Posted by Editoress on 06/12/10
The first edition of the Chrono Gatineau UCI time trial proved to be a success, with pro riders Ben Day (Fly V Australia) and Evelyn Stevens (HTC-Columbia) becoming the first to have their names inscribed on the trophy of what organizers hope will become an annual event.
Despite early worries of rain after teams woke to wet roads and drizzle, the rain held off for the women's 17.2 kilometre race, and conditions began to improve through the men's 34.4 kilometre event, to the point of blue skies and hot sun by the end of the men's race.
The out and back circuit took riders down one side of a divided highway and back along the other, on what were possibly some of the smoothest roads in the province of Québec, a jurisdiction notorious for potholed and frost-heaved pavement. There were no climbs of significance, but shifting winds kept riders guessing as to where to position themselves. The women faced cross-tailwinds on the way out, but by the time the men rode it had shifted to a straight headwind on the outward leg. The women did one lap and the men two.
Linda Villumsen (HTC-Columbia) was only the ninth rider to start in the 43 rider field, but her time of 23:16.17 was the fastest of the day until her team mate Stevens - seventh from last to start - finally broke it by 11.52 seconds. Stevens started just behind Alison Starnes (TIBCO), who finished third, 44.28 seconds back, followed by U.S. champion Jessica Phillips (Colavita Baci) at 1:01.10 . Sue Schlatter, former Canadian national team member was the top Canadian, in fifth, followed by Canadian national time trial champion Tara Whitten (Specialized Mazda).
Stevens, a first year pro was excited by her win. "I didn't know what to expect, I'm pretty good at time trials, but I'm still learning every race. The course was great, and definitely harder than I expected. All I could do was go out there and ride my best."
For Whitten, it was her first return to racing after winning two world titles on the track in late March, and then injuring her elbow, requiring surgery.
"It's been a month since surgery, and the swelling is pretty much gone down. I've been riding, but I really didn't know what to expect. I had hoped to be closer than a minute [1:03.05], but my goal on the road is the world championships, so I've got lots of time to get my form back."
In the men's race, the first two riders on course - Derrick St-John (Garneau Club Chasure) and Will Routley (Jelly Belly) - set the bar high, with what would prove to be the seventh and sixth fastest times of the day, respectively. Along with Charly Vives (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy), who finished eighth, they were the only riders from the first wave to finish in the top ten.
Morgan Schmitt (United HealthCare p/b Maxxis) finally knocked Routley out of the lead, but he held it for only six riders before Canadian national road champion Aaron Fillion (Ride with Rendall) bumped him.
However, the two favourites were on course, and well ahead of the rest of the field at intermediate splits. Day finished the first lap in 21:12, 33 seconds ahead of former Canadian champion Ryan Roth (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy). Roth had posted a strong result a week earlier at Philly, and was coming back from an early season knee injury; the question was, could he make up the difference in the second lap?
The answer proved to be a decisive no, as Day's final time of 42:30.45 was an impressive 1:14.89 ahead of Roth.
"I wasn't getting any updates, so I didn't really know where I was in relation to Ryan. I know he's a strong time trialler, so I certainly wasn't sure of the win. I had a crash a couple of weeks ago in California, so I hadn't really had a chance to test myself before this race either. A flat course like this is actually pretty hard, because there is absolutely nowhere to rest. All you can do is give it your best effort and hope that it's enough."
Roth was also satisfied with his effort and second place. "I had an injury earlier in the year at the Tour of Cuba, so last week [at Philly] was only my first race back. I was pretty pleased at how well it went over a 200 kilometre race. But a time trial is a different race; I know Ben Day is an excellent time trial rider, and this shows that I am getting my form back."
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