August 11/02 21:15 pm - Criterium Championship Story
Posted by Editor on 08/11/02
2002 National Road Race Championships
Some of the most exciting racing of the national championships took place today in the criterium. Eric Wohlberg (Saturn) lapped the field to take the men's title, while the women's race came down to the final sprint, with Andrea Hannos (Rona) nipping Carrie Tuck (Alberta) for the sprint and the title.
Hannos took the early sprints to build up a lead before Tuck, Sophie St Jacques (Trek Plus) and Isabelle Gagnon (Equipe du Quebec) managed to break away for 15 laps and rack up points. Both riders finished with 17 points, with Hannos getting the win because of more sprint victories.
Tuck knew that it would come down to the last sprint. "I did know, because my coach yelled it out from the sidelines. I didn't have enough left at the end because I had been taking longer pulls then the other two, since I was worried about being caught."
Hannos wasn't as aware of the necessity of taking the final sprint. "We didn't have any radios, but I knew I was up there (in points). I figured that every point would count, so I really went for that final sprint."
The men's race was an awesome display of power by one of Canada's top riders. After watching the sprinters battle it out for the first few points sprints, Wohlberg literally rode off the front of the peloton.
Min Van Velzen (Sympatico-Jet Fuel) was just caught after a break when Wohlberg went clear. "I knew it was coming. He had been launching attacks after the sprints, but hadn't been getting anywhere. Then, he was pretty quiet for a few laps, so we should have all known he was going to try something."
For lap after lap, steady as a metronome, Wohlberg steadily ate up the 1.1 kilometres between himself and the field. Nat Faulkner came closest to catching the Saturn rider, but couldn't quite get across.
"Andrew (Pinfold, Ital Pasta-Atlas Cold Storage) came up, but wouldn't pull through. I could see first place going away up there, but couldn't do anything about it."
Meanwhile, Wohlberg actually held off catching the peloton, since he wasn't sure how the rules would work.
"I wasn't sure if when I caught them, we would all be on the same lap again, sprinting for points (like in a track points race), so I held off until after the last (intermediate) sprint before catching them. The safest place was out in front, and I was out in front. scooping up easy points. I just kept it nice and steady."
While first place may have been sewed up, it was still a battle for the silver medal. Van Velzen jumped with 3 laps to go, and was joined by Charles Dionne (Equipe du Quebec). Second place would go to whomever won the sprint, with the bronze medal to the loser.
Coming into the sprint, the money had to be on Dionne, one of the top sprinters in North America, who regularly battles with Gord Fraser.
"I wasn't sure where I was on points" said Dionne. "He took me a bit by surprise and had a long sprint. He just had a bit more in his legs after yesterday, when I was doing a lot of work chasing (the break) down."
Van Velzen was surprised and pleased with his silver medal. "I didn't think I could beat him, but I wanted to give it my best shot. I pretty much sat on his wheel the whole last lap. I think he was a little tired."
- Wohlberg was one of the only pros who came to the criterium - which is not a national title event. He showed up, rode in the TimBits challenge with 250 prospective future stars, and then wowed the crowd. "I'm here (in town) and I wanted to support the national championships, and put on a show for the crowd." That is class.
- Wohlberg suggested that, in the future, "all championships should be decided by time trials." That would allow us to recycle photos for a few years...
1. Eric Wohlberg (Saturn) 30 points
2. Min Van Velzen (Sympatico-Jet Fuel 22 at 1 lap
3. Charles Dionne Equipe du Quebec 16 at 1 lap
4. Tim Lefebvre 14 at 1 lap
5. Andrew Pinfold (Ital Pasta-Atlas Cold Storage)12 at 1 lap
1. Andrea Hannos (Rona) 17 points
2. Carrie Tuck (Alberta) 17
3. Sophie St-Jacques (Trek Plus) 16
4. Gina Grain (Genesis Scuba) 14
5. Julie Hutsebaut (Equipe du Quebec) 9
Note: Hannos won the last sprint to break the tie.
1. Marsh Cooper (Devo/Powerbar)18 points
2. Guillaume Fausse (Equipe du Quebec) 16
3. Francoise Sztuke (Equipe du Quebec) 13
4. Craig De Geir (Atlantic Cycling) 10
5. Jean-Sebastien Lavoie (Equipe du Quebec) 10
1. Ed Makarchuk (Halton Road and Trail)23 points
2. Yannick Cojan (Martin Swiss/ Sport Experts) 18
3. Chris Paton (?) 11
4. Hans Loeffelholz (?) 10
5. Jay Murray (Trek-VW) 9