On Saint-Jean-Baptiste day, Véronique Fortin celebrated her first ever Canadian title on Friday night in Milton, ON, winning the women’s elite road race at the 2011 IMMUNITY-FX Canadian Road Championships powered by Canaccord Wealth Managent in front of over 1000 fans gathered on the course to cheer on Canada’s top women cyclists.
Fortin, 31, completed the 8 laps, 103-kilometre race in 3:04:09, to win her first major race since picking up the sport of cycling. With limited training time as an anaesthesiologist by profession, Fortin stayed in the peloton for the entire race, racing conservatively and patiently before making her attack in the last climb before the finish area.
“For me, this signifies a lot. Probably, this is what will allow me to do more cycling. This win is definitely the door that will allow me to do more. I was under the impression that I was less tired than the other girls, and I realized it on the last climb. I pushed a bit harder, and the break just happened naturally.”
Fortin, the reigning provincial champion, had the only goal this season to win this race.
“I really focused on this race. I knew I could do something special, and trained specifically for this course. I am very happy. I don’t think I realize it now. This race was very important for me, and I focussed all my all year for this race. My job does not allow me to do all the races that I would like to do. I planned all my training to be optimal here at the Canadian Road Championships.”
“I hired a coach to be able to focus more on cycling. I am able to train, even with my job. What is tough is the racing. This week, I worked 80 hours at the hospital, and didn’t believe I could win. Winning today is simply incredible.”
“For me, there is an important proverb. Before conquering the world, you have to be a champion in your own backyard,” concluded Fortin.
Pierre Hutsebaut, a Canadian cycling coach with an impressive pedigree, is thrilled with the performance of his athlete.
“She has some very natural physical capacities that I simply polished to attain our objective today, knowing it was possible for her to get the title. She’s an athlete who has tremendous potential, at the beginning of what she can do. Last year, she was only racing at the provincial level, and worked hard to get where she is today,” said Hutsebaut, who coached cycling legends such as Steve Bauer and Louis Garneau, as well as current cycling stars in David Veilleux and Guillaume Boivin, notably.
“She works really hard at the hospital, and it was a tough decision for her to dedicate more time to cycling, but it paid off today. She will now touch some international races. She is part of the short-term future of cycling,” added Hutsebaut, a former head coach of the Canadian Road Cycling Team.
Fortin is having a good year, winning the General classification at the Killington Stage Race in Vermont, USA.
Prior to arriving here for these IMMUNITY-FX Canadian Road Championships, Fortin came twice to the race course to train with her teammates. With excellent course recognition and a landscape that fitted her powerful style, Fortin powered her way of the category 4 climb and no one had anything left in them to counter-attack.
Lex Albrecht (Juvéderm-Specialized) finished second, crossing the line 18 seconds after Fortin, while Erinne Willock (TIBCO To The Top) placed third.
Amongst the U23 riders, Denise Ramsden (Juvéderm-Specialized) captured her second Canadian title in as many days, taking home the victory with a time of 3:04:29. Leah Kirchmann of Team Manitoba was second, while Elisabeth Albert (Rocky-Mountain-Desjardins-Valeurs-Mobilière) came third.
Solo Attack. The race started off with an immediate attack in the first lap, with Moriah MacGregor and Stephanie Roorda attacking. Midway through the race, Roorda left the attack to return to the peloton, leaving MacGregor all by herself to continue the attack. For five laps, it was all MacGregor at the front, leading the solo attack with gaps sometimes reaching five minutes. But within the last lap and an aggressive peloton led by Team TIBCO chasing, MacGregor’s run for the title was quickly killed.
The men’s road race will be held tomorrow at 4pm, on the same course used by the women. The men will race 14 laps of the 12.8 loop for a total distance of 180km.
Top 10 2011 IMMUNITY-FX Canadian Road Championships
1. FORTIN, Veronique (P-K EXPRESS/ HNZ STRATEGIC.COM) 3h 04′ 09″
2. ALBRECHT, Lex (JUVÉDERM-SPECIALIZED) +0:18
3. WILLOCK, Erinne (TEAM TIBCO/TO THE TOP) +0:20
4. RAMSDEN, Denise (JUVEDERM-SPECIALIZED) +0:20
5. NUMAINVILLE, Joelle (TEAM TIBCO/TO THE TOP) +0:20
6. CANUEL, Karol-ann (VIENNE-FUTUROSCOPE) +0:25
7. VOGLER, Nik (WEST WOOD CYCLE CANNONDALE) P/B +0:34
8. KIRCHMANN, Leah (TEAM MANITOBA) +0:36
9. SHAW, Rhae-christie (INDEPENDENT) +0:36
10. HUGHES, Clara (EQUIPE DU QUEBEC) +0:36