I recently finished two weeks of racing back East. First was the Canadian Road Nationals in Ottawa where I raced with Team Alberta, and the next was a junior women’s race in Rimouski, Quebec where I raced with NCCH (National Cycling Centre Hamilton). After not having an ideal performance at Nationals, I was determined to redeem myself at Rimouski and finish the race with a notable result. The previous year I won the QOM jersey (Queen of the Mountain) but this year, being a second year junior, I had my eye on the yellow jersey.
Stage 1: Team Time Trial
Stage one was a nine kilometer team time trial; a flat course that went along the St. Lawrence River. At race time we were fortunate enough to get very a strong tail wind which meant that speeds were going to be very fast, and we felt confident we would be in the top three. Overall, the team rode a strong ride. We finished second place to the very strong Centurion Next Wave Cycling Team coached by fellow TRT teammate Karlee! Their time was 11 seconds faster than ours and that meant in the individual GC (General Classification) we were 11 seconds back, which isn’t hard to make up at all. As a team all the girls and staff were in high spirits and excited to race the first road race.
Stage 2: Road Race #1
Stage two was pouring rain and cold, which made the race a lot more interesting racing in such harsh conditions. The race started fairly fast, a Quebec rider attacked right off the gun, however we all grouped up immediately. Riding up the first QOM, I felt strong and was riding a steady tempo with three other riders to the top. Behind us was a group of about 12 girls who eventually caught us at the top.
When we reached the second QOM, again it was myself and three other girls that reached the top together. However on this climb the group shattered and bigger gaps between groups began to form. Eventually three other girls caught us and we were now a break of six.
In my mind I thought the break was going to stick, we were about 15km from the finish and every team but one was represented in the break. However, with one kilometer to go, our break was caught by a strong chase group of riders. This wasn’t ideal for me because now it was a bunch sprint to the finish. Overall, the second stage didn’t turn out ideal with the bunch sprint, but we didn’t lose any time in the GC.
Stage 3: Individual Time Trial
Out of all the races in cycling, I would have to say time trials are my least favorite, especially when it’s a pancake flat course. However, this was the most important stage for me because I didn’t want to lose too much time on the GC. In these next 16 kms it was crucial for me to dig deep and ride as fast as I could. Overall, I ended up riding a fairly strong TT, I lost one minute and five seconds on the leader, which put me sixth in the GC, but I was still confident I would be able to make it up in the final road race.
Stage 4: Criterium
Going into the crit the team did not have too much of a plan. We were just planning to ride aggressively, make the race hard but ride safe, and not lose any time in the GC. Overall, the team rode a very strong race.
We were constantly making attacks and making the race interesting. In the final lap in the last corner I was caught up in a near crash where many people were forced to unclip. Despite almost crashing, the rest of the team and I finished in the bunch and didn’t lose any time on the GC. It was now time to focus on the last and hardest stage.
Stage 5: Cathedral Hill Road Race
Out of all the stages, this race was the most difficult; the reason for this was Cathedral Hill. This was a very steep and hard climb that we would ride four times. Everyone knew that when we hit the climb, the group would shatter. For me, climbing is a strength of mine and I was confident I would be able to break away and hopefully make up time in the GC.
As the race started I made sure I was at the front because we would approach the hill in the first 2 kms. In the first lap I wanted to break up the field right away, our team figured this was the best move in order to crack the field. Quebec rider Simone and I rode a strong tempo up the climb, and once we got to the top the group went from 50 to eight riders. I was happy with this number of people because I knew most of them were already pretty tired from the first climb, and I still felt strong and confident I could break up the group some more on the second lap.
As we got to the climb on the second lap Simone and I rode the front again, setting a hard pace up the climb. When we got to the top I looked back and it was only Simone and myself left. I was happy but knew we would have to work together and continue to drive the pace in order to get a comfortable gap. We were told we had a gap of 36 seconds, which wasn’t enough. We both wanted to stay away and expand the gap, so we got organized quickly and drove the pace.
The rest of the circuit was a mix of flat roads, and a bit of up and down. On the third lap, we were up one minute and 36 seconds. I started to get more excited that we gained a minute on the group, and I was now ahead of the rider in the yellow jersey. However, I was still not comfortable with the gap yet; it’s bike racing and anything can happen!
Simone and I communicated with each other quite a bit and worked together really well to continue growing the gap. We both knew that we would grow the gap on the climbs so we continued to push the pace and to ride a hard tempo.
Going into the final lap, the gap was up to three minutes. I was excited to hear the gap grew that much but I wasn’t surprised due to our organization, how well we worked together, and how hard we were pushing the pace. Coming into the last KM, we were going back and forth with each other; Simone out-sprinted me for the stage win but I still managed to win the yellow jersey.
Thanks to Simone for the awesome ride! Overall, the gap ended up at three minutes and 48 seconds, I was extremely excited and relieved that I won the overall GC win. A big thanks to my team that protected me in the race and the NCCH staff in the follow car! The win wasn’t possible without the team effort.
Thank you to NCCH for allowing me to ride with the team this past week, now it’s time to meet my teammates at BC super week!