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Tim Hortons Road Nationals 2006 — Criterium Report

July 2, 2006 (Québec City) — The men’s criterium podium at the 2006 Tim Hortons National Road Cycling Championships seemed to be only one colour — Symmetrics yellow. It was a Symmetrics sweep with Cam Evans winning, Svein Tuft in second and Andrew Pinfold taking third.

The criterium races were held today in sunny Quebec City and B.C.’s Symmetrics Team was too strong, and too well organized for the rest of the competition. With 11 riders in the field, they rode a tactically perfect 56-lap race on fourth and final day of Canada’s Road Nationals.

The first attacks began right after the start on the technical course, where each lap ended on a false plateau after exiting a curve, all requiring skills and legs to win all the marbles. François Parisien (TIAA-CEFF) and Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics) were among the small group of 8-10 racers who animated the pack early on, with a 14-second lead after 10 laps. But the peloton, led by the Symmetrics, caught up to them rather easily.

Things got serious after 20 laps as Tuft and Evans saw the opening they wanted and took off leaving the pack behind in a matter of minutes. A 9-man chase group, led by Montreal’s Martin Gilbert (Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada) and Quebec City’s Phil Cortes (Garneau Optik) tried to chase down the break. In that group, well-placed and strategically slowing down the pace were two other Symmetrics, Andrew Pinfold and Jacob Erker. For the cycling purists in the crowd it was beautiful to see how the pack was controlled the rest of the the B.C.-based team.

Eventually the peloton was lapped on lap 38, and the chase group with about 10 laps to go. Then it was just a matter of team management to see who would win. Evans took the win with Tuft finishing second despite the disappointment he’d experienced placing second in the men’s elite road race. “As long as the winning jersey stays in the family, it’s okay by me,” said the 29-year-old veteran.

The only suspense was for 3rd place. At one point, everybody thought Cortes and Gilbert would square off at the finish, but Symmetrics had more bullets in their gun. And fire they did, as Andrew Pinfold bolted out of the chase group to take a 7-second lead. He was caught after two laps giving the impression that his tank was low.

“That wasn’t the case. I was really caught by Cortes,” said Pinfold, after the race. “I have a lot of respect for the Quebec riders, especially Martin Gilbert, who is a very good sprinter. It was gonna be him or me.”

The two sprinters got it on at the finish line, with Pinfold winning the bronze and completing the Symmetrics sweep. “It was very nice of Svein to give me the win,” said the 22-year-old Evans.

“All of the guys in the team are going to be back next year. These Road Championships were one of the high points of our season, and we left our egos in the team van,” Tuft added, demonstrating the true spirit of cycling as a team sport.

Elite Women’s Report
Sweet Revenge for Samplonius

In the Women’s crit, it was déjà-vu all over again, as the same protagonists form Saturday’s road race faced each other in the final breakaway. This time, instead of not being able to respond to Alexandra Wrubleski’s (SK, Team H&R Block) attack, Anne Samplonius (Team Biovail) gave her young opponent the final blow in the last 125 meters.

“I told myself I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice,” Samplonius said. “Yesterday, I attacked a little too late, and it cost me. But I know Alex will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. She’s gonna take experience, and she will develop the tactical skills a racer needs to go far in this business.”

Wrubleski was far from disappointed by her silver medal. “I had a great run overall at these Championships. I’m having a great season so far, thanks to my new coach, Paul Kelly, and thanks to the stiffer competition I have to face,” she commented.

Gina Grain (Colavita/Cooking Light) took the bronze over Amy Moore (T-Mobile) and Allison Testroete (Cyclemeisters).

Quebec Sweeps Junior Races

The Junior Men’s and U17 categories showed why Quebec is a powerhouse in cycling, as Simon Lambert-Lemay (André Cycles) won the Junior crit title, 5 secs. ahead of Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Volkswagen/Trek). They’ll have to keep an eye next year on this year’s U17 winner, Hugo Houle (Vélocité Drummond) who will become a Junior next season.

Results (brief)

Elite Men
1. Cam Evans (BC) Symmetrics
2. Svein Tuft (BC) Symmetrics
3. Andrew Pinfold (QC) Symmetrics

Elite Women
1. Anne Samplonius (QC) Team Biovail
2. Alexandra Wrubleski (SK) Team H&R Block
3. Gina Grain (BC) Colavita/Cooking Light

Junior Men
1. Simon Lambert Lemay (QC) André Cycles/IdCad
2. Guillaum Blais Dufour (QC) Équipe cycliste Volkswagen/Trek
3. David Bergeron (QC) Élicycle Sports-Experts

Under 17
1. Hugo Houle

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