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Team Canada had a strong day on the penultimate sixth stage of the Tour de l’Abitibi Junior race, with Nickolas Zukowsky of St-Agathe, Quebec, moving into the overall race lead.

The Tour de l’Abitibi is the only internationally sanctioned stage race for Junior men in North America, and attracts national teams from around the world.

Zukowsky and team mate Matthew Staples of Barrie, Ontario, initiated a 25 rider breakaway on the 109-kilometre stage, which rode away from the peloton, including race leader Brandon McNulty (Team USA). The group eventually finished the stage 1:27 ahead of the peloton, which put Zukowsky into the overall lead by 19 seconds, up from 12th place at the start of the day. Staples moved up to fourth in the overall standings from 15th, 34 seconds back.

Team Canada also moved into the overall lead in the Team Classification.

“We were just going for some bonus seconds,” explained Zukowsky. “I think they [Team USA] weren’t expecting this, and it took quite a while for them and the Danes to figure it out, so we were able to gain quite a bit of time on them. I think it worked out pretty good. Team USA and Denmark … that’s a lot of firepower, but we’ll do our best to keep the Brown Jersey.”

The Tour de l’Abitibi concludes on Sunday with a 99.9-kilometre stage from Sainte-Germaine-Boulé to Rouyn-Noranda.

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