Leah Kirchmann of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies triumphed in Road Race at Canadian Championships to win her second title at Global Relay Canadian Road Championships.
Without its reigning champion and Kirchmann’s teammate Joëlle Numainville, the peloton of 57 women started the 119-km road race in downtown Lac Mégantic, then faced the Mont Morne circuit. The group rode five laps of the loop prior to its return to Lac Mégantic.
Earlier in the race, two cyclists broke away together until the first climb of the Mont Morne, a two-kilometer wall with a maximum slope of 11%. Early in the first ascent, the two-women breakaway was quickly reduced to a single racer, Megan Rathwell (IRC p/b Robert), who stayed alone at the front until the fourth lap of the circuit. Rathwell, after a tremendous solo effort, was brought back at the 72nd kilometer.
Leaving the circuit, and with 20 kilometers to go in the tough race, only about 20 cyclists were left in the at the front of the race. Then, several unsuccessful attacks were repeated mainly by Team Optum and Team TIBCO. The group remained together until 500 meters to go.
The sprint was launched about fifty meters before the finish line, with Kirchmann crossing the line first, two seconds ahead of teammate Denise Ramsden, the 2012 Canadian Champion. Leah Guloien of Trek Red Truck team finished third.
The road race title is Kirchmann’s second win of the week, and third consecutive title with the criterium title in 2013. “I couldn’t have asked for a better Nationals so far. I’ve surprised myself every day. Obviously, I’m going for a third win on Sunday.
“We were comfortable with the race coming to a bunch sprint. My team has a lot of faith in my sprinting abilities. We did expect a finish with a smaller group, given the difficulty of the climb.I think winning helps taking away some of the fatigue that I felt today,” Kirchmann stated in a release. “The team, myself included, did a lot of work today, so I was feeling it on the run in.”
In the U23 category, Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin of Team Quebec took the title by virtue of finishing in fifth place in the elite race. Jasmin Glaesser of Tibco-To-The-Top finished second of the U23 standings, followed in third by Kinley Gibson of Trek Red Truck Racing. Glaesser won the U23 Time Trial Championships on Friday with Pilote-Fortin finished third.
After crashing the first time up Mont Morne, 21-year old Pilote-Fortin chased back to rejoin and stay in the ever-shrinking lead group.
“Gabrielle played her cards very well and respected the game plan to the letter, which gave her the victory. I’m really happy for her, because at last year’s Canada Games, she was not able to perform at the height of her talent, a victim of repeated bad luck.” Pascal Choquette, Equipe du Québec directeur told sportcom.ca.
Bad luck struck for Olympian Gillian Carleton (Vanderkitten) who crashed violently in the final 20 kilometers after putting in multiple attacks during the race. Her injuries include a dislocated jaw, stitches and a concussion.
The women will take part in the criterium on Sunday to close 2014 Global Relay Canadian Road Cycling Championships.
Top three – Road Race – Global Relay Canadian Road Championships
WOMEN – ELITE (Full Results)
1. KIRCHMANN, Leah (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) 3:47:13
2. RAMSDEN, Denise (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) +0:02
3. GULOIEN, Leah (Trek Red Truck Racing) +0:04
WOMEN – STANDINGS U23 (Full Results)
1. PILOTE-FORTIN, Gabrielle (Equipe du Québec) 3:47:17
2. GLAESSER, Jasmin (TIBCO/To the Top) st
3. GIBSON, Kinley (Trek Red Truck Racing) st