Posted by Editoress on 03/12/04
It was Canada Day in the opening time trial stage of the first Norba National Series race of the season, in Waco, Texas. Canadians finished 1-2 in both the pro men's and pro women's 5 kilometre stage, and took 6 of the top-10 places in the men's field, and four of the top-10 in the women's. In fact, all ten Canadian men finished in the top-20, and all five Canadian women in the top-15.
The course was a twisty, narrow up and down loop, with long sections of singletrack through scrub brush. Concentration was important, since any momentary lapse of attention could lead to taking a bad line or ending up in the bush. The race is being held in Cameron Park, right in the city of Waco.
Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) won the women's race with a time of 14:23, three seconds ahead of Kiara Bisaro (GearsRacing.com), with Alison Dunlap (Luna) a further 10 seconds back, riding her first mountain bike race since a bad crash ended her season last June with a shoulder injury. Sydor was more than a little surprised with her win.
"It was a little unexpected to win here - I'm in good shape, but surprised to win. I've had good training this winter, but I got sick for a while, and have had a heck of a time getting back in the groove. But this is a very good course for us Canadians, it's a bike handler's course.
The first climb I went at a good pace, but not 100%, and then on the second climb I went all out to the finish. It's a great way to start the season off with a win, and now I've have three wins in three races with Rocky - I feel fast in the red and white!"
Seamus McGrath (Haro) was two minutes faster than Sydor, and Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher) was exactly the same margin behind as Bisaro - three seconds. Hesjedal's British team mate Liam Killeen was third, a further 9 seconds in arrears.
McGrath didn't follow the same tactic as Sydor: "I did the opposite, I hammered the whole time. It's only just over twelve minutes, so you have to go as hard as you can go in every section - just give 'er.
I always go good in the these short, early season time trials, so I was expecting to do well. I rode a pretty clean race, with no problems, and the course was awesome, just like the trails back home in Millgrove (Ontario). It's always good to start the season with a win."
The race continues tomorrow with the short track and concludes Sunday with the cross-country.
- There was some confusion in the U23 category, with Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) and Liam Killeen riding in the pro men's field, but other U23's such as Kris Sneddon (Kona) starting separately. In the final results, some U23's were listed in a separate category (Sneddon finished third). Normally, at the World Cup and other races, the U23's start with the elites, and the results are all listed together, with an asterick to identify the U23's. No word yet on what the plan is for the rest of the weekend.
- Max Plaxton had a stellar ride, with fifth place in the elite category. He might have been even faster if he hadn't wacked his head on a low branch. "I was a little shaken up for a while; it took me a moment to get myself sorted out again."
- Chrissy Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher) is in her first race since the crash at Worlds last fall, where she broke her wrist quite badly. After a winter of operations, physio and training, she was anxious to try her form, finishing sixth. "I've been wearing a brace until a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still taping it. I guess I'm a little rusty out there, I didn't know where I would be. It is a lot better, but I know it will be sore tonight. The flu last week set me back a bit, but I had really good, solid training in January and February."
- We had a chance to talk with Ryder Hesjedal, about his program for the spring, as he splits his time between Subaru-Gary Fisher and US Postal. Originally he was supposed to go to Europe for February and then back to North America for March, but the plans changed.
"I was going really good at the (US Postal) training camp, but because my focus is 100% Olympics, we talked it over (he, the teams and coaches), and decided that I just needed to take some time off (in February). The goal is to build up for the important races (ie, World Cups), and we need the program to be right. I don't need another silver medal (a reference to his three silver Worlds medals).
The training was better at home, so I didn't need to go over, come back and go over again. I'll be heading over March 24th now, and I'm supposed to do the three Days of De Panne. When I'm there, it will be whenever the team calls; if I can contribute I will. It looks like I will be based in Spain, getting ready for the World Cup, in between (races).
Right now, I feel like I made a lot of progress this winter - I'm in the best shape of my life at this point. Today was 1-2 for the Rockpile (his and McGrath's training group in Victoria), so I'm pretty happy."
- Waco offers many attractions, including the Dr Pepper Museum (Waco is the "Home of Dr Pepper" - Are You a Pepper?) and the Texas Rangers Museum. They are also some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. One race marshal strode over to shake my hand and say "thank you for coming to our race." That has never, ever happened (to me) at any race...
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