Thetford-Mines, Canada – Champion System Pro Cycling Team's Craig Lewis soloed to victory out of a three-man breakaway that enjoyed more than 100 kilometers of freedom Wednesday on Stage 2 of the Tour de Beauce.
After escaping into a 3-rider break 40 km into the Tour de Beauce's 160 km Stage 2, Champion System's Craig Lewis did the unthinkable. Holding off the charging peloton for more than 100 km, he sprinted across the line 5 seconds ahead of runner-up Jamie Spalding for his 1st victory since suffering career-threatening injuries in last year's Giro d'Italia.
"This couldn't mean more to me," Lewis said after the race. "You always doubt your comeback until you have that one day, and today was that day for me. It's been a long road, but it felt pretty darn good to cross the line first."
The 27-year-old American fractured his right femur and broke two ribs in a high-speed crash in Stage 19 of the 2011 Giro d'Italia and underwent a complicated bone graft operation in December. Wednesday, he not only proved he's back; he earned his biggest victory since winning the U23 national road race and criterium in 2006 and his first individual race win in eight seasons as a professional.
Aboard his Altamira, Lewis jumped 40 km in and together with Raleigh's Spalding and Pure Black Racing's James Williamson, the trio built up a more than 3-minute lead, despite brutal crosswinds and 15% grade sections.
At the 100 km mark, only Spalding was able to keep up with Lewis. He later told Cycling News, "We all shared the workload until the last 30 km or so, and then it was just the Craig Lewis show."
Winning Sprint 2, KOM 2, and picking up a time bonus at the finish, Lewis nearly climbed his way into the yellow jersey, catapulting himself to 2nd in the GC - just 3 seconds behind race leader Francisco Mancebo.
Teammate Matthias Friedemann, coming off his Stage 1 podium finish, just missed a second podium, taking 4th in Stage 2. Now 4th in the GC, Friedemann also leads the Points Classification.
Teammate Adiq Othman is currently leading the Young Riders Classification and sits at 8th in the GC. With 3 riders in the Top 10, Champion System also leads the Team Classification.
Lewis' inspiring win comes after Will Clarke's May 20th victory at the prologue of the Tour of Japan and Clinton Avery's win on May 31 at BaseCamp International.