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Global Relay Canadian Road Nationals Preview + Rio 2016 Contenders for Women

by Peter Kraiker

June 24, 2016 (Ottawa, ON/Gatineau, QC) – The 2016 edition of the Global Relay Canadian Road National Championships kicks off with the Junior/U23/Elite women and Para road races on Sat., June 25 in Ottawa, ON. The following day Sun. June 26 sees the U23/Elite men contest for the fabled maple leaf jerseys.

A break in the action on June 27 allows riders and teams to catch their breath as the Road Nationals move to Gatineau, QC for the test of truth, individual time trial races, on Tues. June 28 with the final Criterium events in Aylmer, QC on Wed. June 29.

Gatineau GP podium (l-r) Numainville, Wells, Kirchmann  ©  Peter Kraiker

With Rio 2016 on the horizon the Road Nationals are full of anticipation as Team Canada’s Olympic squad will be announced during the Criterium races on June 29 with some athletes on hand for the presentation.

While unofficially the Rio 2016 spots are already finalized the Road Championships will serve as the backdrop for this important announcement with almost all of the top men and women in the country are competing. Mike Woods (Cannondale Pro Cycling) is one notable exception as the Ottawa native would love to be racing in front of his home crowd but he is still recovering from a broken hand during a bad crash in April at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Also absent is Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo).

Women Contenders
There will be a strong field challenging for the coveted jerseys in the women’s races that includes both the current top racers and younger challengers. The list starts with defending road champion Joelle Numainville (Cervélo-Bigla Pro Cycling) who finished second recently at the Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau Hydro Quebec race showing she has great form this year. Only a few days ago she won the Mankato Road Race on Stage 5 of the North Star GP in Minnesota.

Leah Kirchmann wins  ©  Cor Vos
Hot on her heels is Manitoba’s Leah Kirchmann racing with Team Liv-Plantur. She was on Numainville’s wheel at the line in Gatineau and is a threat in any race. The 2014 triple national champ, Kirchmann took her first European victory at this year’s Drentse Acht van Vesterveld. Both are former national TT champs as well.

Karol-Ann Canuel  ©  Peter Kraiker
Karol-ann Canuel riding for Dutch-based, Boels-Dolmans, is the defending TT national champ but has a strong road race pedigree as well. She has continued her 2015 Road Worlds TTT medal form with a 2nd in the Amgen Tour of California TTT plus a 3rd-place podium finish in the Chrono Gatineau.

Jasmin Glaesser (Can) wins women's RR.  ©  Ivan Rupes

Rally Cycling’s Jasmin Glaesser is a world-class trackie that’s delivering on the road as well with her first UCI-stage win at the Tour of the Gila to finish 3rd overall with the Best Young Rider jersey as well.  In 2015 she won the KOM crown at Philly and has a record four Pan Am Games medals for road and track. Enough said.

Tara Whitten  ©  Peter Kraiker

Veteran Tara Whitten (The Cylery Opus) is always a force to be reckoned with and has more top-level hardware than any of the contenders. She claimed 2nd recently at the Chrono Gatineau and last year finished second in the Pan Am Games ITT. With multiple World Track medals and Olympic bronze in the Team Pursuit Whitten is an athlete that can deliver when it counts.

Lex Albrecht  ©  Cor Vos
Wild cards with a shot at stealing a jersey at either the road or criterium races include Lex Albrecht (BePink) who’s making her mark in her first year on a European team. Trek Red Truck’s Denise Ramsden is a previous road race champion while Jamie Gilgen (Visit Dallas DNA) has been using her track form on the road to good success that includes a win at the Glencoe GP plus podiums at other races. Alison Jackson (Twenty16 – Ridebiker) from Vermilion, Alberta, is the defending Crit champ and is also an explosive rider with strong race-day potential.

Ramsden wins  ©  Scott Robarts
Gilgen at the GP Gatineau where she finished 8th  ©  Pasquale Stalteri
Ashley Barson (Rise Racing) is another wild card to watch out for. She’s coming into the Championships in the best form she’s ever had with strong results in the USA Crit Circuit that included Speedweek. Her top 20 performance in the Gatineau GP (19th overall and 8th Canadian across the line) suggests she will be in the mix for both the road race and the criterium. While not known as a time trialist, she will compete in that race as well. Then there are locals Katherine Maine (Rally) and Arianne Bonhomme (The Cylery Opus) along with many others ready to strutt their stuff.

Ashley Barson (Rise Racing) was top woman in the HOTN  ©  Peter Kraiker

Road to Rio
The Canadian women qualified for three spots in the road race and two for the time trial and Team Canada will come from the above list of very talented contenders. The short list will be made up from people capable of doing well in both the RR & TT and all of these racers will certainly do Canada proud.

Ramsden & Numanvaille both competed at the 2012 London Olympics on the road while Glaesser and Whitten have track experience and a bronze medal from the Team Pursuit at London 2012.

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