June 23, 2011 (Belfountain, ON) – The first national titles were handed out on Thursday at the 2011 Canadian Road Cycling Championships in rural Belfountain north of Toronto, as Clara Hughes (Equipe Du Quebec) dominated once again claiming the Elite women’s 21.67km Individual Time Trial title while Denise Ramsden (Juvederm-Specialized) took home U23 gold.
Hughes, who’s been on a winning streak since she announced her return to cycling last November, unleashed her championship form taking gold in a time of 30:25 with a 22-second margin over Tara Whitten (TIBCO/To the Top) in second with Rhae-Christie Shaw (Independent) in third. Hughes showed her strength on course by passing the rider that started two minutes ahead of her during the lap.
Fans and media were surprised when initial results indicated that BC’s Erinne Willock (TIBCO/To the Top) was the winner as Hughes was the clear favourite. A timing glitch caused the problem and it was soon corrected giving Hughes the title.
“At first I thought I was in second place, but the times were a little messed up. I was happy with my ride and now that I’ve won I’m even happier,” commented Hughes post-race about the confusion. Willock was actually 9th overall.
“It was a good time trial, certainly not my best. I crashed earlier this week training on the TT course and wasn’t even sure if I was going to race today, but I did a good job at conserving my energy,” Hughes continued.
“I didn’t think about it today – I said to myself ‘just do everything that you can’. That’s the time trial, it’s you against the clock, there is no hiding about the results. It’s pretty nice to win. It was my first race at Canadian Championships since coming back to cycling, since 2003. Today is a pretty special day.” Hughes has 18 national titles to her name.
Whitten was also happy with her race saying that she “put in a good effort” on what she described as a “great course”. She also said that she’s “excited for tomorrow’s road race,” admitting that she has only had the opportunity to drive the course at Rattlesnake Point.
The TT was fought over a 21.67km loop featuring a rectangular race course over rolling terrain with 80meters of vertical per lap. But it also had very long straight sections allowing riders to see their competition up ahead. With six corners over the entire distance, bike handling was not a huge factor. The Elite/U23 women completed one lap while the Elite/U23 men did two.
The weather cooperated for the women’s TT as overnight rain cleared giving way to a mix of sun and cloud as the course dried out. But mother nature did play a bit of a factor in the men’s race as a thunder shower poured down on the second wave of racers (see men’s report).
Defending champ Julie Beveridge (Vienne-Futurescope) came fourth with Sue Schlatter (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery) finishing in 5th. Former ITT champ Anne Samplonius (Now And Novaris For MS) was 6th followed by Ramsden from Yellowknife, NT, in 7th overall as the top U23 rider. Manitoba’s Leah Kirchmann took the second place on the U23 podium, while Quebec’s Virginie Gauthier was third.
The Road Nationals continue on Friday in Burlington with the women’s road race, starting at 6pm.
Full results HERE.