Joelle Numainville of Team TIBCO/To the Top narrowly missed out on repeating as champion of the Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau on Saturday, losing a close sprint to World Champion Georgia Bronzini (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo).
“The girls rode incredibly well,” said Team Directeur Sportif Lisa Hunt. “It was a hard race, and Joelle was a marked rider from the start. The other teams also put pressure on us to do a lot of the work during the race.
Canadian Erinne Willock of Team TIBCO did her best to take some of that pressure off, inserting herself in what would be the main break of the day.
“Colavita had two riders up there, including Theresa Cliff-Ryan, so Willock sat on the break. But with Cliff-Ryan up there, it wasn’t an ideal situation for Team TIBCO. The break stayed out front from lap three to lap eight of 11, before the race was back together. One other solo move was neutralized by the end of lap 10.
“We weren’t too worried about the solo move,” Hunt said. “When things came back together for the last lap, our goal was to keep it together and then set up Joelle for the sprint. The Team did a fantastic job of putting Joelle in position late on the last lap going into the sprint.”
The plan was to put Joelle in second position coming out of the final turn so she could open up her sprint a bit early. “She can hold a long sprint,” Hunt added.
Which is exactly what they did. Numainville found herself on Bronzini’s wheel coming out of the final turn. On the finishing straight, Numainville made her move to come around the World Champion, but Bronzini drifted a bit into Numainville’s line.
“She had to let off the gas just a little bit to keep from going into the barriers,” Hunt said.
The hesitation was just enough to keep the Canadian National Champion from the top step on the podium.
“It was a hard race,” Hunt said. “I’m pleased with how everyone rode. Joelle has great form right now and she’s sprinting really well. I’m confident she can have a good Liberty Classic in two weeks, and podium or even win it.”
Whitten 6th in the inaugural Tour of California Women’s International Time Trial Challenge
Canadian Tara Whitten was one of only 13 riders invited to contest the inaugural Tour of California Women’s International Time Trial Challenge on Friday. Despite coming off a long break following her repeat win at the Track World Championships and having only three weeks of training to build toward the event, Whitten took a solid 6th place. The 2010 Commonwealth Games time trail champion finished less than a minute behind former World time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong, on the same course the men racing the Amgen Tour of California raced later in the day.
“Tara had a great ride,” said Team TIBCO Founder and Director Linda Jackson, who was on hand in Solvang for the TT. “She had a month off after winning Worlds, and has only been back on the bike for a few weeks. To be within a minute of Armstrong with that little training, and only having her Specialized Shiv for a couple of weeks is a phenomenal result. Yesterday’s result showed that she can be among the top time trialers in the world.”