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Canadian National Road Championships: Christian Meier trades his U23 jersey for an elite version.

Christian Meier (Symmetrics) made one of a professional cyclist's key transitions this week, swapping his U23 national title for the Elite men's road title. However, despite the support of the powerful Symmetrics squad, it was not an easy victory, with Bruno Langlois (VW-Specialized) surging back on the final climb to finish less than a bike length behind Meier. Meier's teammate Jacob Erker took the bronze medal, while David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast) finished seventh to win the U23 title on Sunday.

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By Rob Jones

Canadian Road Championships: Meire takes his first elite championship

Canadian Road Championships: Meire takes his first elite championship

Photo: Rob Jones

Christian Meier (Symmetrics) made one of a professional cyclist’s key transitions this week, swapping his U23 national title for the Elite men’s road title. However, despite the support of the powerful Symmetrics squad, it was not an easy victory, with Bruno Langlois (VW-Specialized) surging back on the final climb to finish less than a bike length behind Meier. Meier’s teammate Jacob Erker took the bronze medal, while David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast) finished seventh to win the U23 title on Sunday.

The 173 kilometer course was familiar to anyone who had raced the Tour de Beauce a few weeks earlier — the 9.6 kilometer circuit was that race’s stage 5. Dominated by a finishing climb of 1500 meters, the course has enough twists and turns to be a criterium circuit, and favors breakaways with the constant shifts in speed and tempo. However, strong crosswinds discouraged single riders or small groups, and the 18 laps and high 30 degree temperature broke a lot of riders, with only 35 of 135 starters finishing.

Symmetrics, with 11 riders, was definitely the dominant team in the race. Their strategy was to cover every move up the road, latch onto serious rivals such as Dominique Rollin (Toyota United) and Francois Parisien (Team Race Pro), and then put one or more of their top riders — Meier, Svein Tuft, Cam Evans — into a winning position.

Canadian Road Championships: Meier, Erker and Langlois

Canadian Road Championships: Meier, Erker and Langlois

Photo: Rob Jones

The race turned into one of attrition, with a large group going off the front in lap two. A near constant reshuffling of riders rotating up and falling back required a scorecard to keep track.

The initial group at the front included Pascal Bussieres (2peer.com), Jean-Sébastien Perron (Eva-Devinci) Jake Erker, Erik Wohlberg (Symmetrics), and Mark Walters (Team Race Pro). They were quickly joined by Mark Pozniak (Team Race Pro) and Georges-Édouard Duquette and Martin Gilbert (both Équipe du Québec). Zach Bell (Symmetrics) jumped across during the third lap, bringing Gilbert back with him, after the Quebec rider had crashed heavily from hitting a pothole. Gilbert rode the rest of the race with ripped shorts and a bloody elbow and leg, eventually dropping out with a couple of laps to go.

This group was large enough to battle the wind, and contained all the main teams except VW-Specialized. It motored out to a two-and-a-half minute lead but couldn’t extend any further, with Rollin and Parisien both making serious efforts to get across, only to find one or more Symmetrics riders on their wheel each time.

At the midpoint of the race, with the peloton down to half its former size, four riders managed to bridge across: Derrek Ivey (Mazurcoaching.com), Buck Miller (Team RACE Pro), Jeff Sherstobitoff (Symmetrics Cycling) and Bruno Langlois. But the pace was picking up, and the lead was about to get reshuffled into its final form.

Rollin made another effort to get across, with Meier on his wheel. While Rollin made it to the back of the break, it had split after an attack by Wohlberg. Meier immediately jumped again to get across to the leaders.

Canadian Road Championships: Rollin was a marked man

Canadian Road Championships: Rollin was a marked man

Photo: Rob Jones

With seven laps to go, the race was finally taking shape, with a lead group of five: Walters, Erker, Langlois, Derrick St John (Jet Fuel Coffee) and Meier. A chase group followed at 40 seconds with Wohlberg, Ryan Roth (Team Race Pro), Dominique Perras (Eva-Devinci) and Jean-Michel Lachance (VW-Specialized), followed by a third group containing Rollin, and a fourth group with Parisien, Tuft and Evans.

At the front, Meier and Erker had taken charge, with Meier surging on the climb each lap. With five laps to go, St John fell off, and a lap later it was Walters, leaving just Meier, Erker and Langlois to go for the win. Langlois appeared to be getting a bit of a free ride, and when Erker cramped up with two laps to go, it began to look like Symmetrics might have made a bit of a miscalculation.

“It was up to them [Symmetrics] to do the work, ” said Langlois “they had more riders, and were the powerful team.”

Canadian Road Championships: David Veilleux pulled off the rare double of taking both the U23 titles - ITT and Road Race.

Canadian Road Championships: David Veilleux pulled off the rare double of taking both the U23 titles – ITT and Road Race.

Photo: Rob Jones

Meier professed himself to be less worried about the situation, “he told us that he was having problems with his feet, and I could see on the climb that he wasn’t going as well.”

