I am very honored to have the privilege to race with Probaclac/Devinci for the month of June, starting with Winston Salem and finishing up with Beauce. Coming into the trip I was filled with feelings of excitement and nervousness. I didn’t really know what to expect from these races and how our team dynamic would be, but from the first time I was introduced to the guys in North Carolina, I knew we would all get along. We all bonded from day 1 and everyone felt like family. As we traveled up to Canada where I was staying in Trois-Rivieres, I was out of my element with the cold and wet weather of Quebec. My first race was in Nordet and it sure was a harsh introduction to Quebec but the beauty of the landscape made up for it. The following week we traveled up to Baie-Saint Paul for the Grand Prix Charlevoix. The team had a lot of success here with a stage win and multiple podiums. This was a good moral booster and showed good things to come in the two big races coming up.
Just a few days later we traveled up north for the Grand Prix Saguenay. This race ended up being one of the hardest I have done. 4 stages, each with multiple circuits that included a large climb every lap. The hard courses coupled with harsh conditions, made finishing the race a task in its own. While the team didn’t get any significant results at this race, it was a necessary kick in the teeth to humble us from the weekend before.
With just 2 days in between Saguenay and Tour de Beauce, there is little to do except sleep and eat. With most of the riders doing the double, fatigue was starting to set in, but the moral was high. The first stage was long and hard, but the team rode extremely well. I had my focus on the stage 2 summit finish the entire trip and was motivated to get a result there. With a cold rain in the forecast, the race was full gas from the start to try to establish the breakaway. We rode well and made the selection of the day. However some misfortune took me out of contention and I was unable to give the summit finish an effort. While this was a huge disappointment, I tried to not let it ruin the team vibe. Since GC was out of the question, the team decided to play all of our aggressive cards for the rest of the stages. While we may not have gotten a podium, we certainly went down fighting. We raced for the win everyday and it a full team effort.
While my “canadian campaign” may have been a disappointment results wise, I learned more lessons than I could have hoped for. From sharing training tips and race tactics to mental tactics and strategy. Each of the riders fed off each other’s success and everyone was willing to lend a helping hand to aid in each others progress in the sport. The support crew for this team was beyond what I could have hoped for as well. Everyday, they made our only job to race our bikes and took care of everything else. Stephane is a true professional and has put his full dedication into this team. I can’t thank him and everyone else on the team enough for this awesome opportunity and experience. I am truly honored to have been chosen to race with this team. Hopefully this is not the last you have seen of Sean Gardner!