Canada’s national development squad unfortunately had some disappointing
showings at the Tour Nord Isere, a three-day, four-stage event which ended
May 5, in France. None of the six Canadian starters finished the event,
which signified the end of the spring program for the espoirs.
Crashes,illnesses, flats and an inability to make time cuts meant there were no
Canadian remaining when the event concluded. Ryan Roth, Jean-Sebastien
Maheu, Cory Lange, Cory Jay, Chris Isaac and Ian Condron represented
Canada. The stages, which ranged in length from 80K to 168K, were mostly
ridden in cold and rainy conditions. For those who had never competed at
top-level European espoir races before, the trip was a harsh
but valuable initiation.
Meanwhile at other overseas events, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal beat a
200-rider field at the Paris-Mantes race, a UCI-sanctioned event. Among the
teams present was the dominant Vendee-U team, which serves as the feeder
squad for the Pro team Bonjour. This race was a noted pro event, but has
now become a prestigious race for top espoirs. Hesjedal won with a
convincing three-minute margin.
On April 28th Canada’s espoirs entered the Cote Picarde, part of
the Espoirs World Cup series. Hesjedal, who normally races on the pro MTB
circuit, proved to be an invaluable team leader. He was the top Canadian
finisher in 18th. Lange was the second-best Canuck in 44th. Other placings
were Roth in 73rd, Maheu in 78th, Isaac in 82nd and Jay in 117th. The races
may not have had some of the results that the Canadians hoped for, apart
from Hesjedahl’s victory and top placings, but still proved to be a good
learning experience for the season, and years, to come.