It was down to these two for the national title, and after the Symmetrics team car came up for a chat with Meier, it appeared to finally force Langlois to contribute to the effort, although Meier was still the one at the front on the climb.

Going into the final 1500 meters, the two were still together, riding side by side and not looking at each other. Meier finally jumped with 500 metres to go and immediately got a gap, so it looked like the race was over, until Langlois struggled back in the last 200 metres and was starting to challenge again, before he ran out of course.

“I was cramping on the climb for the last two laps,” revealed Langlois “and I could not stand. When Christian went at 500 metres I could not respond, but I was able to go harder sitting down and came back to him. Maybe, if the course was a little longer…”

“It was definitely a hard, hard day out there,” commented Meier. “I couldn’t have done it without Jake and the rest of my team; any one of them were strong enough to win, I just happened to be the one who got in the breakaway.”

Meier has been the Under-23 road and time trial champion, but moved into the Elite category for the first time this year. “This is a big win for me, one of my biggest, for sure. I’ve won the Under-23 before, but this is at a whole other level.”

Race Notes

  • Symmetrics stated earlier in the year that they were in a bit of a sponsorship/financial crisis, and had the funds to run a full program through Nationals. So does that mean this is it for Canada’s top team? According to Meier “we are still going, there is BC Superweek, and some of the guys are off to Cascade right away. Then there is Tour of Utah and Missouri. We can still do these races because they aren’t too expensive on the budget, and some expenses are taken care of.”

    When asked what about offers from other teams, Meier suddenly got fidgety and grinned. “There might be some stuff coming up, but we’ll have to see. There might be some news coming out.”

