Posted by Editoress on 07/6/08
Road National Championships - Men's Road Race St Georges QC
Road National Championships - Men's Road Race St Georges QC
Christian Meier (Symmetrics) made the transition from Under-23 by swapping his U23 national title for the Elite men's road title on Sunday. However, despite the support of the powerful Symmetrics squad it was not an easy victory, with Bruno Langlois (VW-Specialized) surging back on the final climb to finish less than a bike length behind Meier. Meier's team mate Jacob Erker took the bronze medal, while David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast) finished seventh to win the U23 title.
The 173 kilometre course was familiar to anyone who had raced the Tour de Beauce a few weeks earlier - the 9.6 kilometre circuit was stage five. Dominated by a finishing climb of 1500 metres, the course has enough twists and turns to be a criterium circuit, and favours breakaways with the constant shifts in speed and tempo. However, strong crosswinds discouraged single riders or small groups, and the 18 laps and high 30 degree temperature broke a lot of riders, with only 35 of 135 starters finishing.
Symmetrics, with 11 riders, was definitely the dominant team in the race. Their strategy was to cover every move up the road, latch onto serious rivals such as Dominique Rollin (Toyota United) and Francois Parisien (Team Race Pro), and then put one or more of their top riders - Meier, Svein Tuft, Cam Evans - into a winning position.
The race turned into one of attrition, with a large group going off the front in lap two. A near constant reshuffling of riders rotating up and falling back required a scorecard to keep track.
The initial group at the front included Pascal Bussieres (2peer.com), Jean-Sébastien Perron (Eva-Devinci) Jake Erker, Erik Wohlberg (Symmetrics), and Mark Walters (Team Race Pro). They were quickly joined by Mark Pozniak (Team Race Pro) and Georges- Édouard Duquette and Martin Gilbert (both Équipe du Québec). Zach Bell (Symmetrics) jumped across during the third lap, bringing Gilbert back with him, after the Quebec rider had crashed heavily from hitting a pothole. Gilbert rode the rest of the race with ripped shorts and a bloody elbow and leg, eventually dropping out with a couple of laps to go.
This group was large enough to battle the wind, and contained all the main teams except VW-Specialized. It motored out to a two and a half minute lead but couldn't extend any further, with Rollin and Parisien both making serious efforts to get across, only to find one or more Symmetrics riders on their wheel each time.
At the midpoint of the race, with the peloton down to half its former size, four riders managed to bridge across: Derrek Ivey (Mazurcoaching.com), Buck Miller (Team RACE Pro), Jeff Sherstobitoff (Symmetrics Cycling) and Bruno Langlois. But the pace was picking up, and the lead was about to get reshuffled into its final form.
Rollin made another effort to get across, with Meier on his wheel. While Rollin made it to the back of the break, it had split after an attack by Wohlberg. Meier immediately jumped again to get across to the leaders.
"I went with Dom, " explained Meier "and when we reached the back of the group in front I didn't even wait, I just went straight to the front and up to the next group."
With seven laps to go, the race was finally taking shape, with a lead group of five: Walters, Erker, Langlois, Derrick St John (Jet Fuel Coffee) and Meier. A chase group followed at 40 seconds with Wohlberg, Ryan Roth (Team Race Pro), Dominique Perras (Eva-Devinci) and Jean-Michel Lachance (VW-Specialized), followed by a third group containing Rollin, and a fourth group with Parisien, Tuft and Evans. The second, third and fourth groups would combine, but they were a spent force, and discouraged by the presence of the still reasonably fresh Cam Evans and Svein Tuft.
At the front, Meier and Erker had taken charge, with Meier surging on the climb each lap. With five laps to go, St John fell off, and a lap later it was Walters, leaving just Meier, Erker and Langlois to go for the win. Langlois appeared to be getting a bit of a free ride, and when Erker cramped up with two laps to go, it began to look like Symmetrics might have made a bit of a miscalculation.
"It was up to them [Symmetrics] to do the work, " said Langlois "they had more riders, and were the powerful team."
Meier professed himself to be less worried about the situation, "he told us that he was having problems with his feet, and I could see on the climb that he wasn't going as well."
It was down to these two for the national title, and after the Symmetrics team car came up for a chat with Meier, it appeared to finally force Langlois to contribute to the effort, although Meier was still the one at the front on the climb.
Going into the final 1500 metres of climbing to the finish, the two were still together, riding side by side and not looking at each other. Meier finally jumped with 500 metres to go and immediately got a gap, so it looked like the race was over, until Langlois struggled back in the last 200 metres and was starting to challenge again, before he ran out of course.
"I was cramping on the climb for the last two laps," revealed Langlois "and I could not stand. When Christian went at 500 metres I could not respond, but I was able to go harder sitting down and came back to him. Maybe, if the course was a little longer..."
"It was definitely a hard, hard day out there," commented Meier. "I couldn't have done it without Jake and the rest of my team; any one of them were strong enough to win, I just happened to be the one who got in the breakaway."
Meier has been the Under-23 road and time trial champion, but moved into the Elite category for the first time this year. "This is a big win for me, one of my biggest, for sure. I've won the Under-23 before, but this is at a whole other level."
- Symmetrics stated earlier in the year that they were in a bit of a sponsorship/financial crisis, and had the funds to run a full program through Nationals. So does that mean this is it for Canada's top team? According to Meier "we are still going, there is BC Superweek, and some of the guys are off to Cascade right away. Then there is Tour of Utah and Missouri. We can still do these races because they aren't too expensive on the budget, and some expenses are taken care of."
