By Rob Jones
Saturn dominated the first day of the 2001 Canadian National Road Championships, with Eric Wohlberg and Lyne Bessette winning their respective time trials. The national championships are being held in the town of Dieppe, New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada.
The elite men covered 2 circuits of the 20 kilometer road race course, while the women and espoir men did two loops of a shortened 13 kilometer circuit. Both were rolling, with no major climbs. Conditions were perfect, except for a very strong wind that was in the face of riders as they finished.
Bessette’s main rival was Genevieve Jeanson (Rona), who had finished second to another Saturn rider last year — Clara Hughes. Hughes skipped nationals this year, as she prepares for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics (speed skating), opening the door for Bessette or Jeanson.
Unfortunately for the young Rona rider, it was a case of deja vu, as she was beat by almost an identical time difference as last year — 10 seconds.
Bessette was not sure she had won until Jeanson crossed the line, at which point she screamed “Yes! Yes! Yes!”, having won her first national time trial title. “The wind and all the little hills were really hard. It meant that you had to focus all the time to keep up a good rhythm.”
The men’s field was set to buzzing when it became known that mountain biker Roland Green (Trek-VW) had flown in to compete. Green has made no secret of his desire to race the time trial at the world championships, and decided two days before to fly out and compete. He also began his cycling career as a time trialist, finishing in the top 25 at the Colombia world championships, against the likes of Miguel Indurain and Abraham Olano.
“I am going really well right now, and this is the event that I have to show up and prove (to national selectors) that I am serious about Worlds.” explained Green. His bike — Lance Armstrong’s back-up machine — garnered as much attention as did Green himself.
However, Green was in for some tough competition. Besides Wohlberg, going for his sixth consecutive title, there was Svein Tuft — the British Columbia rider who won the final stage of Beauce and has been on form all season.
By the end of the first lap it was clear that Wohlberg was en route to another title. The splits showed him 25 seconds ahead of Tuft, who was 10 seconds in front of Green. The gap really opened on the second lap, with Tuft catching Green, his minute man, and Wohlberg demolishing the field, nearly 2 minutes ahead of Tuft.
“I was worried about Roland — he’s an ex-TTer who flattened us all in the spring (at Redlands) — and I knew Svein was riding well, so I had to respect the field. This was a good course for me, and when I caught Min (Van Velzen, his minute man) after the first lap I knew I was doing a good ride.”
Green admitted that his lack of time on the road has hurt. “This is the first time I have ridden the TT bike since Redlands. I was okay, but I just wasn’t producing any power. I know now that I need time to get into the position (on the bike).”
Race Notes*At least two riders were hit by cars on the course and had to be taken to hospital. One was Amy Jarvis of the Rona team, who ran into a driver who cut in front of her without paying attention (Jarvis was on a section of the course closed off by traffic cones). The last word is that she suffered some deep lacerations and possible ligament damage, but no broken bones.
*Wohlberg reported that in the tail wind section he was registering 75 kilometers per hour at one point.
*Green will not be staying for the road race, but another mountain biker — Ryder Hesjedal — is flying in to do it.
CANADIAN NATIONAL TIME TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, Dieppe, New Brunswick. July 25.
Pro Elite Men – 40 km;
1. Eric Wohlberg (Levack, ON) Saturn 48:05;
2. Svein Tuft (Langley, BC) Broadmark 49:56;
3. Roland Green (Victoria, BC) Trek Volkwagen 51:08;
4. Alexandre Cloutier (Ste.Foy, QC) Volkwagen le alles 51:11;
5. Mark Walters (Blackstock, ON) Navigators 51:32;
6. Min van Velzen (Vancouver, BC) Trek-VW 51:48;
7. Peter Wedge (Fredericton, NB) Sympatico.ca 52:14;
8. Darko Ficko (ON) Woodbridge Italia 53:04;
9. Paolo Saldana (QC) VB Saeco 53:08;
10. Josh Hall (ON) Sympatico.ca 54:39
Espoir Men – 26km;
1. Charles Dionne (QC) 7-Up Colorado Cyclist 35:43;
2. Francois Parisien (QC) Team Quebec 36:11;
3. Martin Gilbert (QC) Team Quebec 37:70;
4. Jean-Francois Laroche ( (QC) Team Quebec 37:37;
5. Cameron McKnight (AB) ERTC 37:46;
6. Jean-Philippe Houle-Paradis (QC) St. Fois 38:10;
7. Ian Condron (BC) Trek-VW 38:15;
8. Murry Carter (MB) Team Manitoba 38:26;
9. Martin St. Laurent (QC) Team Quebec 38:41
Pro Elite Women – 26 km;
1. Lyne Bessette (Knowlton, QC) Saturn 38:41;
2. Genevieve Jeason (Lachine, QC) Team Rona 38:51;
3. Leigh Goldstein (Vancouver, BC) 800.com 38:56;
4. Sandy Espeseth (Victoria, BC) Intersports 39:22;
5. Anne Samplonious (Oakville, ON) Intersports 39:45;
6. Manon Jutras (QC) Team Rona 40:43;
7. Andrea Hannos (Victoria, BC) Verizon 40:48;
8. Merril Collins (ON) Woodbridge Italia 41:42;
9. Carrie Tuck (Blairmore, AB) Team Alberta 42:01;
10. Melanie Nadeau (Ascot Corner, QC) Team Rona 41:10