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Chrono Gatineau Report and PHOTOS

by Erik Lyman and Pasquale Stalteri

May 21, 2013 (Gatineau, Québec) – Bright clear skies and a light wind greeted 33 starters for the demanding and technical 18.6km Chrono Gatineau ITT celebrating its 4th year. With defending champ Clara Hughes now retired the door was open to a new champion and her former teammate was up to the challenge as Carmen Small (USA) Specialized-lululemon silenced all contenders with a final time of 24:51.80 and a 28s-margin over Canadian favourite Joelle Numainville (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). Tibco To the Top’s Chantal Blaak (Ned) took home the bronze another seven seconds behind.

As one of the few UCI 1.1-level women’s races in North America the popular event once again featured some of the world’s top female road cyclists including world track champ (Scratch Race), Katarzyna Pawlowska (Pol) GSD Gestion Kallisto Specialized p/b Mazda. But it was not Pawlowska’s day as she was not feeling well, suffering a crash to end up 15th on the day.

Pawlowska’s teammate Alizee Brien (QC) threw down the first gauntlet posting the best time of 26:11.56 with about one third of the field having completed the course. The promising young rider from Quebec showed her potential against some of the best time trial specialists in the world ending up 12th. GSD Gestion Kallisto’s team director, Gerard Penarroya, was very pleased with Brien’s performance underlining how young she is and her great potential down the road.

Brien’s turn in the hot seat was short-lived as Blaak from The Netherlands shattered the course in 25:27.35 and set the bar high for all who followed. In fact her time held until the final wave of riders (there were three waves in total).

Small was the fourth last rider and delivered a sub-25min ride that forced the hand of the final three contestants but none could match her speed with Numainville coming the closest at 28s behind.

Still it was an exciting finale prompting race commentator, Randy Ferguson, to announce, “It’s been such a tight and exciting race that even at the intermediate point, at the end of the third wave, there was still only a 7-second gap between Small, Numainville and Blaak… all in contention for the win.”

Numainville who’s renowned for her sprinting prowess showed how motivated she was to race in her own backyard by posting an amazing result that should provide her with full confidence for the remainder of the season – two podiums in as many races.

“I started the race without any pressure and wanted to go all out to test myself. But then, when I realized at half point that I was in third position, it gave me an extra boost to push even harder. In the end, I could not be any happier and more exhausted. What a great weekend of racing for our team,” said the silver medalist. Her Optum team put four riders in the top 10.

The Chrono capped a great Gatineau festival of racing that is becoming a tradition on the Canadian calendar. “Chapeau” to the race organizers, the race officials, the volunteers, the athletes and the fans – full results.

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