Posted by Editoress on 05/13/08
Pan American Championship Wrap-Up - Canada Second Overall!
By Denise Kelly - Team Manager
Ninety riders and all their supporters were greeted with another glorious day of sunshine on the last day of competition - the men's 177 km road race. A gutsy ride by the hometown team gave Uruguay something big to cheer about as Richard Mascaranas took the gold, with Luis Macias of Mexico in second and Ottavio Brugarelli of Brasil rounding out the podium. Zach Bell, Svein Tuft and David Veilleux, didn't fare so well as the race literally got away from them.
Attacks and breakaways began just after the gun went off. The 12.5 km loop followed the same flat start stretch as the TT, with palm trees and the ocean in the background. A false flat rise characterized the far end of the course with a fast decent that came out on the flats approximately 600 metres before the finish. The cigar shaped course gave many opportunities to take time checks and monitor breakaways.
Within the first few laps, small groups were jumping off the front with all the big teams represented - Chile, Argentina and Brazil all had 10 starters (the limit was 6 elites and 4 espoirs). Veilleux followed several of the early attacks but the makeup of those groups wouldn't cooperate to chase down the leaders. After 4 laps of the 14 lap race, the front group swelled to 25 riders with the Canadians conspicuously absent.
By the end of lap 6, the time gap had increased to 4.5 minutes. The Canadians went into high gear as they each took turns attacking. Bell looked to be clear with another rider but the group decided to chase them down. Tuft attempted several times as did Veilleux. The momentum was fast and furious as the gap came down to 2 minutes in just one lap. Then it fell apart. The group was content to roll along and the gap increased again.
At the front, the group of 25 had splintered into 3, with a Brazilian taking a flyer for over 2 laps. Eventually, 7 riders would stay clear with about a 45 second gap on 3 riders and a 2 minute gap over the rest of the original 25.
With 4 laps to go, the Canadians ramped it up yet again - team time trialling for almost 50 km The yo-yo effect was eliminated as the group was strung out single file for the duration of the race. A couple other riders attempted to share the pulls once or twice but most were either unable or unwilling to assist with the effort. The 6 minute lead was reduced to just over 3 and a half minutes after the concerted effort on the part of the Canadians. It wasn't enough to close the gap.
The sprint for the win was welcomed with the large crowd of Uruguayans cheering with delight as their country man took it home. Bell and Tuft drove it home until the end with Veilleux finishing second in the third group for 24th place.
The silver lining for the Canadians at these Championships was sweet. The maple leaf was hoisted for the sixth time, signaling the second place overall finish for Canada. Columbia was first with 11 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze; Canada garnered 4 gold and 1 silver; and third place Cuba finished with 3 gold medals. The host country Uruguay finished 8th with 1 gold and 4 bronze.
It was an outstanding finish for Canada and, in particular, Svein Tuft with 4 gold medals and Zach Bell with a gold and silver. They definitely made their mark in the Southern climes, sending notice that they are ready to do business back in the North.
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