Canadian Elite cyclists, both men and women, are gathered in St-Georges, Beauce, Quebec for the Canadian Road Cycling Championships which will be held over the next three days, June 26 to June 28. Note that the National Titles for the other categories such as juniors, masters and paracyclists will be awarded the following weekend.
Several champions are returning to defend their titles such as Svein Tuft (Garmin-Slipstream), seventh at the Olympic Games and second at the world championships in the time trials last year, and his ‘biking brother’ and teammate Chris Meier the reigning men’s elite road race champion. In the women’s elite competition, the field is wide open as neither Anne Samplonius nor Alex Wrubleski (Columbia-High Road) will be present to defend their titles. The U23 double champions, Julie Beveridge (TIBCO) and David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) are also returning to defend their TT and Road titles. Also, 2006 Road Champ Dominique Rollin (Cervelo TestTeam) will not be racing as he is still suffering from mononucleosis.
On Friday, June 26 is the men’s and women’s elite and U23 individual time trials. Starting at 10am, the U23 and Elite Women will race on a 20km out and back course, using the same roads as the just-held Tour de Beauce. In the afternoon, starting at 1pm, the U23 and Elite Men will race a 40km course, with the same start and finish but with an added climb before the turnaround. (See google map)
The man to beat is Tuft, but his form is unknown after his crash earlier this year. Other riders to watch include Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Cam Evans (OUCH-Maxxis). In the women’s Elite TT, riders to watch include Tara Whitten, a double silver medalist at the world track championships and the Tour of PEI champion this year and Olympian Erinne Willock (Webcor).
In the U23 men’s race, Veilleux’s form is also unclear as he is just returning to racing after a broken collarbone. His Kelly Benefit Strategies teammate Ryan Anderson is another one to watch along with Mathew Bell and Cody Campbell (Trek-Livestrong U23). Riders to watch in the U23 women’s TT race include Karol-Ann Canuel along with Beveridge.
The next two days bring the road races all done on the same 45-km course where the first half is going upfill and the second half is all downhill. A few riders have complained that the race is not hard enough so it should be interesting. Saturday is the 135-km, or 3-lap, U23 and Elite Women’s road race where both categories race together. Sunday is the men’s 180-km or 4-lap road race. (See Google Map).
In the women’s race, riders to watch include Joelle Numainville, Jenny Trew, Willock and her Webcor teammate Gina Grain.
The men’s race should be quite interesting with the only Canadian UCI team, Planet Energy, taking on the rest of the Canadian riders dispersed across trade teams. Steve Bauer’s team is looking to bring the Maple Leaf jerseys back and can play multiple cards including Ryan Roth, Andrew Randell and François Parisien. Meier can only count on Tuft for help in trying to defend his title. The American Kelly Benefit Strategies team is also interesting to watch as it is fielding 4 strong riders, Bell, Veilleux, Anderson and Jake Erker – who will they be riding for? Other riders to watch include Evans and his teammate Andrew Pinfold, Charles Dionne (Fly V Australia), Will Routley (Jelly Belly) and Derrick St. John who looked strong at the Tour de Beauce.
On a final note, it’s sad not seeing the Symmetrics team on the roster.