June 25, 2009 (Beauce, QC) – The 2009 Road Nationals begin on Friday, June 26 with the Elite/U23 ITT competition and we contacted veteran roadie, Dominique Perras, to review the players and make some predictions for each of the events. Perras has been on the podium at the Road Nationals himself so he knows what it takes. Read on to see who he thinks will podium in Perras’ Predictions.
It’s always extremely hard to play the prediction game for a single-day race, so hopefully none of the parties involved will take my predictions too personally, and likely I’ll be wrong more often than I’m right.
For the elite men’s ITT at least, it is pretty straight forward to suggest who will win. If Svein Tuft is anywhere near his best form, then it should only be a formality. Zach Bell is his closest competitor, and likely Christian Meier and Ryan Roth fighting for 3rd. As for the women’s ITT the top spot goes to Tour de PEI winner, Tara Whitten, as the big favourite.
In the U23 race there should be more of a challenge although Ryan Anderson looks to have an edge after claiming 4th in the ITT at the Nations Cup. Quebec’s David Veilleux is a bit of a question mark as he hasn’t been able to show the same level of form as last year just yet, although this week could mark his “comeback”. Then I see David Boily who was 9th in the ITT at Nations cup and who won the Quebec team Canada Games selection ITT last week, along with Matt Bell, who did well at the Beauce ITT, fighting for a podium spot.
The women’s road race winner on Saturday is hard to call. I remember how it panned out on easier courses in Woodstock or Peterborough, when the field ended in a bunch sprint. If that’s the case, then the likes of Gina Grain, Jenny Trew or Joelle Numainville could be fighting it out at the front for the win. If turns out to be an aggressive race with many attacks, then the cards could play out differently and someone like Erin Willock may take it as she’s a strong rider and has always been a smart opportunist. In the U23 RR look for Joelle Numainville to win.
The men’s road race on Sunday should be really interesting although I don’t think the course is as hard as usual for a National Championship circuit (or any race in Beauce). This will have to be taken into consideration in using this race as part of the Road World’s selection, as the circuit in Mendrisio is extremely hard. But no matter what course, the nationals are always an extremely aggressive race, and it will surely not be a bunch sprint for the men’s title.
With a rolling circuit, you look first at who are the fastest guys in the field: the main three are Andrew Pinfold, Keven Lacombe and Charles Dionne. Anyone seriously trying to win and knows tactics 101 must avoid letting these guys get up the road unless they’re going to be happy with 2nd. For anyone who sprints really well, an easy course makes their life harder as no one wants to break away with them. Just ask Gord Fraser as he only managed to win on a hilly course at Kamloops. I think a similar pattern will apply to the two ProTour riders in the peloton, Meier and Tuft, who will be heavily marked and the field won’t give them an inch.
It’s very likely that a break of about 10 riders will get up the road during the first 50km or so. A few guys will get dropped and a few guys will manage to bridge to the leaders including several favourites and other good, but not as strongly marked riders, such as Derrick St. John. Planet Energy adds the main “team” factor to consider in the race, so it will be interesting how they play their cards. But their main rider, FranÃ§ois Parisien, has been having health problems lately and has not been at his best.
My pick to win the Elite men’s race is Cam Evans, ahead of Will Routley and St. John and/or Roth. Evans is a former Canadian road champ, and is always clever enough to get in the right moves, has good kick, and overall is a huge talent. At the Tour de Beauce, despite not having his best form, he was in the right moves three days in a row.
In the Espoirs race the two men to beat and to watch are surely Anderson and Veilleux, but considering they are racing with the elite men, a crafty rider who can tag on to the right “train” can surely make a good advantage stick.