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Elite 1&2 Men’s Ontario Road Championships Report + MORE PHOTOS

by Gaelen Merritt

June 05, 2017 (Hawkesville, ON) – We received the following report from the Elite 1&2 men’s race at the 2017 Ontario Road Championships this past weekend along with a mix photos from all races in the gallery that follows. Congrats to all winners and podium finishers.

The Ontario provincial road race championships were held on Sunday, June 4 in the small Mennonite town of Hawkesville, about 15 km northwest of Waterloo. The course consisted of a punchy and windswept 13.6 km circuit of variable-quality pavement around a picturesque reach of the Conestogo River. Forecasted rain held off for the Elite men’s race which meant humidity and wind were the battle elements of the day.

Hawksville residents came to watch once the sun came out  ©  Peter Kraiker
Of the 45 riders on the Elite men’s start line only 25 would successfully complete the 13-lap, 165 km distance. Racing was fast from the gun, with Toronto Hustle fielding a large and strong squad; they aimed to stack a strong break with numbers in their favour. The key split occurred after approximately 45 minutes of racing with a strong group of ~15 riders (four Toronto Hustle riders among them) separating themselves from the field.

Toronto Hustle put four riders in the elite men's break  ©  Peter Kraiker
This group of ~15 contained race favourite Ryan Roth (Silber Pro Cycling) and defending champ Jeff Schiller (To Wheels), who also had teammate Andrew House in the move with him as well. Also in the break were three U23 riders, Trevor O’Donnell (Toronto Hustle), Simon Fothergill (Ascent Cycling) and Martin Rupes (NCCH). Gaelen Merritt (Wheels of Bloor/Autostyle Collision and also your author) barely managed to bridge across solo and latch onto the split as it was forming.

A study in contrasts  ©  Peter Kraiker

Once everyone in this group took stock of the situation, an unholy alliance became the theme of the day – riders would work in the move only if all Toronto Hustle riders also worked. The unholy alliance surprisingly held for most of the race until Hustle began attacking the group with around 45 km to go.

Attacks, counters, uneasy rotations and continuously shifting alliances then ensued for the remainder of the contest. This uneven pace in the race endgame dropped many riders from the break as the heat, wind and distance also took its toll.

One of several fast descents to the river valley  ©  Peter Kraiker
With ~20 km/1.5 laps remaining, Yuri Hrycaj (Toronto Hustle) bravely shot off the front and what remained of the break looked at each other. This allowed Yuri a ~30-second leash. House lumbered to the front and gave his all for the sake of his teammate, defending champion and ace sprinter Jeff Schiller, but it was clear House was out of gas.

Schiller reluctantly took up the chase but within seconds of Schiller being on the front Roth unleashed a blistering attack up a slight rise into a block headwind. Merritt was the only one able to cover this attack and hung on for dear life as Roth did the work to bridge across the 30-second gap to Hrycaj in the span of just 2.5 km

Larbi Benhabib (Occto Cycling) leading the chase  ©  Peter Kraiker
The final selection of three was thus formed with 16 km remaining as the U23s eyed each other and the remaining Elites found reasons not to chase, which at this point were only Kyle Boorsma (Toronto Hustle – had a teammate up the road in Yuri), Dan Doddy (hesitant to pull Schiller to the line), and Schiller himself (who was running out of gas).

On the final lap Roth clinically erased of any illusions Merritt and Hrycaj had of winning, as he was clearly on another level, doing 90% of the work before disposing of them the final time up the Hawkesville Hill with 3km to go.

Ryan Roth (Silber Pro Cycling) claimed the solo win after a last lap attack  ©  Peter Kraiker
Hrycaj and Merritt attempted to chase together on the ensuing downhill but had been soundly beaten both in body and in mind as they watched Roth solo away to victory. Merritt opened up the sprint for 2nd early and got a quick gap on Hrycaj, which earned him the silver medal. Approximately a minute and a half later, Trevor O’Donnell won the sprint for the U23 title, with Fothergill taking 2nd and Rupes 3rd.

Elite 1&2 Men's Podium (l-r) Merritt 2nd, Roth 1st, Hrycaj 3rd  ©  Peter Kraiker

Overall a fine day of racing put on by Cycle Waterloo organizers Blake Ellis and Malcolm Steven, and another well-earned provincial title for Roth of Silber Pro Cycling. The strongest and smartest rider won, which is exactly as the provincial championships should be.

Full results here.

Rise Racing's Jamie Gilgen, Ashley Barson and Ruby West setting pace  ©  Peter Kraiker
Ethan Sittlington (NCCH Elite) won the junior race  ©  Peter Kraiker
Noah Simms (Toronto Hustle), Gunnar Holmgren (Centurion Next Wave) and Ronan Johnson (NCCH Elite) lead the chase  ©  Peter Kraiker
Rise Racing's West and Cartmill captured both jerseys on offer  ©  Ashley Barson
The feed zone  ©  Peter Kraiker

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