By Dede Demet Barry, T-Mobile professional cycling team
Last night, I returned to North America for the first time since mid-February. Today the Montréal World Cup was my first race on the continent this season. This race is the premier women’s race in North America, and it is perhaps the only race that fields a quality international women’s peloton.
A cool Canadian breeze greeted us at the start, but the fans kept us warm. Geneviéve Jeanson and Lyne Bessette are household names in Canada now, and they bring many admirers to this race each year, as Mont Royale is always lined with people.
Geneviéve’s name has been in the headlines of the Quebec newspapers the past week, as much controversy has arisen over a missed drug test in April. As athletes, we’re subject to regular out of competition and in competition drug testing. It is our responsibility to make ourselves accessible at all times for tests and to check the random testing lists after each race. Geneviéve obviously made a huge error missing the test, but it seems she has not upset too many fans, as she still had many people on Mont Royale cheering “Tiger,” and GJ was written all over the streets. The stress of the situation must have driven her to push hard in the race, as she rode strongly and powered up the final ascent to win the race.
Judith Arndt and Olivia Gollan finished second and third. They carried some excellent form from Tour de L’Aude, a 10-day stage race that finished last Sunday. My T-Mobile teammates were strong as well; Amber finished fifth and Kim Anderson 15th. It seems the team is getting a little stronger each passing week.
As for me, I was feeling a little spaced out and tired from my trip across the pond yesterday. I think I was cutting it a little too close, arriving the night before the race from Europe; I wouldn’t try to do it again. Racing while jet-lagged is a weird sensation – I constantly feel in another world, with poor reflexes and balance. I guess it is all understandable, considering the fatigue the body and mind are feeling. I managed to finish the race, but nowhere near where I had hoped.
On Monday we will start the Tour of Montréal, a three-day, four-stage race. I am looking forward to this event and am hoping an easy day on the bike and a few good nights of sleep will have me feeling better for the prologue on Monday.
It is always fun for me to race in Canada, because it is sort of my second home now, as Michael is Canadian. I have great support up here, and it is motivating to have so many fans cheering me on.