Chapeau! Quebec native Pierrick Naud wins GP Sageunay Criterium

Amos, Quebec native Pierrick Naud made his first win for Optum Pro Cycling a signature one, sprinting to victory on home soil in front of a massive crowd at the Grand Prix Cycliste Saguenay’s stage three criterium.

“To race here in Quebec with such a great sprinter’s team is very exciting,” said Naud. “The guys made it hard for other teams for the entire race, and lined up perfectly to get Guillaume and I in position for the finish. Our strategy was executed to perfection. You couldn’t ask for more!”

Boivin sprinted to third in the criterium and chalked up fourth place finishes in stages one and four, two road races sampling the region’s hillier terrain and ending in select sprints. Boivin won the points classification, and finished third in the general classification. Naud’s consistency overall the four days of racing earned him sixth overall on GC. Naud and Guillaume Boivin are both Quebec natives and continue to live in the French Canadian province.

The team on-hand in Saguenay was ideal for contesting sprints. Boivin and Naud accompanied by a wealth of lead out horsepower – Eric Young, Brad Huff, Tom Soladay, and Bjorn Selander all contributed greatly to the Québécois duo’s dual chance at the line. Massive, enthusiastic crowds have long been a staple of Canadian bike racing, and even with gloomy conditions spectators lined nearly every inch of Saturday’s 1-mile loop. The race sped through Chicoutimi, the city’s most popular district.

“We had some old school fury today,” said Performance Director Eric Wohlberg, quite familiar himself with Canada’s vibrant racing scene. “It was one of the first times all year I have seen the guys really, really light it up. We took it to them all race long, and delivered Naud to the line exactly as planned.”

Anthony fourth in brutal Winston-Salem circuit race

Back on American soil, the two day Winston-Salem Classic wrapped up with a hard earned 4th place for Jesse Anthony in a grueling 177 km urban circuit race. Jesse Anthony fought through a chaotic day of racing laden with reshuffles at the front of the race, eventually ending in a solo escapee Tom Skujins (Hincapie Racing) taking the win.

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Tom Zirbel had an especially active day of racing, driving a 3-man breakaway for most of the day. The breakaway did not have the numbers or horsepower to gain serious time during the 14-lap race, and a tired peloton, faced with 10,000 feet of climbing on the 14-lap course, eventually disintegrated into the kind of every-man-for-himself race that helps make the case for cycling as the pinnacle of suffering in professional sports.

Anthony was in fine form on Sunday and prepared to turn the race in the team’s favor until an untimely puncture left him out of position at a key moment. Teammate Scott Zwizanski smartly gave up his wheel to Anthony, who quickly recovered the back of the field, but not in time to latch onto a small group sneaking away at the front. The fourth place finish was disappointing, but a good sign of Jesse’s form heading into another course featuring lots of punchy climbing coming up this weekend at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.

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