Team TIBCO/To the Top has signed recently crowned Canadian National Road Race Champion Véronique Fortin for the 2012 season. The 31-year-old is one of the rising stars of Canadian cycling, taking the title barely more than four years into a racing career that began in earnest, and stayed limited while she finished her studies as an anesthesiologist.
“Véro is an incredible talent who has been successful in whatever sport she’s competed,” said Team TIBCO Founder and Manager Linda Jackson.
Those sports include triathlon, as well as cross country running, in which she finished 9th in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in a deep and talented field.
She began racing a bike in 2008, contesting mostly provincial races without any specific training until this year.
“Because I was doing my residency, I didn’t have much time,” Fortin said.
In 2009 and 2010, when she finished her studies, she raced half seasons, which only amounted to five to seven race days. She still succeeded in winning a provincial championship in 2010, plus she was a constant presence on podiums in the elite races she contested in 2010.
This year, with a bit more time and a new coach, she began to show her burgeoning talent by winning the Killington Stage Race in May. But she maintained a selective race programme, given that she is also a full-time anesthesiologist.
For that reason, she focused almost entirely on the Canadian National Road Race, knowing that the course, with its eight trips up the Niagara Escarpment in Milton, Ontario, suited her climbing abilities quite well. She demonstrated that strength with a decisive attack on the final time up the climb.
She showed the same ability this past weekend, winning the second stage of the just-completed Tour de ‘Toona on the climb to Blue Knob, taking the leader’s jersey off the back of her future Team TIBCO teammate Tara Whitten.
She held it through the third stage, only to lose it during the final stage criterium, when she got caught up behind a crash and lost contact with the peloton.
“I think Toona demonstrated the type of rider we have in Véro,” said Team Directeur Sportif/Manager Lisa Hunt, who got to witness Fortin’s abilities first-hand in Pennsylvania. “She’s an incredible talent, but she’s still learning things like positioning. But she’s going to be a fantastic stage racer. She’ll excel in any race with climbing. She’s very much a rider like Linda.”
At 5’ 5”, she’s not quite as tall as Linda Jackson, but she has the same rangy build and the same climbing ability.
“Like me, she started cycling later in life,” Jackson said. “She’s a great talent and I believe that she deserves every opportunity to excel in this sport. Her coach, Pierre Hutsebaut, emailed me about Véronique months ago. When I saw her put 20 seconds on a deep field at Canadian Nationals, I knew we had to have her on the team. I am really looking forward to working with Véronique next season, and delighted to keep the Canadian national jersey in Team TIBCO.”
“I’m very happy to join the team. I briefly met some of the girls in Pennsylvania and I can’t wait to be a part of the team,” Fortin said. “I’m devoted to improving my weaknesses and I’m sure that the girls are going to show me a lot. Even if I rode a lot before, I feel like a new world is opening in front of me.”