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20th Tour de Beauce Bell - 2.2

Canada, June 14-19, 2005

No pussy-footing expected at 20th Tour de Beauce

Preview by Matt Hansen

Health Net's John Lieswyn is a favourite after his Nature Valley victory
Photo ©: Caroline Yang
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International cycling returns to St. Georges, Quebec, as teams from Canada, U.S.A, Poland, Australia and Germany get set to take on the twentieth edition of the Tour de Beauce Bell. This year sees a slightly different six days of riding, omitting the über-epic Mont Megantic stage. In its stead, however, are several days that are bound to sting even the toughest of legs that couple the long climbs and rough, straight roads of the Beauce region. In years past the racing often began passively with the big guns seeming to wait until the Megantic stage, allowing long breakaways that didn't affect the GC. With that factor removed most followers of the race agree the aggressive riding should begin from the gun, and continue until Sunday.

Despite a recent heat wave in the Eastern parts of Canada, the Gods of Beauce seem content to shower the stages with thunderstorms; the forecast for the first three stages week is rain, rain, and more rain. That being said, the group of possible contenders for the overall should already be small by the time the time trial stage (27km) starts the double day on Friday. Following the late-night criterium, riders will hit a very selective Saturday circuit race in downtown Quebec city. If that's not enough, the final stage is another difficult hilly circuit race of 12 laps with a flat, fast finish.

Favourites for the event should include both Health Net, coming off a 6-week road trip that includes wins at the USPRO champs, with 2003 winner John Lieswyn leading the green team; and a Euro-hardened Navigators team, led by Chris Baldwin. Cyclingnews.com is a last minute addition to the event-its debut at the race-with guys like Glen Alan Chadwick, Cameron Jennings to ready to represent down under. And don't discount the Canadian pro team Symmetrics, led by 1995 Beauce winner and time trial star Eric Wohlberg, to be in the hunt for both stage wins and the overall.