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Bruno Langlois Claims Elite Men’s Title at 2016 Road Nationals – Perry Defends U23 Jersey + PHOTOS

by Alan Dempsey

June 26, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – No one could have predicted the outcome but Bruno Langlois of Matane, Quebec, 37, finally won the 180km Elite Men’s national road race title in Ottawa on Sunday at the 2016 Global Relay Canadian Road Championships p/b Lexus, after years of coming close.

Bruno Langlois finally wins Elite men's national title  ©  Ivan Rupes

Local favourite Benjamin Perry (ON) Silber Pro Cycling from St. Catharines, ON, finished second and defended his U23 title in the process while the final podium spot went to BC’s Will Routley (Rally Cycling), a former road champ himself from 2010.

A fateful crash marred the finish of the four leaders as Matteo Dal-Cin (ON) Silber Pro Cycling, who was in front at time, went down in the final corner taking out Perry and Routley as well. Langlois, who was behind, was able to avoid the crash and soloed to victory – watch the crash here.

Perry at the finish  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

The four had broken away from a group of 10 leaders late in the race that had several surprises as there were only 18 finishers out of 141 starters, due to the heat and intense pace. In an unusual move the main field, including many heavy hitters, was pulled from the race on the 14th lap.

(l-r) Roth, Houle, Tuft - call ups  ©  Ivan Rupes

With Hugo Houle (AG2R), Svein Tuft (Orica GreenEdge), and a plethora of other high calibre riders in the field, it was set to be a grand showdown. After a 10-minute delay, under a scorching sun of 31 degrees, the 18-lap race began and the attacks came early.

Ryan Roth  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

Many favoured Silber for the win with Ryan Roth, a former national champ, Dal-Cin, recent winner of the Redlands Classic, and Perry, the defending U23 champ, supported by the largest team in the field. The Elite women’s Cyclery-Opus team had shown the previous day that the largest team in the field had an advantage on the tough circuit.

Britton at front of break with Dal Cin behind  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

The first few laps started fast but manageable as a 7-rider break quickly formed on the first lap initiated by Silber, Garneau, and Rally, and opened up a respectable gap on the field. Going through the tight corners at Island Park and Tunney’s Pasture made it clear that the 140+ peloton would be challenged to stay together when the attacks started.

Break working well  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

Despite the presence of Dal-Cin and Rob Britton (Rally) the pack didn’t seem eager to chase. The presence of Houle and Tuft on the front seemed to give the pack a sense of confidence believing these two WorldTour riders would not allow the break to do any serious damage.

Tuft and Houle would soon pick up the pace  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

As the break began to extend its lead, Tuft and Houle banded together in effort that would initially crush the peloton splitting it into several small packs. A group of 30 riders remained with them as they continued their relentless pursuit of the break with the rest of field straggling behind or dropping out entirely.

Parkway  ©  Ivan Rupes
Pack  ©  Ivan Rupes
The relentless pace set by Houle and Tuft’s effort saw their pack dwindle down to a 12-rider chase group as two more chasing groups formed behind them. It looked like their efforts might pay off to take down the leaders as a chase group of about 10 riders formed between the break and the peloton.

Dal Cin, Routley and Britton  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

Perry and Olivier Brisebois (Garneau Quebecor) managed to get away from that chase group before it was swallowed up and join the break. Another attack came from Nicolas Masbourian (Silber), Routley and Langlois who would eventually bridge across and form the final 10 riders at the front from which the final selection would come.

Langlois, Routley, Masbourian bridge  ©  Pasquale Stalteri
Tuft trying to rally the troops  ©  Pasquale Stalteri
Hugo Houle  ©  Pasquale Stalteri
Houle and Tuft  ©  Pasquale Stalteri
Eventually Tuft and Houle relinquished the front and turned the chase over to other riders in the pack as the break continued to work well and the disorganized pack was losing ground.

(l-r) Veal, Bradford and Merritt  ©  Pasquale Stalteri
Veal  ©  Ivan Rupes
As the peloton set out on the 13th lap the organizers warned that the entire pack would be pulled if lapped by the break. This spurred some riders to attack the peloton. Matt Surch of Tekne Cycling led one group while Cameron McPhaden lead a two-man group just behind. With Ed Veal, Gaelen Merritt and small group already up the road, this left just under 30 riders on the course when the main field was finally lapped and pulled.

Langlois and Britton leading the break  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

In what was starting to look like a “Last Man Standing” race the break ramped up its pace. With the three laps remaining Vandale and Samuel were dropped as first Britton attacked followed by Langlois. The attrition was in the final stages as the rest of the 10-rider group was shed leaving Perry, Dal-Cin, Langlois, and Routley to battle it out.

The last lap saw Dal-Cin and Perry working hard together and in the stretch coming into the final turn Langlois was the fourth rider in the group with a gap that proved decisive as Dal-Cin slid out on the final corner and Routley and Perry were caught up as well, allowing Langlois to breeze by unscathed and take the win.

Elite Men's Podium (l-r) Perry 2nd, Langlois 1st, Routley 3rd  ©  Ivan Rupes

“At the end I think the other guys went too fast into the last corner and unfortunately they crashed, so I was able to come around,” commented Langlois who has seen many final corners in his day. The 6-rider break at last week’s Preston Street Crtierium suffered a similar fate.

“I think I’ve done all the top ten places except the win,” added Langlois. “Today I raced from the front, because on this course it was one where you had to gamble. I tried to attack at the end because I don’t have a good sprint, but the others guys were too strong. At the end I think the others guys went too fast into the last corner and unfortunately they crashed, so I was able to come around. Nationals is always a game of poker, especially on a course like this. It’s my best result; to be champion of your country. Everybody wants this, and I’ve been chasing it for a long time.”

Routley at the finish  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

Perry was the first to get back on the bike and crossed the line second taking silver in the Elite race and first in the U23 category. Routley in a test of courage that stole the show ran his bike down the 150m finishing stretch to the applause and cheers of the crowd to take the 3rd spot on the podium.

Dal Cin tough day  ©  Ivan Rupes
Several riders from the chase group would cross before Dal-Cin was able to get back on his bike. He took the brunt of the impact during the crash and was clearly in pain as he crossed the line but will be ok according to the latest reports following a visit to the hospital.

U23 Men's podium (l-r) Brisebois 2nd, Perry 1st, Masbourian 3rd  ©  Ivan Rupes
Perry and family at the finish  ©  Alan Dempsey
Crashes were abundant in the final lap with several of the remaining riders crossing with torn kits and battered bodies but Veal and Merritt hung on to cross the line rounding out the last of the 18 riders to finish the race.

Bruno Langlois wins  ©  Pasquale Stalteri

It was a somewhat sombre finish to a tough day that saw some daring and bold moves by some of the best riders in Canada. Langlois, who is in the twilight of his career, finally made it happen. “Everybody wants this, and I’ve been chasing it for a long time,” he concluded. If he decides to retire this season, as some have speculated, this will certainly be a great way to end a lucrative career.

Results here.

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