Posted by Editoress on 06/10/12
Sweltering heat marked the fourth stop of the Plastiglas Ontario Cup mountain bike race series, held at Albion Hills Conservation Area, just north of Bolton. For those attending next week's national championships in St. Felicien, Quebec, the event also provided an opportunity for a final high-intensity training session. Rain earlier in the week made for good conditions in the morning, but the swooping course quickly dried out, making for a hot and dusty afternoon during the marquee events.
One rider who enjoyed the heat was Laura Bietola (Scott - 3Rox Racing). "I struggled with racing in the cold at the start of the season and this is the first hot race that we've had and I love racing in the heat," she commented.
A lead group consisting of Cayley Brooks (Trek Canada), Mandy Dreyer (Lapierre POC), Bietola and her teammate Mikaela (Fudge) Kofman formed early in the first lap.
"I just stuck with them and on one of the hills I attacked and it kind of blew up right there," explained Bietola. "It was just Fudge and me for about half of the first lap. But Fudge had a really good race. She went past me and I never saw her again. I stayed in second the whole race. I felt really good."
Elite Women's podium
The podium placing is an important turnaround for the 20-year old from Greenwood. "This is my first result that I'm really happy with, and it's really good motivation since I'm going to nationals next weekend. This is definitely the race I needed to be motivated. I'm looking forward to doing well at the (U23) race."
Kofman relied on her experience to secure the win: "I rode smooth off the start but all the girls started really hard, so it was a nice push right off the go. It was super hot and I think the heat might have gotten to some people, but just riding steady was the key to today's race. I've had a lot of practice in the heat over the last few years but I definitely can't say it didn't bother me. When it's 35 degrees out it's always going to affect you a bit but I would say I just kept pushing through. It's important to just keep going in the heat."
"Today was the last little bit of intensity and long endurance ride before nationals and now it's going to be a taper into the weekend," added Kofman. "It was definitely a good hard effort before nationals. It's my first year out of U23 so I'm going to be with the big girls. I would say I'm looking for a top-5 finish but I just want to be realistic. If I ride my bike hard I'll have the result I want."
Despite their fast start, Brooks and Dreyer were overtaken for third place by Samantha Wagler (Two Wheel Racing). "It's really, really exciting," she said of her place on the podium. "I was sick before the first three Canada Cups, so this is the first race that I felt really healthy and good, so I'm really happy with it."
The breakthrough for the 19-year old Kitchener resident was not due to any major change in her training. "I just trained lots. I went to California and South Carolina with Team Ontario, and I just did pretty much the same stuff, maybe just a little more volume. I felt really fit in the winter, then I was sick a bit so I was a little bit discouraged, but now I'm feeling good again."
Dreyer commented that the heat played a role in her race: "Oh, it was really, really hot. It's a different race in the hot weather. A completely different race. You learn how to pace yourself properly. If you don't pace it right in the beginning it completely changes your outcome for the end of the race. I think I went out a little too hot in the first two laps and then had to cut it back in order to have a strong enough finish."
Junior Women's podium
A huge cloud of dust followed the field off the line, led by a charging Ryan Atkins (Muskoka Cycling Club). By the end of the second lap, Mitchell Bailey (Trek Canada) and Tyson Wagler (Scott - 3Rox Racing) had managed to separate themselves from the pack, followed by the chasing duo of Steven Noble (Opus/OGC) and Kelsey Krushel (Lapierre POC). Bailey was eventually able to shake off Wagler for the second elite Ontario Cup win of his career.
"It was really hot today," said Bailey, "But because the speeds were so high you didn't really notice it." The Barrie resident has come on strongly of late, which he attributes to his training and the ability to focus solely on cycling: "I think it's mostly just being home from school, being comfortable and just relaxing. A lot of work I did in the winter is starting to come through now which is good." The 20-year old is aiming for a top-three finish at nationals. "It's going to be tough because there are seven guys who are equally deserving of the title."
Though the effects of breathing in lots of dust left him somewhat hoarse during a post-race interview, Wagler credited the terrain for his second-place finish. "It was definitely a course that suited me," he said. "Short steep climbs and twisty singletrack. I haven't had the greatest season (so far) but I was feeling great and I just felt like going for it right off the bat." The 20-year old dairy farmer is looking for a good result at nationals: " Top-six for sure because I need the points to make it to the World Cups the following weekends."
Noble and Krushel started the final lap together, but the Opus/OGC rider did what was necessary to secure the third step on the podium. "On the last lap I wanted to put in an effort to get away," explained Noble, "But not a super, super hard effort, because I wanted to have something left in the tank. It was more of a consistent effort over two or three minutes."
Elite Men's podium
It's not often a racer is happy with fourth, but Krushel was not disappointed in being pipped for third by Noble. "It was a great result for me today. Albion Hills is one of my favourite courses. I race here every Tuesday, so I kind of went for it on the first lap and it worked out and I came in fourth. I haven't broken the top-10 in elite before, so it's definitely my best result yet." Despite his familiarity with the course, the Caledon resident was wary of the warm temperatures: "I was pretty careful about the heat. I knew it was a big thing so I was drinking a full bottle every lap and had four gels over the course of the race."
Junior Men's podium
- A collision with a tree led to a short afternoon for Peter Disera (Cycle Solutions - Angry Johnny's Racing). Hot on the heels of eventual Junior Expert Men's race winner Marc-Antoine Nadon, Disera overcooked a turn and crashed hard. Severe bruising and lack of strength in his left arm forced him out of the race, although he expects to be able to recover in time for nationals.
- On July 8th, the fifth race of the Ontario Cup mountain bike series visits the Naughton Trails, located less than 20 kilometers west of Sudbury. Glen Meeuwisse of Pulse Racing has received confirmation that the venue will host a Canada Cup on July 13th and 14th, 2013, one week prior to the 2013 national championships at Hardwood Ski & Bike.
- Mikaela Kofman uses a low-tech method to keep cool: "I just keep a really cold ice towel around my neck for as long as I can while I'm warming up just to keep my core temperature down. I don't have an ice vest or anything like that. I think a good old fashioned wet rag always does the trick."
Report by Emil van Dijk
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