July 14/00 10:51 am - Nationals ITT Story and Photos
Posted by Editor on 07/14/00
Hughes and Wohlberg Defend Titles
Organizational problems marred what would have otherwise been an extremely exciting time trial at the Canadian Road Nationals yesterday. Clara Hughes (Saturn), the defending national champion in the time trial, and young sensation Genevieve Jeanson (Medico Sportif) were expected to put on quite a battle for the women's title, as they compete for Olympic selection, and they did, finishing a mere 6 seconds apart. However, Hughes' victory was tainted when poor course marshalling caused her to go off course in the final kilometre.
"I came to the turn, and there was a truck in the road, and they (marshalls) directed me to the other side of the barricades. But I know I had a good time" said Hughes moments after finishing. Hughes wasn't the only one to be sent of course - the men's winner, Eric Wohlberg (Shaklee), had similar problems but managed to get back on the course after losing valuable time.
After the race, both victors had praise for the course itself. "It was a perfect course", said Wohlberg, having won his 5th consecutive title. "There was no wind, the rolling hills made it hard and the new pavement made it fast." There was no debate about his victory over Andrew Randell (Jet Fuel) - Wohlberg won by over 2 minutes. When asked if there was some extra determination to post a good time after Canada didn't qualify for the Olympics in this event, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist shook his head. "I go into every race to win, otherwise there is no reason to race. The only preparation I made differently was to make sure a credit card would fit..." This in reference to his troubles at the U.S. Time Trial Trials, when he posted the fastest time and was then disqualified for not having enough space between his rear tire and frame.
After the women's race, sentiment was with the well-liked Hughes. "She won, no matter what", said another team's manager, "we all know it." Maybe so, but Jeanson's controversial coach, Andre Aubut, filed a protest, pointing out that Hughes had not crossed the finish line. It was a tense time, as officials consulted rulebooks, and then actually went out to measure the offending portion of the course - the final kilometre.
Both riders had a tight lipped look as they waited for the outcome; a sharp contrast to their reactions as they crossed the line. "I could not have ridden any faster", said Jeanson, "it was my best possible time and I am very happy with my result."
Clara Hughes spoke in a similar vein. "It was just about perfect. This was my best time trial since Atlanta (Olympics, where she won the bronze medal)."
As the presentations began, still no one knew - who would be the champion? Third place finisher Leah Goldstein (800.com) took the podium, and then ... Jeanson was called - the protest had been turned down. Jeanson looked shocked and upset, and hesitated to go up to the podium, but eventually stepped forward.
Afterwards, officials said that Hughes had actually covered a longer distance, and into oncoming traffic. "There was no advantage", said one. That is true, but it is a poor start to the championships.
Complete results for all categories can be found in an earlier posting.
Officials measure Eric Wohlberg's bike