Only one rider on Team Canada p/b Spidertech has raced repeatedly at ProTour events or against ProTour teams, Dominique Rollin of the Pro Continental squad Cervelo Testteam, and he is optimistic about the chances of the team in the two races coming up on home soil.
“We have 2 or 3 riders that can finish well, we know the finish, there’s a good chance we can do something.” Rollin said Thursday afternoon.
“We’re going to see a level that not many of us have raced before, I think only Rollin. Now we’ll learn how we compare, it’s going to be interesting.” David Veilleux said. “A good experience.”
What did Rollin tell them about racing at the ProTour level? “Often at the ProTour, a break will go early and then the pace is slow, something you don’t see very often in North America. Where you do a lap at 20 km/h, just turning the legs, thinking you’re stopped. It’s tough mentally to have that break.” he explained.
And then it starts. Rollin continued, “All of a sudden, a team will start to chase, and it starts, the pace will increase, race pace, infernal pace, intolerable pace. And that’s exactly where you have to be able to go from stopped to race speed. When you’re not used to that, it breaks your legs, or you get lethargic, you don’t know what is going on. When the speed increases, it hurts. It’s a bit like that, it’s something that they guys here don’t see very often.”
Steve Bauer, DS of Team Canada p/b Spidertech, would not be pinned down on prognosticating results for his team, as far as placings, but he was also optimistic. “I’m totally expecting that the riders will ride their best, they’re in shape. I really think that some of these guys will be in the game, they’ll perform well, they’ll be in the final, they’ll be competitive. As far as predicting numbers, I don’t know but I think we’ll have some good races.”
“I hope we can do something. I think a top 10 in one of the two races would really be an extraordinary result. I think that we have guys that are capable of doing that, you have to be confident and go for it.” 21-year old Guillaume Boivin said. Boivin won two stages at the Mi-Août en Bretagne, a UCI 2.2 stage race in France a two weeks ago. Spidertech sent a full squad to Europe to get ready for these races.
Bauer admits that he and the Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) have been thinking about the race for over a year.
“It’s been a long time in approaching these events that our focus has been marked on September 10 and 12. Our athletes are well prepared, they’ve done their homework. We’re certainly looking forward to a great competition, we realize these bike races have venues extraordinary in the world, very historic, unique, tough, expressive in the sporting sense of the word and I believe our athletes to take on the challenge.”
To be able to challenge the ProTour and Pro Continental teams at home, on tough courses, a 12-rider team was created for the two events, the Grand Prix ProTour Quebec and Montreal.
Joining Rollin, Boivin and Veilleux on the team are Ryan Anderson, David Boily, Rob Britton, Charles Dionne, Martin Gilbert, Keven Lacombe, Bruno Langlois, François Parisien and Will Routley. Some riders will participate in the two events and some in only one, while Gilbert will sit out the races due to a knee injury sustained in Europe.
The selection of the team was not an easy task for Bauer, DS of the trade team Spidertech p/b Planet Energy.
“It was challenging.” he mused. “We needed to create a balance of opportunities. You could pick other riders that aren’t on the list that are really strong. In all honesty, to be a little bit clear, it made a little bit easier that 3 Spidertech riders were on the injured list, Ryan Roth, Martin Gilbert and Andrew Randell, all solid team guys that could fit on the roster. To be honest, that helped selection so it took a little bit of political pressure off myself form the Spidertech side of things.”
7 riders out of the 12, Boily, Boivin, Gilbert, Lacombe, Langlois and Parisien, are from the Spidertech trade team. Bauer continued, “That being said, the Spidertech guys on this roster have proven that they deserved to be there, have won recently bike races in France and have done exceptional rides as a team and individually, no doubt on my mind that the boys doing the races now deserve to be there.
Five come from American trade teams, Anderson and Veilleux from Kelly Benefit Strategies, Britton from BISSELL, Routley from Jelly Belly p/b Kenda with Dionne from the Australian team Fly V Australia.
“It’s my job as directeur to bring our guys together to perform at their maximum as a group and I feel we’re ready to do that and we’re really excited about the next coming races.” Having riders coming in from different teams can lead to cohesion difficulty with everyone wanting to do well, Bauer admitted. “It won’t be perfect, we’ll do our best to have the guys collaborate. In essence, it is what it is.”
“We’re lucky to have riders from the same team which means that they’ll work together in unity. So we won’t have the challenge of a normal national team where everyone comes from everywhere and anywhere and we try to build a team atmosphere in two days.” Rollin said about the team.
One thing that helps is that many of the riders have raced together in the past, if not on the same team currently. “I know all the other riders well, I raced often with them. We’ve been together for two or three days, we’re going to try to help each other get the best results that we can.” Veilleux said.
