July 20/10 12:03 pm - Canadian Women Race Dwaars door Westhoek, Belgium
Posted by Editoress on 07/20/10
The Course: 127 kilometre total distance with a 60ish kilometre out-and-back loop followed by seven laps of a 9.5 kilometre non-technical circuit. Some highlights of the course included five QOMs (perhaps more appropriately called Queen of the Hills) and about 800 metres of pavé (which are obviously distinct from cobbles.)
The Field: 140 starters from what seemed to be mostly from the Benelux regions and Great Britain. In total, there were five UCI teams and two National Teams, plus non-UCI trade teams like Nanoblur-Gears from Toronto, Canada.
Our Team: Lex Albrecht, Julie Beveridge, Veronique Drapeau-Zgoralski, Julia Garnet, Cara Gillis, Leah Guloien, Moriah MacGregor, and Steph Roorda.
Left to right: Top step - Leah Guloien, Moriah MacGregor, Julia Garnet;
Middle step - Cara Gillis, Veronique Drapeau-Zgoralski, coach Denise Kelly;
Front step - Lex Albrecht
After a twenty minute herding session at the start line, the race got off. Three things struck me immediately during my first European race: the cornering here is "different" than in North America; the sidewalk is considered part of the course; pavé is horrific.
The excitement started to happen at the base of the first climb. The pace was quite high and riders were getting shelled in all directions. There were several crashes on both the climbs and the descents; however, when the climbing was over after the first 35 kilometres the field came back together. Moriah, Julia, Leah, and Steph had great positioning near the front of the pack coming into. Lex and Julia were sitting mid-pack, and Veronique and I were a bit too far back for comfort.
Just before entering the circuit, Liesbet De Vocht and Petra Dijkman got away. This turned out to be the winning move and they finished first and second. Throughout the race on the circuits, the pace would vary considerably and several riders fell victim to the surging and the inevitable crashes that happened on some of the narrower roads. As I was also one of the riders who got a first-hand look at Belgian ditches, I then had the pleasure of getting intimate with the caravan until I could finally chase back on.
Coming in to the final kilometers Julie and Leah had great positioning, but the chaos in the final corner, about 500 metres from the finish, held them up. The final drag along the pavé/pseudo-cobbles was intense with Suzanne De Goede taking the field sprint. As we crossed the finish line the first thought through my head was to find the shortest way off the pavé and find our great staff to get a coke.
Report by Cara Gillis