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October 4/07 8:27 am - The Canadian Conspiracy?


Posted by Editor on 10/4/07
 

The Canadian Conspiracy?

An Editorial by Matt Hansen

Are we as Canadians our own worst enemy sometimes? It's not a new theme - this has been talked to death before in culture, arts and sports. As a nation, we've never been the most patriotic - our biggest unifying maxim of late comes from a beer commerical that defines us not as something (Canadian) but as NOT something (American.)

(We don't have time to analyze the dollar parity right now; that's a whole other topic.)

So what about this past weekend's world championships? No medals. Of course, each race only has, well ... three medals, so there's a whole lotta other countries that went home empty too. I was impressed with a few rides - notably Wrubelski's top-ten, and Meier's U23 RR. For Wrubleski, it was a decent result after a notably sub-par season, compared to her breakout 2006. Alex was right there in the finale - a bike length more, and we'd be talking about a medal.

Christian Meier had a great ride in the road race as well. After a strong Tour de l'Avenir where he was top-10 most of the stage race before having to retire on the last stage due to nagging knee pain from a crash. In the road race, Meier was in a potentially winning move of three that was ultimately caught in the final laps. I was pretty stoked for the guy, although I kept wondering what would happen if the Norco-sponsored rider won on a borrowed Specialized. Yikes.

It was fairly well-known that Svein Tuft came to the road worlds very tired, but still was obligated to do his best for his nation. After a long year of defending his UCI America Tour jersey, and winning it - a first for any North American - he rode on fumes and eventually quit the race. Dom Rollin, one of the most talented riders in Canada, also DNF'ed, as did Cam Evans, our current national road champ. It's the road worlds - one of the toughest one days of the season.

Although Kris Westwood is a close and old friend of mine, I was slightly miffed at the way he wrote up the day for the CCA (Ed. - See CCA report and revision below editorial). Obviously, the CCA also signed off on Kris's report, so at the end of the day I guess my criticism would be aimed at them. Comparing the Canadian trio to Junior hockey players racing against NHLers seems hardly fair. Dom Rollin is reportedly being scouted by a few ProTour teams. Dom is a super-talented rider who handily took last year's road nationals over Tuft.

Svein Tuft has had offers from ProTour teams but refused them to ride with his Canadian Symmetrics squad. Cam Evans, one of Canada's shining stars - remember, our most winningest rider, Gord Fraser only just beat him at the 2004 Nationals when Cam was still an espoir - is of the same pedigree. Here's a rider who almost quit after he was run over by a car in Australia and fought hard for a full year before he could even ride again.

This year Canada has come a long way - last year the men were ranked 8th amongst the UCI America nations. In 2006, the nation got 431 points in total and with that one spot at the 2006 Worlds road race. This year, the country has jumped to 3rd with a total of 977 points. That means one more spot for the Olympics for the men.

After I read the CCA report, it sounded more like "well, the guys all sucked but we knew it was going to happen, so who really cares?" Is that what we think of our elite men's road race team? The men's elite road race has always been the pinnacle of the sport, and to read that sort of language is definitely disappointing.

I just hope I'm not the only one that hasn't given up on the elite men. We've been spoiled with amazing rides by the elite women - Bessette, Jeanson (yeah, yeah), Palmer-Komar, Samplonius, (and Sydor, Premont on the dirt), and had some pretty phenomenonal U23 rides (who remembers Barry getting 8th? I do.) Do we really think that Michael's fantastic 7th at Hamilton (in the break, no less!) was a one-time deal? Sure, Steve Bauer is long since retired, but doesn't our current crop of riders deserve a bit more respect? I am....Canadian?


Tough day for Canada's elite men
Courtesy CCA

Editor's Note: The CCA has edited their original report after complaints of negativity. Below is the original press release sent out to the media and reported on the CCA website, followed by the new version

The three Canadian riders in the men's elite race on Sunday at the World Road Cycling Championships Stuttgart, Germany, did not finish. Olympic champion Paolo Bettini of Italy successfully defended his title with Alexandr Kolobnev of Russia second and Stefan Schumacher of Germany third.

Dominique Rollin of Boucherville, Que., Svein Tuft of Langley, B.C., and Cameron Evans of Delta, B.C., withdrew in the 12th, 11th and 10th laps respectively. There were 14 laps in total.

"The 270-kilometre course was tough and to be honest, this was a completely different level of competition," said Canadian team manager Kris Westwood. "It's as if the guys went from junior hockey to the NHL. It was the first elite race for all three at the World Championships. We knew they wouldn't be in contention for a medal and the question was how long they could last against such a powerful field. Today nobody had a memorable day."

On the sixth lap, a 40-rider pack took-off and built a two-minute lead. The Dutch team worked hard to reel the pack back in but without success. With four laps to go, it was the Italian squad that reduced the gap and put its leader Bettini in a strong position for the finish. The frenetic pace imposed by the Italians proved to be successful but drained the Canadians.

Rollin learned many lessons. "I felt comfortable on the course except for one very steep climb [Herdweg climb]," he said. "I hadn't raced such a long distance since June so I tried to be more conservative. The reason I stopped was probably due to nutritional issues. After 200 kilometres, I started to have headaches because of a low sugar intake and dehydration. I hadn't raced the distance in four months so I wasn't used to eating for recuperating so much."

Revised version

The three Canadian riders in the men's elite race on Sunday at the world road championships in cycling in Stuttgart, Germany, did not finish. Olympic champion Paolo Bettini of Italy successfully defended his title with Alexandr Kolobnev of Russia second and Stefan Schumacher of Germany third.

Dominique Rollin of Boucherville, Que., Svein Tuft of Langley, B.C., and Cameron Evans of Delta, B.C., withdrew in the 12th, 11th and 10th laps respectively. There were 14 laps in total.

On the sixth lap, a 40-rider pack took-off and built a two-minute lead. The Dutch team worked hard to reel the pack back in but without success. With four laps to go, it was the Italian squad that reduced the gap and put its leader Bettini in a strong position for the finish. The frenetic pace imposed by the Italians proved to be successful but drained the Canadians.

Rollin learned many lessons. "I felt comfortable on the course except for one very steep climb," he said. "I hadn't raced such a long distance since June so I tried to be more conservative. The reason I stopped was probably due to nutritional issues. After 200 kilometres, I started to have headaches because of a low sugar intake and dehydration. I hadn't raced the distance in four months so I wasn't use to eating a recuperating so much."

 


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