Posted by Editoress on 06/26/11
Svein Tuft led a sweep of the podium at the Elite Men's Canadian National Road Championships on Saturday by the SpiderTech team. Tuft, who had won his seventh national time trial championship on Thursday, won his first road title. He and his team mates took the top three spots in the 180 kilometre race, with Will Routley finishing second, and Zach Bell third. All three riders finished with the same time of four hours, 32 minutes and nine seconds. Routley and Bell had been in a breakaway move for most of the race, and Tuft bridged up to them on the final lap of the event. The three crossed the line together.
With 14 riders in the race, this was SpiderTech's to lose, however, it was definitiely on the minds of the team that last year they had lost the title to Willy Routley (on Jelly Belly at the time) in a sprint. The presence of top riders such as Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare), Dominique Rollin (FDJ), David Veilleux (Europcar) and Rob Britton (Bissell) meant that victory was not assured for Steve Bauer's squad - particularly with the finish at the top of a hard, steep climb up the Niagara Escarpment, where one good set of climbing legs could negate all the strategizing of the team.
SpiderTech took immediate control of the race on the first lap [of 14], with at least one team member in every attempt to get away. The first break to get any distance contained six riders, and went on the climb at the end of lap two. In the break were Marsh Cooper (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Optumhealth), Ed Veal (Jet Fuel Coffee/La Bicicletta), Aaron Schooler (Team H&R Block), Hugo Houle * (Team Spidertech powered by C10), Zachery Garland (Team H&R Block), David Boily * (Team Spidertech powered by C10) [* denotes U23 rider).
This group did not have the right mix for SpiderTech and was brought back at the end of the lap, when what would prove to be the critical break went clear - Routley, Bell and Lacombe from SpiderTech and Rob Britton. This was acceptable to SpiderTech, and they allowed it to go, while chasing down and sitting on anyone who tried to jump across. By the end of the lap the gap was up to one minute.
The peloton was steadily shrinking, as riders came off the back in handfuls every time up the Rattlesnake climb. Things settled down at this point as the race entered its midpoint, with the break working well nearly two minutes up the road and SpiderTech monitoring things in the peloton. Meier and Veilleux pushed hard on the climb each lap, but that only served to thin the ranks at the back. Rollin had a brief scare when the top tube broke on his bike and he had to get a neutral support bike, but he rejoined after a very fast 90 kmph-plus descent.
Up front, Britton was doing a lot of work, leading through the climb almost every time, and into the headwind sections. With four laps remaining, the effective members of the race were down to just over 20, including the four riders at the front. Nine of those riders were from SpiderTech... The remaining non-SpiderTech riders in the chase had finally made an alliance, and were rolling through steadily at the front of the group, but not making any headway.
At three laps remaining, SpiderTech made their next move, with Tuft attacking the chase group. Veilleux had been dropped over the top of the climb and Rollin had just dropped out of the race, so it was a prospicious moment. He quickly took 30 seconds, and kept pulling away, despite Veilleux going straight to the front once he rejoined the group.
Tuft joined the leaders before the end of the lap, and this changed the dynamics tremendously at the front - before, Britton had only one serious threat on the climb, Routley, now he was in more serious trouble. And that proved to be the outcome as the leaders hit the climb at the end of lap 12 - Lacombe was dropped and the Bell-Routley tandem attacked along the rolling top section.
Tuft sat on Britton's wheel for most of the lap, while the pair up front stretched their lead to 30 seconds-plus, and then he attacked over the top of the climb just before the start of the final lap. At this point, it was a forgone conclusion that it would be SpiderTech 1-2-3, the only question was in what order? Tuft joined the other two at the base of the climb, and the trio crested the top together, with Tuft rolling in just ahead of his two team mates. Hugo Houle gave SpiderTech another national title by winning the U23 award from the chase group, just ahead of Arnaud Papillon (Equipe de Quebec), with Jamie Riggs (Team Ontario) third.
Tuft said his team mates made the national title a gift to him. "These guys gave me a tremendous gift. We have been working together for a number of years, and they gave it to me and I can't thank them enough. This is something for my career I thought would be amazing to pull off, and now it happened. It's an amazing feeling. We came out here today to be aggressive and control the race, and that's what we did. I owe this all to my team mates."
Bauer, team director for SpiderTech, was thrilled with the performance of his riders, commenting: "There are a lot of good riders out there with Rollin, Veilleux, Meier, Britton. We had a strong team, with the numbers and we had to make sure it was decisive. The plan was to go from the gun, go hard, and make our counterparts work hard. Everyone tried hard, and our guys were too strong."
"Tuft was our number 1 guy. Even though Svein has been riding so strong, he still had to get to the finish line. He had to leave behind a strong chase group. It could have been Parisien or Lacombe, but on this day it was Svein. He had to get there first. He's our Canadian icon, he's our leader and there is no reason he shouldn't be Canadian Road Champion."
"Our biggest challenge was for everyone not to race selfishly. We had certainly the strength and horsepower. You don't want guys racing against each other early on and risk a thing. We needed to have an unselfish team to make it a decisive win."
Note - We have interviews with Tuft, Bell, Routley, Britton and Steve Bauer to follow.
We want to extend a huge thank-you to Marc Trudeau who stepped in as the moto driver for the road races. Great job!!!
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