Posted by Editoress on 06/29/06
Road Nationals Preview Quebec City
The first event of the 2006 Road Nationals will be the time trial on Thursday. While the road race and criterium events will take place in the center of Quebec City, the time trial will be held approximately 20 kilometres west of Quebec, on the south shore of the St Lawrence.
The circuit offers few geographic challenges, such as climbs, but does feature the notorious bumpy roads that Quebec is known for. The full course is approximately 9.4 kilometres, in the shape of a square. Riders head north, then hang two lefts on the next legs before making a 180 turn in sight of the start line and retracing the route back to the finish. Shortened turn around points, and an added segment give the varying lengths required for the different categories. All do one lap with the exception of the elite men, who do two - meaning three 180 turns.
The roads are narrow, with riders going in both directions. This means the corners will be very tight (with loose gravel shoulders), so riders can get into trouble if they are carrying too much speed, or shave the corner - as Ryder Hesjedal (Phonak) did in a training session this evening.
The schedule is very spread out (see posted start lists), with the elite men not starting until 6:00 pm, and a winner unlikely to be declared until after 8:00 pm. This could be a problem for the last riders if it is overcast, since some wooded sections were already getting quite shadowy even in bright sunlight.
Hesjedal commented on the rough roads, and said "it is a course that you are just going to have to hammer on the whole way. The bumpy roads really throw off your rhythm."
(A few photos of Hesjedal testing out the course.)
Hesjedal and defending champion Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) are the favourites. Both have had strong rides recently, with Hesjedal finishing 19th in the Dauphine Libere and 4th in Catalunya, while Tuft was 4th in the time trial at Beauce two weekends ago.
The women's race is wide open. Two perennial favourites are gone - Lyne Bessette (retired) and Genevieve Jeanson (suspended and subsequently retired) - while two-time defending champion Sue Palmer-Komar (Colavita) crashed heavily last weekend, sustaining severe bruising to her right hip.
"I didn't think it was that bad when it happened" says Palmer-Komar "but then it swelled up; it was a huge hematoma. So, I definitely won't be at my best. I will ride and do my best - it doesn't bother me when I'm riding my bike, but I don't know if I have any power because I haven't stressed it too much so far."
Besides Palmer-Komar, other potential champions include Erinne Willock (Webcor Platinum) and last year's surprise bronze medalist Felicia Greer Gomez (Webcor Platinum).
- approximately 700 riders have signed up for the championships; nearly double the number of last year. This has led to long lines at registration, and the organizers ran out of numbers (they began hand writing them).
- Many of the elite women are upset about the back-to-back scheduling of their races - with the ITT Thursday and the road race the next day. The men race tomorrow and Saturday, giving them a an extra day to rest up after the ITT. One top rider said "to me this just says that the CCA considers the men as the whole show."
- Kevin Lacombe (Volkswagen Trek) will be racing the time trial - his first race back after dealing with a blood clot problem. Lacombe has been on blood-thinning medication, so riding in packs where crashes are possible is not a good idea. He is anxious to test his form.
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