victoriaville and its region while contributing to the development of cycle sports. Its Board of Directors is composed for the most part of local stakeholders, which in turn facilitates local mobilization and community support for this unique event.
More info: appalachianclassic.com