Feisty local race gives Michael Woods skills for the Giro d’italia
“Mike was a very effective and selfless teammate today,” said Jonathan Vaughters. The ceo of Slipstream Sports, the organization behind Team Cannondale-drapac, was speaking about Michael Woods after Stage 17 of the Giro d’italia. With strength and tactical savvy, the Ottawa native closed down attacks from the chase group late in the stage, which helped his teammate Pierre Rolland take the win. “Without Woods’s intelligence and sacrifice, there would be no win,” Vaughters added.
Later, Woods credited a local race for giving him the skills he needed during that stage. “There’s a local Tuesday night race, every two weeks, that’s a loop in Gatineau Park,” he said. “There are people attacking each other from gun to tape. That’s basically what happened on Stage 17. It wasn’t a controlled peloton, like you usually see with teams like Sky or Movistar at the front. From that big breakaway I was in, we just attacked each other. I felt like I was at a bit of an advantage in that situation.”
“A lot of the guys I race against were so good at such an early age that they get on these Worldtour teams pretty fast. Then, it’s almost like they neglect that attack-heavy style of racing because it’s not really part of a Worldtour rider’s repertoire. But that style of racing, I was even doing it on Optum two years ago, so I was still able to tap into that skill set,” he said, referring to his time on the North American continental team, Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies.
“What those local races don’t prepare you for is a stage that is 219 km long and follows a day where you do the Stelvio twice and the Mortirolo before that,” Woods added.
Books and bikes meet on the Reading Line
At a cycling advocacy group’s meeting in Toronto, Janet Joy Wilson and Amanda Lewis recognized one another. They both worked at Penguin Random House Canada at the time, but in different departments. They learned, at that meeting, that not only were they both passionate about books, but bikes as well. In 2014, they started the Reading Line, an annual event in Ontario’s capital that mixes riding with literature. The inaugural ride focused on the Green Line, a series of green spaces that follow a hydro corridor that some advocates would like to see turned into a linear park like New York’s High Line. By riding through this area, the organizers wanted to draw attention to the space and the cycling infrastructure connected to it, but in a fun way that wasn’t heavy handed, There were readings by novelists and opportunities to chat, and even shop as the pace was leisurely.
“We’re planting words in new locations,” said Wilson about the series’s rides. “You get the opportunity not just to hear the authors read from or talk about their books, but you can ride alongside them and have further conversations.”
In August 2017, the ride will start at the Children’s Peace Theatre in the east of the city and then connect with the Don River. Adwoa Badoe, a children’s author and storyteller based in Guelph, Ont., will kick things off before the riders roll out.
Leah Kirchmann supports, then leads and wins
“Finally my experience paid off in the race,” Leah Kirchmann said with a hint of irony. It was a little more than a week after she’d won the Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau road race, an event she’d participated in each year since it debuted in 2010. This year, she was part of a national squad made up of riders from different teams and directed by Kevin Field of Cycling Canada. It wasn’t just Kirchmann’s experience at Gatineau that helped her win. This past spring, the Dundas, Ont.-based rider, whose professional squad is Team Sunweb, played a support role in races such as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders. It was in contrast to 2016,
when she was able to look for opportunities for herself. “I enjoy taking on different roles within the team,” she said. “I find that playing an important part in a support role can help me be a better leader when it is my chance to go for a result. At Gatineau, I was able to bring in lessons from this past spring, especially heading into the sprint and giving good directions for where I would like to be and how the other girls could lead me out in the best way possible.”
Kirchmann’s national squad teammate Kristi Lay was i nstrumental in the lead-out and finished in second place. Other members of the team helped bring Kirchmann back to the bunch after the designated sprinter stuffed a mechanical earlier in the race. “If we can continue to work this well as a national team,” Kirchmann said, “then I think it can translate, in the future, to races like the world championships and the Olympics, those events where new teammates need to come together for the best results.”— MP
The Reading Line
Michael Woods at the 2017 Giro d’italia