August 16/01 10:39 am - Summer Games Road Race Story
Posted by Editor on 08/16/01
It was a day for silver to turn to gold, with both the men's and women's silver medalists from the Canada Summer Games time trials taking the road races titles. Jessica Hannah (BC) and Cameron McKnight (AB) proved that their time trial medals were no flukes by fighting off strong Quebec teams in wet conditions for their wins.
The race circuit was just over 20 kilometres in length, starting in London at Springbank Park (site of the Tuesday criteriums) and heading out into the nearby countryside. The women did 3.5 laps for 73 kilometres and the men 5 laps (103 kilometres). Each lap had two climbs - one after the other and within the first 5 kilometres of the lap. The riders then headed out to undulating countryside through the town of Lambeth before a downhill run back into the city and Springbank Park. For the women's race there was a slight sprinkling of rain, but the men spent most of the day in a downpour, which caused a few accidents in the corners.
For the first 40 kilometres of racing, the women rode at a steady tempo, with slower riders being shed on the climbs. The only real move was by Ontario's Melissa Lunstead, but she was quickly brought back by Quebec, BC and Alberta. This brought the front group down to approximately 25 riders when Hannah made her race-winning move. The Kamloops rider is new to bike racing (she only began in the spring at the BC Selection Trials), so she relied heavily on team mates for advice:
"My team mates were awesome. They were always helping me with position (in the pack) and telling me which wheels to follow. I could not have done it without them."
The winning move happened late in the second full lap, with 30 kilometres left to race. "I followed an Ontario rider and we got a gap. There was a bit of a climb before we descended and I dropped her there. She was trying to work with me but couldn't stay on, so I just kept going. When I got out there I just thought 'time trial'."
Hannah's efforts were enough to bring her across the finish line a minute clear of a disintegrating chase group of 9, with Carrie Tuck (AB) outkicking Lisa Sweeney (BC) and Raphaele Lemieux (QC) at the line for the silver medal.
The men's race started in rain and ended in rain, but that did not dampen the aggression of the 65 starters. Paul Tichelaar (AB), Will Routley (BC), Mathieu Beliveau (QC) and Rod Smit (ON) broke away on the second lap and managed to gain almost 50 seconds on the field by the start of the third lap. A chase group animated by Charlie Gorman (ON) tried to bridge up, but was brought back.
The gap was enough, Quebec decided. "We wanted to bridge up, so me and my team mates attacked on the first, steeper climb." explained Martin Gilbert. Gilbert, Pierre-Olivier Boily and Francois Parisien were well on their way to catching the leaders when Parisien went down in a corner. Meanwhile, behind, Alberta was not ready to let Quebec dictate the race and Marc Bomhof and Cameron McKnight led a group of 6 up to the chasers (minus Parisien). The others in the group were Ian Condron (BC), Murray Carter (MB), Peter Sanowar (ON) and Leith McLeod (MB). This combined group joined the frontrunners on the third lap, making 12 at the front. With 3 Alberta, 3 Quebec, 2 Ontario, 2 BC and 2 Manitoba riders, there was no incentive for the remainder of the field to chase, and they soon dropped right out of contention.
Through the fourth lap the group worked together smoothly, but on the final lap the attacks started on the climbs, and the group was gradually whittled down. The final attack was initiated by McKnight in almost the same spot as Hannah in the women's race.
"Coming down the backstretch I attacked and got a gap. Martin came across and we started working well together."
The money was on Gilbert to take it if there was a sprint, given his victory in the Points Criterium on Tuesday. However, Gilbert was in difficulty with cramping: "The last lap I was always borderline. Cameron was in front and then at 250 (metres to go) I go and we start to sprint. Then, suddenly my legs go bad and he passed me in the final 50 metres. It was a good hard race, but just at the end I cramped and couldn't sprint."
McKnight agreed: "At 1 kilometre (to go) I was leading and Martin wouldn't come by. We both started at about the same time (to sprint), he got a little ahead and then I came by at 50 metres. To get the win is awesome, because all the riders in the break were so strong."