When asked what about offers from other teams, Meier suddenly got fidgety and grinned. "There might be some stuff coming up, but we'll have to see. There might be some news coming out."
|U 23 Men - 173 km|
|1. David Veilleux (QC) Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast||4:41:39|
|2. Éric Boily (QC) Volkswagen||at 5:42|
|3. Dave Vukets (ON) Trek Red Truck P/B Mosaic Homes||6:55|
|4. Georges-Ãƒâ€°douard Duquette (QC) Eva-Devinci||8:23|
|5. Charly Vives (QC) Calyon pro cycling team||9:16|
|6. Jean-Michel Lachance (QC) Volkswagen||10:07|
|7. Guillaume Boivin (QC) Ãƒâ€°quipe du QuÃƒÂ©bec||10:31|
|8. Ryan Taylor (PE) Atlantic Cycling Centre||10:32|
|9. Mark Batty (ON) Team RACE Pro||s.t.|
|10. Arnaud Papillon (QC) Volkswagen||10:32|
|11. Michael Joanisse (QC) Ãƒâ€°quipe du QuÃƒÂ©bec||10:42|
|12. AndrÃƒÂ© Tremblay (QC) Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle||10:46|
|13. Joel-Dion Poitras (QC) Team RACE Pro||11:00|
|14. Jamie Riggs (ON) Team Ontario||11:03|
|15. Adam Thuss (QC) Team RACE Pro||15:22|
|DNF. Philippe Leduc (QC) CIBC Wood-Gundy|
|DNF. Mathew Bell (QC) Calyon pro cycling team|
|DNF. Andrew Bradbury (ON) Team Ontario|
|DNF. Kevin Hazzard (ON) JetFuel Coffee|
|DNF. Antoine Matteau (QC) Garneau-Crocs-Suzano|
|DNF. Vincent Quirion (QC) Garneau-Crocs-Suzano|
|DNF. Ben Rempel (SK) Team Saskatchewan|
|DNF. Ryan Anderson (BC) Symmetrics Cycling|
|DNF. Ryan BÃƒÂ©liveau (NB) Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle|
|DNF. Guillaume Bilodeau (QC) IndÃƒÂ©pendant|
|DNF. Mathieu Boudier-RevÃƒÂ©ret (QC) Club Cycliste CGR|
|DNF. Bruno Bourassa (QC) Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle|
|DNF. Bryson Bowers (ON) Jet Fuel Coffee|
|DNF. Dave Brooks (SK) Team Saskatchewan|
|DNF. Charles Bryer (ON) Ciclo Werks Presents Tempo 88|
|DNF. Dominic Cantin (QC) 2peer.com|
|DNF. FranÃƒÂ§ois Chabot (QC) Volkswagen|
|DNF. Christian Deshaies (QC) Volkswagen|
|DNF. Thomas Devisscher (QC) Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle|
|DNF. Marc Dugas (QC) Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle|
|DNF. Geoffroy Dussault (QC) Sports Bazar Inc|
|DNF. Steffan Elzinga (ON) Cyclingnews Jako|
|DNF. Kyle Fry (ON) Team Ontario|
|DNF. Sandy Fulton (ON) Eva-Devinci|
|DNF. Simon Gagnon-Brassard (QC) Eva-Devinci|
|DNF. Zack Garland (NL) Kona-Adobe|
|DNF. Shane Gill (PE) Atlantic Cycling Centre|
|DNF. Dominic Guiver (ON) Team Ultralink|
|DNF. Nic Hamilton (BC) Team Aviawest|
|DNF. Christopher Hillier (BC) IndÃƒÂ©pendant|
|DNF. Andrew Hunt (ON) Team RACE Pro|
|DNF. Maxime Joly-Smith (QC) 2peer.com|
|DNF. Stephen Keeping (QC) Bluberi-Martin Swiss|
|DNF. Louis-Charles Lacroix (QC) Ste-Foy-Qc MÃƒÂ©tro|
|DNF. James Larmer (ON) Sudbury Cycling Club|
|DNF. Nicolas LefranÃƒÂ§ois (QC) CIBC Wood-Gundy|
|DNF. FranÃƒÂ§ois-Charles Malo (QC) Volkswagen|
|DNF. David Maltais (QC) Eva-Devinci|
|DNF. Garrett Mc Leod (NS) Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle|
|DNF. Chris Mcgarity (SK) Team Saskatchewan|
|DNF. Stephen Meyer (ON) Team Ontario|
|DNF. Evan Mundy (ON) Team Ontario|
|DNF. Geoff O'toole (NS) Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle|
|DNF. Keir Plaice (ON) Team RACE Pro|
|DNF. Jonathan Prosser (ON) Team Ontario|
|DNF. Eric Robertson (ON) Team RACE Pro|
|DNF. Brian Robinson (AB) Team Alberta/ CMC/ Bow Cycle|
|DNF. Olivier Savaria (QC) 2peer.com|
|DNF. Joel Sidhu (QC) Team Ultralink|
|DNF. Spencer Smitheman (AB) Creusot Cyclisme|
|DNF. Duncan Sturz (PE) Atlantic Cycling Centre|
|DNF. Charles Thibault (QC) Eva-Devinci|
|DNF. Jean-Philippe Thibault-Roberge (QC) Rocky Mountain/Pro-Cycle|
|DNF. Brandon Throop (ON) Mazurcoaching.com|
|DNF. Kurtis Vallee (BC) Team Aviawest|
|DNF. Vincent Veilleux-Lessard (QC) 2peer.com|
|DNF. Jan Zak (ON) Mazurcoaching.com|
|DNS. Paul Benson (MB) Alter Ego Sports/Manitoba|
|DNS. James James (BC) Kinesis UK|
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