Photo Gallery

Results

2008 Canadian Road Championships
1. Christian Meier Symmetrics Cycling at s.t.
2. Bruno Langlois Volkswagen at ats.t.
3. Jacob Erker Symmetrics Cycling at 1:08
4. Eric Wohlberg Symmetrics Cycling at 2:45
5. Mathieu Toulouse Eva-Devinci 2:45
6. Keven Lacombe Équipe du Québec at 3:01
7. David Veilleux Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast at 3:07
8. Mark Walters Team RACE Pro at 3:37
9. Ryan Roth Team RACE Pro at 4:05
10. Jean-Sébastien Perron Eva-Devinci at 5:59
11. Will Routley Symmetrics Cycling at 7:16
12. Éric Boily Volkswagen at 8:49
13. Dave Vukets Trek Red Truck P/B Mosaic Homes at 10:02
14. Derrick St John Jet Fuel Coffee at 10:24
15. Andrew Pinfold Symmetrics Cycling at 10:39
16. Dominique Perras Eva-Devinci at 10:49
17. Trevor Connor Chris Cookies/Swan Cycles at 10:55
18. Georges-Édouard Duquette Eva-Devinci at 11:30
19. Charly Vives Calyon pro cycling team at 12:23
20. Jean-Michel Lachance Volkswagen at 13:14
21. Guillaume Boivin Équipe du Québec at 13:38
22. Ryan Taylor Atlantic Cycling Centre at 13:39
23. Charles Dionne Équipe du Québec 13:39
24. Mark Batty Team RACE Pro 13:39
25. Arnaud Papillon Volkswagen at 13:45
26. Michael Joanisse Équipe du Québec at 13:49
27. André Tremblay Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle at 13:53
28. Dominique Rollin Toyota-united pro cycling team at 14:01
29. Peter Morse Jet Fuel Coffee at 14:05
30. Joel-Dion Poitras Team RACE Pro at 14:07
31. Jamie Riggs Team Ontario at 14:10
32. Francois Parisien Team RACE Pro at 14:30
33. Rob Britton Trek Red Truck P/B Mosaic Homes at 14:41
34. Pascal Bussières 2peer.com at 16:34
35. Adam Thuss Team RACE Pro at 18:29
DNF. Cam Evans Symmetrics Cycling
DNF. Andrew Randell Symmetrics Cycling
DNF. Svein Tuft Symmetrics Cycling
DNF. Dustin Macburnie Team RACE Pro
DNF. Darko Ficko La Bicicletta/J Lindeberg
DNF. Martin Gilbert Équipe du Québec
DNF. Matt Guse Calyon pro cycling team
DNF. Thierry Laliberté Sportif Bromont
DNF. Jean-François Racine Garneau-Crocs-Suzano
DNF. Mathieu Roy Calyon pro cycling team
DNF. Maxime Vives Calyon pro cycling team
DNF. Ugo Lapierre 2peer.com
DNF. Jonathan Arseneault CIBC Wood-Gundy
DNF. Jean-Sebastien Beland Volkswagen
DNF. Zach Bell Symmetrics Cycling
DNF. Pierre Boilard 2peer.com
DNF. Eli Chiasson Atlantic Cycling Centre
DNF. G. Tommaso Cirella Hawaii-Imperia
DNF. Alexandre Cloutier Volkswagen
DNF. Matt Deluco Euro-sports.ca/Foodery
DNF. Luc Dionne CIBC Wood-Gundy
DNF. Chris Freeland La Bicicletta / J. Lindeberg
DNF. Dominic Hamel Garneau-Crocs-Suzano
DNF. Derrek Ivey Mazurcoaching.com
DNF. Bradley Kerr Team Saskatchewan
DNF. Matthew Knight Cycle Solutions/Angry Johnny’s
DNF. Jamie Lamb Atlantic Cycling Centre
DNF. Hugues Lapointe Bluberi-Martin Swiss
DNF. Philippe Leduc CIBC Wood-Gundy
DNF. Marco Li Cycle Solutions/Angry Johnny’s
DNF. Benoit Lussier CIBC Wood-Gundy
DNF. Benjamin Martel Cycles Performances Cinelume
DNF. Mark Pozniak Team Ontario
DNF. Sébastien Rousseau Marinoni-Cadence
DNF. Nathan Schnarr Waterloo Cycling Club/The Flyin
DNF. Jeff Sherstobitoff Symmetrics Cycling
DNF. Jamie Sparling Trek Red Truck P/B Mosaic Homes
DNF. Justin Steeds Aquila Racing/Racer Sportif
DNF. Tyler Trace Trek Red Truck P/B Mosaic Homes
DNF. Giovanni Traina Marinoni-Cadence
DNF. Nathan Underwood Team Saskatchewan/BCW
DNF. Pierre-Olivier Boily Sleeman Clear/Énergie-uota
DNF. Michael Bennett Euro-sports.ca/Foodery
DNF. Martin Picard 2peer.com
DNF. Mathew Bell Calyon pro cycling team
DNF. Andrew Bradbury Team Ontario
DNF. Kevin Hazzard JetFuel Coffee
DNF. Antoine Matteau Garneau-Crocs-Suzano
DNF. Vincent Quirion Garneau-Crocs-Suzano
DNF. Ben Rempel Team Saskatchewan
DNF. Ryan Anderson Symmetrics Cycling
DNF. Ryan Béliveau Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle
DNF. Guillaume Bilodeau Indépendant
DNF. Mathieu Boudier-Revéret Club Cycliste CGR
DNF. Bruno Bourassa Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle
DNF. Bryson Bowers Jet Fuel Coffee
DNF. Dave Brooks Team Saskatchewan
DNF. Charles Bryer Ciclo Werks Presents Tempo 88
DNF. Dominic Cantin 2peer.com
DNF. François Chabot Volkswagen
DNF. Christian Deshaies Volkswagen
DNF. Thomas Devisscher Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle
DNF. Marc Dugas Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle
DNF. Geoffroy Dussault Sports Bazar Inc
DNF. Steffan Elzinga Cyclingnews Jako
DNF. Kyle Fry Team Ontario
DNF. Sandy Fulton Eva-Devinci
DNF. Simon Gagnon-Brassard Eva-Devinci
DNF. Zack Garland Kona-Adobe
DNF. Shane Gill Atlantic Cycling Centre
DNF. Dominic Guiver Team Ultralink
DNF. Nic Hamilton Team Aviawest
DNF. Christopher Hillier Indépendant
DNF. Andrew Hunt Team RACE Pro
DNF. Maxime Joly-Smith 2peer.com
DNF. Stephen Keeping Bluberi-Martin Swiss
DNF. Louis-Charles Lacroix Ste-Foy-Qc Métro
DNF. James Larmer Sudbury Cycling Club
DNF. Nicolas Lefrançois CIBC Wood-Gundy
DNF. François-Charles Malo Volkswagen
DNF. David Maltais Eva-Devinci
DNF. Garrett Mc Leod Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle
DNF. Chris Mcgarity Team Saskatchewan
DNF. Stephen Meyer Team Ontario
DNF. Evan Mundy Team Ontario
DNF. Geoff O’toole Apogee-Kuota/Elicycle
DNF. Keir Plaice Team RACE Pro
DNF. Jonathan Prosser Team Ontario
DNF. Eric Robertson Team RACE Pro
DNF. Brian Robinson Team Alberta/ CMC/ Bow Cycle
DNF. Olivier Savaria 2peer.com
DNF. Joel Sidhu Team Ultralink
DNF. Spencer Smitheman Creusot Cyclisme
DNF. Duncan Sturz Atlantic Cycling Centre
DNF. Charles Thibault Eva-Devinci
DNF. Jean-Philippe Thibault-Roberge Rocky Mountain/Pro-Cycle
DNF. Brandon Throop Mazurcoaching.com
DNF. Kurtis Vallee Team Aviawest
DNF. Vincent Veilleux-Lessard 2peer.com
DNF. Jan Zak Mazurcoaching.com
DNS. Jim Tsilemos Ride With Rendall
DNS. Buck Miller Team RACE Pro
DNS. Devon Smibert Synergy Cycling Club
DNS. Paul Benson Alter Ego Sports/Manitoba
DNS. James James Kinesis UK
.