A fantastic showcase of cycling took place Saturday at the 2014 Global Relay Canadian Road Cycling Championships with the presentation of the men’s road race. The powerful Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) raced to the victory of this grueling road race in dominating fashion. Tuft demonstrated his exceptional endurance, racing in a solo breakaway for more than 120 kilometers, unchallenged, to the finish line.
A large group of 129 riders took the start of the 179km race in downtown Lac Mégantic, almost a year after the train derailment that ravaged its downtown core. A moment of silence was observed prior to the race.The race was very dynamic right from the start, as expected, with the top riders setting the pace. Arrived at the Mont-Morne circuit, multiple selections in the peloton were already created, and the top riders were all positioned at the front group.
In the second lap of the 15-km circuit, Tuft took off in a solo breakaway, and managed to create a maximum gap of 3:05.
“I was definitely questioning myself going that early. The thing is Christian and I were in the group, but that group was all the strongest guys in the race,” Tuft commented in a press release. “We couldn’t ride together and let it be decided in the last few climbs. We had to keep attacking, to shake up the race. If you come down with the strongest guys in the race, you wouldn’t have your work done yet.”
A group of powerful riders were part of the main chase group, including Tuft’s teammate Christian Meier, Michael Woods (5-hour ENERGY), Hugo Houle (Ag2R La Mondiale), Benjamin Perry (NCCH-DEC Express), Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale), Ryan Roth (Silber), William Routley, Ryan Anderson (both Optum), Antoine Duchesne (Europcar), Garret McLeod and Stuart Wight (both H&R Block).
At each of the nine climbs of the Mont-Morne, more and more riders were dropped from the group. The chase group slowly disintegrated. Routley, Bell, Anderson were all left behind on the fifth of nine climb while Boivin and Houle were dropped in the seventh lap. Meier, Woods and Roth were left by themselves trying to reel in Tuft, without success.
The gap between Tuft and the three-man chase slowly melted in the final 20km stretch, but it proved too late for the tired and small chase group. Tuft rode solo, crossed the finish line with a time of 4:27:51.
“Coming down the stretch, I was hurting for sure,” Tuft continued. “Eventually, you have a whole bunch of guys chasing, you’re going to hit the wall. With the heat, the wind… It all takes its toll. I was suffering. I knew my limit and stayed as close as I could to come home as strong as I could, which wasn’t very strong at all.”
Roth took the second place, a full minute behind tuft, edging Meier, in third place. Woods came in fourth place, in the three-man sprint for second place.
The victory for Tuft came two days after he won his ninth Canadian time trial title. Today, he won his career second road race title. In 2011, Tuft had won with Team SpiderTech, when he and his teammates Zach Bell and Routley made it to the line together in a three-man breakaway.
Svein added, one this title versus his title from 2011: “This one I am more proud of the road title. In 2011, we had some good odds with SpiderTech. We had numbers, and we could take control of the race. Today, with two guys, we had to race the perfect race. Right from the beginning, Christian and I were always in the moves, and making sure that we wouldn’t be racing from behind. I’d have to say I am proud of this one.”
In the U23 category, Perry finished eight overall and won the coveted jersey. Perry was among the first group throughout the race, and showcased promising talent in doing so. In second place was Kris Dahl (Smartstop), while Jay Lamoureux (NCCH-DEC Express) took the third place.
A total of 129 riders took to the start, while only 39 managed to finish the race of attrition.
Podiums – Road Race – Global Relay Canadian Road Championships
MEN – ELITE (Full results)
1. TUFT, Svein (Orica-GreenEDGE) 04:27:51
2. ROTH, Ryan (Team Silber Pro Cycling) +1:00
3. MEIER, Christian (Orica-GreenEDGE) +1:00
MEN – ELITE U23 (Full results)
1. PERRY, Benjamin (NCCH p/b DEC Express) 4:32:02
2. DAHL, Kristofer (Team SmartStop) +13:29
3. LAMOUREUX, Jay (NCCH p/b DEC Express) +13:29