Posted by Editoress on 06/6/19
Leah Kirchmann, racing for Team Canada, won the Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau for the second time in three years on Thursday, holding off Rally UHC riders Allison Beveridge and Krista Doebel-Hickok on a long uphill sprint after 104 kilometres of racing.
The tenth edition of the race through the Gatineau national park, across the Ottawa River from the Canadian capital, took the field of 70 riders on a long winding climb to a two lap loop before they dropped back to a short finishing circuit for five laps.
Rally UHC and Team Canada were aggressive on the first major climb, splitting the field in half. Rally put all six of their riders in the lead group, while Team Canada had three. TIBCO-SVB had only one rider up front, and the rest of the team led the chase from the second group, but couldn't quite manage to close the gap.
On the finishing circuit, Rally UHC was aggressive with attacks, but it was pretty clear that the race would come down to a sprint. Kirchmann took the lead out of the final sweeping turn onto the finishing uphill, and held off Beveridge to win by a bike length.
Leah Kirchmann (Team Canada) wins
Podium: Allison Beveridge, Leah Kirchmann, Krista Doebel-Hickok
"It is a really hard finish," said Kirchmann, " you come off of the ramp and then it's a really long drag to the line. It's a really hard sprint. The first climb is the most difficult part of the race, and we wanted to ride that full gas and see how small a group we could get because it is easier to control and would increase our odds in the sprint. Our plan worked super well and my team mates controlled it well for me to set up the sprint. Rally was attacking hard in the last two laps, so we had our work cut out for us. It was really a drag race against Allison and I was happy to come out on top."
"I probably went a bit too early against someone like Leah," admitted Beveridge. "Leah's a pretty great sprinter internationally, so to come away with second behind her ... it was just a hard drag race and I just didn't quite have it. We tried to get some people away, but they were being marked, so we just saved me for the sprint."
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