Posted by Editoress on 07/8/07
Canadian Road Nationals
Sunday saw the Paralympic and Junior riders take to the road course for the 2007 National Road Championships, with both the Junior men's and women's events coming down to a small breakaway group sprint to decide the national champions. Denise Ramsden (Team Ontario) and Stephane Cossette (Eva-Devinci) were the victors in the Junior events.
The 20 kilometre circuit would be familiar to anyone who has raced the Tour de Beauce, with numerous rolling climbs. However, the decisive factor proved to be a strong, gusty wind, which discouraged solo breakaway efforts.
Danielle Kenny (Team Alberta), winner of the time trial on Thursday, and second in the both the TT and road race last year, was the primary aggressor in the women's four lap race, with a group of seven splitting from the rest of the 26 rider field within the first five kilometres. Less than half a lap into the race and there were three at the front - Kenny, Ramsden and Lindsay Argue (Team Manitoba). Argue was gone from the front by the end of the first lap, and it was down to Ramsden and Kenny.
Kenny continued to be extremely aggressive, attacking repeatedly, only to have Ramsden steadily ride back up to her, and that proved to be the downfall of the Alberta rider.
"I went too hard, too early," she admitted afterwards. "I underestimated the wind, and after the time trial I wasn't too sure how strong Denise was going to be. My biggest mistake was not working with her in the first part of the race. The wind turned out to be a super big factor."
Ramsden had a sub-par performance in the time trial, finishing fourth, 1;40 down on Kenny. "Maybe I was just nervous, but I just wasn't good on the day. I just had a bad time trial."
When Kenny attacked on each of the first two laps, she could not respond initially, but worked her way back up, and that strategy turned out to be the right one, when Kenny flatlined with two laps to go.
"It was too much power early in the race for me, but once Danielle backed off, I started feeling better and stronger through the race. It was definitely better for the two of us to ride together, and that way we could stay away until the end."
"I sat on for the last 35 kilometres," said Kenny. "So, I didn't feel justified sprinting at the finish."
The pair came across the line together, with Raphaelle Chretien (Equipe du Quebec) leading the peloton home for the bronze medal, nearly six minutes down.
The men's six lap, 120 kilometre race was enlivened by a small crash at the back of the field on the first lap, and then turned into a series of attacks and counterattacks, with none but the final one able to succeed.
The first break to get a sizable margin was on the second lap, when Hugo Houle (Team Quebec) and Devon Novakowski (Team Ontario) managed to gain 30 seconds by the end of the lap. Houle dropped back to the peloton on the next lap, but Novakowski kept at it on his own, extending his lead to over a minute by the start of lap three.
He hovered at a minute for another lap, but the wind was grinding him down, and by early in the fifth lap he had been caught and a counterattack of three had taken his place. This one looked stronger, led by Simon Lambert-Lemay (Equipe du Quebec), with Matt Potman & Owen Harrison (Team BC) struggling to hang on and contribute as the gap grew to nearly a minute.
The two BC riders cracked at the start of the final lap, on the climb, and Lambert-Lemay struck off on his own. However, the remnants of the peloton could see him on the long straightaway into the crosswind and hunted him down in a series of small chase groups, which coalesced back into a group of 30 riders with 12 kilometres to go.
It was only two kilometres later, after a series of attacks that the winning move of three riders managed to sneak away. Guillaume Boivin - Cossette's team mate (although riding for Equipe du Quebec) started the break.
"Boivin was just ahead of the peloton, not really a break, just a small gap," explained Cossette. "So I bridged up and so did the BC rider (Evan Flater - Aviawest-Rocky Mountain). I could tell that this break was the one; we were giving it our all, and the gap was increasing pretty quickly."
With Eva-Devinci, Quebec and BC represented, this proved to be the break with the right ingredients, and the trio went nearly a minute clear in the final ten kilometres, with Cossette easily outsprinting Boivin and Flater for the title. Local St-Georges rider Vincent Quirion (Garneau-Crocs-Ogilvy Renault) took the field sprint for fourth. In an impressive display of depth, Quebec riders took all of the top-ten spots except for Flater's third place.
- The men's tandem race featured an unusual and exciting battle between two teams before the Daniel Chalifour and Alexandre Cloutier managed to drop the Quebec team of Stephane Cote and his pilot (name unknown) in the final 12 kilometres. This pair of tandems dropped the other teams after the first lap, but were still together as they entered the final 20 kilometres. Chalifour/Cloutier attacked on the climb, but Cote's team came back. They attacked again in the tailwind section, to no avail. It was only in the crosswind that they were able to finally drop the other pair. Definitely something to watch tandems attacking and chasing each other at 50-60 kilometres an hour.
- Tomorrow is the start of the Elite and Espoir events, beginning with the time trials. The women go first, at 9:00 am (all times local EDT) for 20 kilometres - the same route as used at the Tour de Beauce last month. The Espoir men start at 10:00 am for 30 kilometres (a little further out before turning around), and finally the elite men at 1:30 pm for 40 kilometres.
There are 40 women scheduled to start, with national champion Alex Wrubleski (Colavita-Sutter Home) last. Just in front of her will be Anne Samplonius (Expresscopy.com), who would dearly like to grab that jersey. Other names to watch include national crit champion Merrill Collins (La Bicicletta), Felicia Gomez (Aarons), Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine) and former champion Lyne Bessette (Equipe du Quebec), who has unknown form. Also on the list is former national team member (both cycling and triathlon) Sue Schlatter, who may surprise a few people. Wrubleski has had a bit of a last minute scramble - her team only made skinsuits in her national champion's colours, and she can't race that at Nationals without receiving a substantial ($1200) fine. Hopefully, she can borrow a skinsuit from Colavita team mate Charles Dionne, but if not she says that a black magic marker will be coming out...
For the Espoir men, look to a battle between Christian Meier (Symmetrics) and David Veilleux (Jittery Joe's), while the surprisingly small (39) Elite men's field will see the usual battle between two-time champion Svein Tuft (Symmetrics), Ryder Hesjedal (Team BC - Health Net/Maxxis) and eight-time champion Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics). Potential upsets are Dominique Rollin (KodakGallery) and Greg Reain (Calyon-Litespeed), who was sixth on this course at Beauce. Wohlberg only just received his TT bike, after all his luggage was lost between San Jose (California) and Quebec.
Tuft calls the out and back run "A good little course. It is undulating, with long rollers; it is always a tough course on that side of the river in Beauce. If it is windy like today, that will be a huge factor. But I like it tough, so bring it on."
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