Another is the knowledge of the circuits. “We know what to expect, we know how to get ready. After that, the guys raced the course at the Tour de Beauce and know what can happen in the race, so they already are thinking about scenarios.” Rollin said.
Quebec vs Montreal. The two courses are tough but offer different difficulties to the riders. Bauer explained, “Quebec is a test from start to finish, there’s not hiding, there’s no relaxation. Montreal, there’s time, there’s time to sit and watch and follow the peloton. In Quebec, there’s no place for that, you have from the front the whole day. Race comfortable, smart and technically well and save energy as much as you can even though it’s more difficult.”
Bauer would know having raced on both circuits in previous events, and winning in Montreal.
Parisien compared one of the effort per lap on each race, to be about a 5-minute. “In Montreal as soon as you do the u-turn on Park Avenue and go all the way up to Mont Royal, it’s pretty much 5 to 6 minutes. And here as soon as you turn left on côte de la Montagme and you pass the line, total is 5 minutes. The difference is that in Montreal you don’t go down, here you punch up, you go down, you punch up you go down, there’s three punch so they’re 3 sections where you can recover but they’re really short.”
For Rollin, the Quebec circuit suits the team. “Quebec is a technical circuit, North American Style, we won’t have any problems with that difficulty which can alienate the Europeans who are going to have trouble getting used to the change of rhythm.”
No team captain needed for the race on Saturday. “I find if the guys are riding well and are riding in the front, the race itself will naturally dictate who is riding well. The most important thing is that we can have collaboration from best of those guys in the last lap, that’s where the element of strategy will come to play. If there’s a split in the peloton halfway because of natural selection, or the natural evolution of the race then the guys that are good, that are in front will be there, the guys that aren’t won’t be there, it’s as simple as that, there’s no secret.”
Given the terrain, Veilleux is on the roster for the Quebec race only. “Climbs are steeper but shorter in Quebec which is better for me. In Montreal, pure climbers can hit it and drop us more easily on the longer Camilien Houde climb.” His preparation also included racing in Europe followed by a stint at the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont where he won a stage. “The preparation is there, I’m going to do the best I can. Dionne and Boily will also participate only the Quebec race.
Parisien is expecting an aggressive race in Quebec. “You definitely need to be at the front a little bit more in Quebec, it’s going to be very aggressive, a lot of movement. it’s going to be really interesting. I don’t think it’s going to be the type of World Championship where you have to wait until the last two laps to see the race evolve. First of all it’s 200k, it’s fairly a short race for these guys, I think it’s going to be pretty aggressive especially if it rains. The cooler it is, the more aggressive it’s going to be.”
Montreal course is less technical, with two tough climbs. “Montreal suits certain riders a little bit better depending how well they are racing in Quebec and how well it evolves in the race in Montreal.” said Bauer about the course and naming a team captain. “It can be more a last lap race, potentially last lap race where you can sit and wait.”
Both Britton and Anderson will only be racing in Montreal.
“I think it will be important to get a good ride tomorrow and Saturday as well. It will be a bit easier for he other guys to use Saturday as a couple of hours nice and easy.” said Britton about the next few days. Their goal is to keep the legs open. One way they did that was by participating in the Sprint Challenge on Thursday late afternoon.
“It will be a hard race in Sunday it’s short, it’s 190k, it’s not 240 k race. We were doing back to back stages in California that were over 190k. It’s going to be guns blazing from the start, having your nervous system be ready is very important.” Britton said.
Pressure. Racing on home soil, in front of family and friends could bring extra pressure but all see it as a positive thing.
“The pressure is there, the opportunity to race in Canada is extremely rare, and especially to race at this level. This is only the third race I’ve done in Canada this year. The pressure is there but it’s more of an honor.” Britton explained.
“I think the pressure is there but I feel that it’s a good pressure at this point. Being able to do races like California where the majority of bigger names and already raced against them makes me a little bit more comfortable going into Sunday.” Anderson agreed. “I haven’t done a ton of one-day races this year, but I’m excited.”
There’s also the extra pressure for some of the contract hunt, but Rollin, who is talking to “a number of teams” is not feeling it. “I don’t put any pressure on myself so I’m not feeling. I see it more as a certain interest that wasn’t there and I think it’s great to see. I think of this pressure as a positive thing, I want to perform, not just for myself but to show that not only are we able to have beautiful races but also results.”
Everybody is ready for the challenge. For some the preparation included racing in Europe. For others such as Canadian Road Champion Routley, it was returning home and focusing on long, hard rides with 2-3 minute power surges over short, steep hills. “My whole goal, not just working on the mental side of things, my whole goal has been to go out there and make those key workouts as hard or even harder than racing.” he said last week. (Read full interview).
“The opportunity for surprise is there, there’s no question, these riders are good.” Bauer said.