Posted by Editor on 01/3/06
2005 - A Year in Review
Yesterday we began our review of the 2005 season with the early months - January to March. Now we enter the "meat" of the cycling season, beginning with April and May.
In Europe the season began with many of the traditional Classics, while the North American circuit got underway with Redlands. Eric Wohlberg gave Symmetrics a fine result with his fifth place overall (and the team finished fourth overall). In the women's race Erinne Willock (Webcor) showed that she is now ready to take on a team leadership role with a fourth place finish overall.
One of the biggest events of the month (from a Canadian perspective) was Marie-Helene Premont's victory at the first round of the World Cup in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. Premont became the first rider since 2002 to beat World and Olympic champion Gunn-Rita Dahle. Marie-Helene also donned the blue World Cup leader's jersey.
The CCA continued to move forward after the hiring of COO (Chief Operating Officer) Steve Lacelle by filling the Mountain Bike Coach position (Michel Leblanc) and advertising for a number of other positions (which would be gradually filled over the next few months).
Ryder Hesjedal had the opportunity to ride the Paris-Roubaix with Discovery, and spoke with us about his experience afterwards (Daily News April 10th):
RH - The cobbles ... it is insane, full speed. You are always fighting, always at the limit, even before the cobbles. The short sections, 500 metres aren't so bad, over pretty quick, but some sections are 2K, 3K, 4K long ... Just have to stay composed.
CC - How does the pounding comparing to mountain biking?
RH - There is no comparison. There really isn't any pounding in mountain biking, you get shaken up, but you aren't on the saddle taking the pounding from every crevice of the cobbles for 7 hours.
CC - Where does it hurt the most?
RH - I don't know yet, just exhaustion right now. I guess I will know tomorrow. (laughs)
Hesjedal finished the month off with a strong performance in the Tour of Romandie, placing 10th in the Prologue and 32nd overall, ensuring himself a spot on the Discovery Giro d'Italia squad.
In mountain biking, Canadians completely dominated Sea Otter, with Geoff Kabush and Alison Sydor winning the overall titles (and the final deciding cross-country stage). Wendy Simms took third overall in the women's race. Roland Green impressed in his first race back, finishing 8th overall.
This was a banner week for Geoff Kabush: He had his birthday on the Thursday, and got engaged, then won Sea Otter. "It was a pretty big week". Geoff's fiance is Keri Pink, who works for Smith Optics, and whom he met at the Interbike the previous fall. You will notice that he is wearing custom pink Smith sunglasses - Photo...
On the road side, Gord Fraser won the men's Prologue to take the leader's jersey briefly (and finished second overall). Fraser went on a week later to win the final stage of the Tour de Georgia. Tom Danielson (Discovery) took the overall Georgia title, with Dominique Perras (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) the top Canadian in 28th place - followed by Kabush in 31st!
At the Pan American Road and Track Championships, Mandy Poitras and Gina Grain took silver and bronze respectively in the women's Scratch Race, Travis Smith a bronze in the Kilo, Charles Dionne a silver in the men's road race and the Canadian squad of Smith, Cam MacKinnon and Yannik Morin a silver in the Team Sprint.
Canada had two riders in the Giro d'Italia (something we haven't seen for a while...) - Michael Barry and Ryder Hesjedal. Both started very strongly, recording top-20 results in the Prologue (15th and 18th respectively). While Barry would go on to finish (in 101st place), Hesjedal had a bad crash in the 6th stage, forcing him to withdraw a few days later (13th stage).
Marie-Helene Premont showed that her win a few weeks earlier in the World Cup opener wasn't a fluke, finishing second to Gunn-Rita Dahle. Dahle took over the series lead (by having the most recent win). Canadian men were conspicuous by their absence - none of the top riders were coming to Europe for the World Cups, and Max Plaxton was suffering a series of mishaps which would end up plaguing his entire season.
Lyne Bessette returned to the road after spending the early part of the season racing off-road. The dirt riding didn't seem to hurt her pavement abilities too much - she finished fifth overall in the Tour de l'Aude, with Erinne Willock a strong 9th.
As part of its restructuring, the CCA announced late in the month that it would be cutting funding to Downhill. This meant that the national DH champions would no longer receive funding to attend the world championships. Reaction on the Forums was immediate, with the Downhill supporters decrying the removal of support, and others pointing out that federal funding is tied to Olympic sports, which DH is not. The jury is still out on this one...
The CCA published the preliminary criteria for the Commonwealth Games, proposing a team of 19 athletes, but only 2 each (men and women) for mountain bike (3 are allowed under CG rules). We (CC) immediately pointed out that this made no sense (in our opinion), since mountain bike is the discipline where Canada has the greatest chance of medalling (multiple medals, in fact). The discussion is ongoing still, and the CCA did up the women's team by 1 in the fall.
The month ended with Genevieve Jeanson outduelling Erinne Willock (who finished 6th) to take her second Montreal World Cup win in three years - Jeanson was back.
Tomorrow - June
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