June never fails to be a great month for the Red Truck women. The warm weather brings some pretty epic races, one of the biggest of which is Gatineau. With Nationals based in Ottawa and the Gatineau Park at the end of the month, Gatineau would also give us a chance to test our legs out on some of the tough roads we’ll be facing.
The road race kicked off Thursday evening. After threatening rain throughout the day, the skies cleared up not long before we rolled off the start line. Two loops through the Gatineau Park brought steep climbs and screaming descents, followed by a flat, very technical circuit. Of course, difficult races are where the TRT women thrive, so we knew it was going to be a solid day!
From the gun TRT was one of the dominant teams, with Leah making a well-timed early attack heading up the first hills of the park. She stayed away for over an hour, an effort that forced the pro teams to put in a big chase to bring her back. Heading into the final climb of the second park loop, the peloton exploded. A strong move up the climb coupled with a crash mid-pack blew many of the riders off the back. Suzanne and I got stuck in a bad spot at this critical moment and weren’t able to make the lead group, but spent the rest of the race chasing hard and working to try and close the gap. Suzanne’s definitely a rider you want in your chase group – she works hard, stays positive, and is there with a bottle when you miss your feed. Thanks Suz!
While I wasn’t there to see it, the front group stayed extremely dynamic, with plenty of attacks and splits in the group. However, it eventually came down to a bunch sprint down a wide straightaway. Thanks to some savvy team tactics and awesome sprint legs, Sara pulled out an impressive fourth against some of the top girls in North America!
Following this great result, most of the girls headed to Victoria to race the Cameron Law Classic. Meanwhile, Gillian, Sara, and I stayed to race the Chrono Gatineau, an ITT on a course very similar to what we’ll be seeing at Nationals. It’s quite straightforward, as courses go – first you go up a big hill, and then you turn around and come down a big hill. Easy to remember, and hard to make any wrong turns. To keep it interesting, there were lots of people cheering on the course, and I mean ON the course. Joggers, women with baby strollers, people out for an easy ride – we dodged it all going through the park! Far from being a one-trick pony, Sara pulled out a 12th place finish against some top ITT riders. Sprints, hills, time trials – you name it, she’ll get the job done!
Overall it was a very successful trip cross-country, made possible by our always-generous sponsors! Your donated airline points took care of a lot of the costs associated with flying out east, not to mention the numerous other costs associated with racing a top-level UCI event. Your support is invaluable and hugely appreciated!