Posted by Editoress on 05/20/17
Lauren Stephens (Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank) held off two world champions to win the Chrono Gatineau UCI time trial on Friday in Gatineau, Quebec. Stephens, who finished fourth last year, finished 3.64 seconds ahead of Karol-Ann Canuel (Team Canada), a member of the world champions Boels-Dolmans world champion team time trial squad and 11.15 seconds in front of Amber Neben (VeloConcept), the reigning individual time trial champion. Canada put five riders in the top-10.
"I did this race last year, and [the course] was very similar," explained Stephens. "The course is uphill mostly on the way out then downhill on the way back. So it is just managing your effort on the way out, knowing that it is going to be very fast on the way back. I was really focussed on winning this race. Last year I finished fourth by just 17 seconds, so the whole time I was thinking this is your race to win. I had a good feeling when I crossed the line, but the world champion, Amber Neben, went off last, so you never know what she can pull off. So I didn't know until she crossed the line. This is definitely a highlight to my season so far. Our team founder Linda Jackson is from Canada, so to win a race in Canada is great and this is the biggest race I've won this year."
The 21 kilometre out-and-back course climbs up into the Gatineau national park for the first half before the riders turn around for a long and fast descent back to the finish. Race day was sunny but windy.
Jasmin Duehring (Sho-Air TWENTY20) set the first fast time of 31:05, 11 riders in from the 49 starters. Her time held up until eight riders to go, when Claire Rose (Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling) became the first to go under 31 minutes (30:57). Two riders later, Leah Thomas (Sho-Air TWENTY20) knocked over six seconds off the leading time, but Canuel was right behind her, and took the top time down to 30:23. Canuel, in turn, was immediately supplanted on the Hot Seat by Stephens, with the final winning time of 3:20. There were still three riders to go, with Neben riding last, but none could come close to the TIBCO rider's time.
"It was really a hard course," commented Canuel. "It was really hilly and also windy, It was hard to get your effort at first, but I'm happy with my ride. I finished second, and for sure I wanted to win, but three seconds is nothing. I didn't know where I would fit today, I haven't really worked on my time trial at all this year, I've been focussing on the classics, more on the road racing, so it would good to get an effort out there. I'm happy with my ride."
"So I'm racing tomorrow and then will take a little break to start prepping for Nationals and then the Giro in July. Last year the Giro was my favourite race. We won the pink jersey, but it was also a fun race to do and really hard. I hope this year it is going to be the same."
Neben, racing in the rainbow stripes, was philosophical about her third place, "I was excited to come back here. It's always fun to come back and defend any time you've won a race and for me to be able to wear the rainbow stripes, I want to do that as much as I can this year. Obviously, I was hoping to win but Lauren and Karol-Ann rode really well. So I will grow and learn from it and get ready for the next big peak at [U.S.] Nationals. I'm six weeks out from my next peak. I worked really hard last weekend, so I didn't feel bad, but I was a little flat. I made a couple mistakes. I'm always critiquing myself for places I can get better. So it wasn't bad, but not my best."
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