Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, QC took the top honours of the time trial race at the 2011 Chrono Gatineau on Thursday, winning the solo time trials by stopping the clock at 23:49.17. And the win, she did not only dedicate to Canada, but also to Daron Richardson, a young girl from Ottawa who tragically died last year.
The victory in Thursday’s race is her fourth consecutive win. Since her return to the sport of road cycling, Hughes won the general classification and the time trials at the Tour of the Gila, as well as both the road race and the time trials at the UCI Pan-American Championships.
Racing for the first time on Canadians soil since retiring her skates, Hughes left the start gate as the last rider of the day and rode the 17.35 kilometre course in the streets of Gatineau, Quebec in a winning time of 23m 49.17 seconds, despite crashing on the wet pavement of a roundabout.
“I am really happy to have raced for the first time in Canada, although it was a bit more dramatic than I would have liked. It was a technical course and it just shows I have a lot of work to do to remember how to ride in the different conditions road racing and time trialing can offer. There is no control over the weather and today was the first time I can remember preparing to do a time trial in the rain. I was nervous in the morning thinking ‘I just hope I don’t crash’ and there I was, half way through the race, on the only part of the course where there were spectators with my bike sliding out from under me on the slick paint of the turnaround arrow,” said Hughes after the race.
“The fall was completely my fault because I took the turn too fast. I had to laugh at myself when I went down thinking that my husband Peter, who rarely sees me race, was likely on that corner watching me fall. I heard the crowd shudder and then cheer for me as I got going again. I kept saying to myself ‘you can’t lose this race like this’ and it really motivated me to go hard again and push through the effort of the last lap,” continued Hughes.
“Despite a crash mid-course, Clara once again raced well. While taking a tight corner halfway through the race, she was going a bit too fast and the pavement was wet. It’s part of the learning curve. She proves once more that her return was well prepared, and that is she is focussed to reach the top,” said Vincent Jourdain, Head Coach of the Canadian Road Cycling Team.
“It was a learning process and I am just so happy with this victory as it shows I am improving, but also that I have a lot of work to do. It was a fantastic course and a wonderful racing atmosphere I was honoured to be a part of. To win another race in the National team jersey was also very satisfying because the support of the National Team has been fantastic. We are learning how to work together well and this is all part of the process”, explained Hughes.
A Victory Dedicated To Daron
Clara Hughes not only raced for Canada today, she also raced for Daron Richardson, a young girl from Ottawa whose life ended tragically last year. Today, Hughes raced with a purple bracelet with the letters D.I.F.D. – Do It For Daron – which is the campaign to raise awareness and break down the stigma related to mental illness in young people.
“I wanted to win today in memory of Daron and in support of her family and dedicate this victory to her. I was really inspired me to keep going and put the crash behind me.”
In second place came Ganna Solovey of the Ukrainian national team, trailing Hughes by 10.74 seconds, and in third place was Amber Neben of the HTC Highroad cycling team, 13.68 seconds off Hughes’ time.
Hughes defeated, for the second time in as many race, the 2008 time trials World Champion Amber Neben of the United States. She was also faster than 13-time World Champion, 4-time Olympic medalist and 7-time Olympian Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli of France.
Wearing the National Team uniform, Annie Ewart of Victoria, BC finished 28th, while Julie Garnet of Saskatoon, SK placed 33rd.
Julie Beveridge of Team Vienne Futuroscope in fifth place and Denise Ramsden of Team Juvederm-Specialized in seventh.
The elite racing component of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau will continue on Saturday with the mass start Road Race.
Results – Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau – Time Trials
1. HUGHES Clara (CAN) Canada National Team 23:49.17
2. SOLOVEY Ganna (UKR) Ukraine National Team 23:59.91 +10.74
3. NEBEN Amber (USA) HTC-Highroad 24:02.85 +13.68
4. LONGO-CIPRELLI Jeannie (FRA) France National Team 4:39.02 +49.85
5. BEVERIDGE Julie (CAN) Vienne Futuroscope 25:00.98 +1:11.81
6. SCHLATTER Sue (CAN) Stevens Pro Team 25:04.78 +1:15.61
7. RAMSDEN Denise (CAN) Juvederm-Specialized 25:14.17 +1:25.00
8. LOGAN Heather (CAN) Colavita Forno D’Aso 25:19.88 +1:30.71
9. KALITOVSKA Lesla (UKR) Ukraine National Team 25:24.66 +1:35.49
10. PITEL Edwige (FRA) Vienne-Futuroscope 25:28.09 +1:38.92