June 27/12 22:30 pm - Road Nationals: Men's RR report
Posted by Editor on 06/27/12
The men's field for the road race at the elite national championships was probably the strongest assembled since the 2003 version on the Hamilton Road Worlds course. In addition to 11 entrants on Canada's only professional continental squad - SpiderTech p/b C10 - there were five of Canada's six European-based pros: Michael Barry (Sky), Svein Tuft and Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge), David Veilleux (Team Europcar) and Dom Rollin (FDJ-Big Mat). It was Team World Tour versus Team SpiderTech. In the end, SpiderTech prevailed, with Ryan Roth winning a sprint finish against Michael Barry, the most dominant rider in the 180 kilometre race.
Rolling out of Lac Megantic in heavy rain
The riders started out from Lac-Megantic in heavy rain, heading 40 kilometres to the 14 kilometre Mont Morne circuit, with its difficult two kilometre climb. The riders would have to climb Mont Morne seven times before heading back into Lac-Megantic, over more rolling climbs, to a downtown finish.
After a few early attacks, the first serious one of the day was established 18 kilometres into the race, with five riders going clear, including Sebastien Salas (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Will Routley (SpiderTech). This group was quickly brought back, but it set the stage for a counterattack that would form the major break of the race.
The break being led by Will Routley
Nine riders went clear in the runup to the first ascent of Mont Morne - Rob Britton (Team H&R Block), David Stephens (Garneau Evolution), Derrick St John (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery), Marsh Cooper (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Will Routley, Ryan Anderson, Martin Gilbert, David Boily (all SpiderTech powered by C10) and Bruce Bird (Wheels of Bloor/Graywood Developments).
Against a backdrop of rain, thunder and lightning, this group, driven by four SpiderTech riders, quickly began to open a gap, eventually hitting some six minutes within a lap. This was too much for the Euro-pros, and they gradually began assembling at the front of the peloton, driving the pace and shredding the bunch - only 38 eventually finished out of a start list of over 100.
The Pros start to chase
The gap was brought down steadily to less than three minutes with three laps remaining. The rain finally stopped with two laps remaining, and the gap was under 90 seconds with one climb remaining, and down to a minute at the top.
Realizing that the break's usefulness was at an end, Britton, Cooper and Routley attacked the break. Back at the remnants of the peloton - less than 25 riders - Barry made his move, taking Salas with him, and catching first the rest of the chasers and then the three leaders.
With 47 seconds on the bunch containing Tuft, Meier and Veilleux, there was certainly no time to rest, and Barry set the tempo. The pace was so fierce that only Britton, Cooper, Salas and Roth could respond. The gap to the main chase was 35 seconds, and Barry was attacking on almost every climb, eventually pulling clear with only Cooper and Roth as companions. Salas and a very impressive Under-23 rider, Antoine Duchesne (Garneau- Quebecor-Norton Rose), plus Britton, Gilbert, Boily and Nic Hamilton, were the first chasers, followed by small clumps of riders, all struggling to finish as best they could.
Roth takes the win over Barry
Coming into the finish is a tricky chicane turn 300 metres from the line, and Roth was able to get in front for that finish, holding off Barry in second. Cooper took third and Duschesne led in a small group to take fourth and the Under-23 title.
"It feels good to win the jersey. Our only goal for the day was to win the race. I am very happy about that. It's really special, because you get to wear it all year," said Roth. "We are the 'big team' with numbers in the race, so the pressure is on us. It's just good we were able to accomplish that."
"We weren't given a lot of information on the gap, and who was behind, so it was tough. Michael [Barry] was so strong I knew he didn't want the break to come back with no teammates, and he's not a big sprinter. It certainly didn't suit him to be a bunch sprint. Same goes for the two Optum riders. I thought between us the gap would last."
"I didn’t know I won until I crossed the finish line. I didn't want to put my hands up as I didn’t want to risk anything. I just focused on my race and not worrying about winning."
"It is always hard for us [European professionals] to come to Nationals," commented Barry, "because we are outnumbered by the local teams. But it was a hard race, and I'm very pleased with the way it went. [Ryan] just outjumped me."
"This is the first time I've been to Nationals since 2003, in Hamilton. It was interesting to be back here in Mont Megantic, because this was my first Nationals, as a Junior, back in 1992."