Posted by Editoress on 06/30/06
Road National Championships ITT Quebec City
Elite Men's Photos
Elite Women's Photos
Junior Men's Photos
Junior Women's Photos
The Canadian Road Nationals opened Thursday with the time trial events. Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) successfully held off a challenge by European-based pro Ryder Hesjedal (Phonak) to win his third consecutive men's title. In the women's event, 22 year old former speedskater Alexandra Wrubleski (H&R Block) overcame a torrential thunderstorm halfway through the race to win her first national title, beating former world championship silver medalist Anne Samplonius (Team Biovail).
The circuit drew criticism from most riders for its rough surface, multiple turnarounds and narrow, tight corners. While the road race and criterium events take place in the center of Quebec City, the time trial was held approximately 20 kilometres west of Quebec, on the south shore of the St Lawrence river. The full course was approximately 9.4 kilometres, in the shape of a square. Riders headed north, then hung 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 dogleg provided the varying lengths required for the different categories. All categories did one lap, with the exception of the elite men, who did two - meaning three 180 turns.
Rain held off until the women were on course in the mid-afternoon. At first a shower, it turned into a full-blown thunderstorm by the time all the top riders were on course. After 15 minutes the sun came out and the rain went away as quickly as it had arrived.
"It was really coming down" said Samplonius. "I was at the far end of the course, it was everything - thunder, lightening and the rain was so hard that you couldn't see anything. There was so much rain on the road you could feel it bogging you down. I tried not to let it affect me and just stayed focus, but it meant you had to be really cautious in the corners."
The women's results were somewhat confusing, with Samplonius the fastest elite woman, but Wrubleski the fastest U23, and a miniscule four-hundredths ahead of Samplonius. Since the UCI does not recognize the U23 category for women (except in mountain biking), this made Wrubleski the national champion. Third place was taken by Jessica Spence (Wheels of Bloor), one of the very first riders off who missed some of the worst of the rain, and was also only 28-hundredths behind Wrubelski. Two-time defending champion Sue Palmer-Komar (Colavita/Cooking Light) finished tenth, hampered by a leg injury suffered in a crash a week earlier at the Rochester G.P.
Wrubelski is only in her second full year of racing, and has risen through the ranks quickly, with strong rides this season at the Montreal World Cup and Nature Valley G.P. As a speedskater, she ranked herself just below the national team level (a very high level in Canada), and rated her win here "definitely very, very high. Everyone respects the national title."
The 22 year old seemed a little stunned by the attention afterwards, and admitted that she still hasn't decided whether she is a cyclist or a speedskater. "I started cycling as training for speedskating. Then I went to the Canada Summer Games last year and got a silver medal in the Crit."
"I'm still not sure what sport I am in, but I know that right now I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. I have a new coach (retired racer Paul Kelly), and a lot of support from my new team (H&R Block)."
Wrubelski's win automatically preselects her for the world championships in Salzburg, Austria.
The men's race was expected to be a battle between top domestic rider Tuft and Hesjedal, fresh off strong rides in both the Dauphine Libere and the Volta a Catalunya. Separated in the start order by eight-time champion Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics), after the first turn the two were almost neck-and-neck, with Tuft having a five second advantage. By the third turn it was clear that Tuft was fully recovered from the respiratory infection which had been plaguing him at the Tour de Beauce, as he had pulled nearly 30 seconds in front, and ended up catching his minute man Wohlberg two kilometres from the finish. Wohlberg hung on for third.
Afterwards, Tuft was clearly pleased and relieved. "That was a good day, man. I was suffering at Beauce, and so I was worried about defending. After Beauce I went down to New Brunswick with (team mate) Christian (Meier) and had a good rest."
"I could see everything was coming around, and when I made a hard effort yesterday, I knew 'Yeah, this is where I need to be'. But, Ryder is riding unreal right now in Europe, so you don't know where he is going to be. That definitely motivated me, and I knew that I had to come with my best game."
Hesjedal, recognizing that the time trial was his best opportunity to gain a national road title, was disappointed. "I was starting to feel better as the race went on, but unfortunately it was a little shorter than I would have preferred. The best time trialer won today, no question. Svein has shown his strength before; I'm a decent time trialer, but not a specialist. This year I've been working on my climbing, I've lost between four and five kilos, which has paid dividends on the big mountains, but you don't know how it affects your time trialling."
- First year U23 rider David Veilleux (Team Quebec), overcame pressure as the local favourite to beat defending champion Christian Meier (Symmetrics) by a decisive 12 seconds. Veilleux, who showed his promise last year by winning the Tour de l'Abitibi, admitted "I know this course very well, I have practiced here a lot. This is my best ever victory for sure; I was sick last year at the Nationals, so I was extra motivated to give it my best this year."
- In the Junior races, Eric Smith (Team Alberta) took the men's race ahead of Andrew Nichol (Team Manitoba), while an ex-runner who took up cycling only last December stunned the women's field. Julie Beveridge (Bicisport) beat favourites Danielle Kenny (Team Alberta) and Karol-Ann Canuel (Quebec) by six and 13 seconds respectively. "I guess I'm a cyclist now. I'm a little shocked, I certainly wasn't expecting this. Normally if I can stay with Danielle (Kenny) I'm doing well."
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