Cy­clists win stage race in Ri­mouski

The Barrie Examiner - - SPORTS - ROB MEEDER CY­CLING SHORTS

The Cen­tu­rion Next Wave Cy­cling Team proved this past week­end that con­tin­u­ous hard work and prepa­ra­tion pays off big time.

Two years ago, the team stormed onto the na­tional youth cy­cling scene with a con­vinc­ing win by Gun­nar Holm­gren at Tour de la Releve in Ri­mouski, Que.

The five-day race is the pre­miere cy­cling event for youth cy­clists (un­der-17).

The fol­low­ing year, Tyler Clark rode to a third-place vic­tory. That year’s team gained huge ex­pe­ri­ence and would re­turn this year with three vet­eran rid­ers (Dy­lan Kerr, Colton Woods and Paul Mysko) hun­gry for an­other podium spot. Join­ing them would be rookie Will Smith.

All ath­letes are from the Bar­rieOril­lia area and have been train­ing hard for years with this race in mind. They would be rac­ing against 81 ath­letes on 21 teams from across Canada and the United States.

Know­ing the ge­og­ra­phy and race for­mat al­lowed them to hone their skills and tac­tics rid­ing closely as a team in the team time trial, against the wind in break­aways, with the tech­ni­cal skills of cri­terium rac­ing and with the raw power re­quired for long steady climbs and the in­di­vid­ual time trial.

The lo­cal hills of Oro-Me­donte have proven fruit­ful in the past for pro­duc­ing high-level cy­clists and would prove so once again, along with the team’s new train­ing base at Hard­wood Hills.

The team rode the first stage, a team time trial, ex­tremely well with the fastest time over­all.

On the fol­low­ing stage, a 48-kilo­me­tre road race, Kerr, Mysko and Woods fin­ished in sec­ond, fourth and sixth place. An un­timely punc­ture saw Smith drop down in the over­all clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

The third stage was the in­di­vid­ual time trial, the 15-km race against the clock.

Again, the men rode ex­tremely well with both Woods and Mysko crack­ing the top-10.

Woods fin­ished in 3rd place and Mysko in sev­enth place on the stage. The hard ef­forts over the three days were pay­ing off with both Woods and Mysko sit­ting in fourth place and sev­enth place in the over­all stand­ings, with Woods sit­ting a mere 49 sec­onds be­hind the yel­low jersey of the leader.

Kerr was just a few spots far­ther back in 16th over­all.

The fourth stage would prove piv­otal. This stage was a cri­terium, 35 laps of a 1-km down­town cir­cuit.

These races are fast and fu­ri­ous with bonuses awarded to rid­ers who sprint to the line dur­ing the race and at the fin­ish.

Rain-slicked roads did not help mat­ters. Mysko, Kerr and Woods would fin­ish safely in the pack and the over­all leader­board did not change with Woods con­tin­u­ing to sit in fourth-place over­all.

How­ever, Mysko would stamp his au­thor­ity on the race as the sprint cham­pion plac­ing sec­ond at the stage fin­ish while also win­ning one of the in­ter­me­di­ate sprints.

The bonus points saw him win the green jersey as the race’s sprint cham­pion.

Un­for­tu­nately, Kerr crashed on the fi­nal corner of the stage, tak­ing him out of the race and un­able to start the fi­nal stage.

Smith did an ex­cel­lent job con­trol­ling the pace of the group and fin­ished safely in the bunch.

The fi­nal stage was the hard­est of the five stages.

The town of Ri­mouski sits be­tween the St. Lawrence River and a moun­tain ridge. The climb to the top is known as Cathe­dral Hill, a 2.2-km steep climb that has be­come the defin­ing fea­ture ev­ery edi­tion of this race.

The 76-km stage goes up this hill four times and the rider who dom­i­nates on this hill wins the race. The men proved up to the chal­lenge and used ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to en­sure one of their rid­ers would fin­ish on the podium.

The race was off to a fast start on a beau­ti­ful sunny but windy day and rid­ers were dropped from the pelo­ton al­ready on the first time up Cathe­dral Hill.

A break­away rider from Team NCCH, Evan Rus­sell, soon was out in front.

By Lap 2, both Mysko and Woods along with two other Team NCCH rid­ers be­gan to close that gap, and were even­tu­ally suc­cess­ful.

In the process, many rid­ers in­clud­ing the over­all leader in the yel­low jersey found them­selves un­able to match the pace and be­gan to lose time.

By Lap 3, the lead group was down to three rid­ers: Woods, Giuseppe Carone (also of Team NCCH) and Rus­sell. The trio worked to­gether to build a 2:14 ad­van­tage over the shrink­ing pelo­ton.

On the fourth and fi­nal pass up Cathe­dral Hill, the trio shed­ded Rus­sell and once the re­main­ing two rid­ers made a west turn at the top of the ridge into a strong head­wind, Woods ac­cel­er­ated twice and dropped Carone.

Woods con­tin­ued alone for the last 10 kms of the race in­clud­ing an 83-kilo­me­tre-per­hour de­scent back down the moun­tain and go on to win the stage by 36 sec­onds over Carone and over a minute on Rus­sell and more than two min­utes on his re­main­ing ri­vals in the pelo­ton.

The ad­van­tage was more than enough to put Woods in the yel­low jersey and win the over­all ti­tle.

Mean­while, Mysko led the re­main­ing pelo­ton in and claimed fourth place on the stage se­cur­ing his green sprinter’s jersey.

Also rac­ing this year was the Cen­tu­rion Next Wave women’s team. Lo­cal Cen­tu­rion Next Wave rid­ers Dana Gil­li­gan and Kayla Mc­Kee were joined by rid­ers Abbey McGill from Ed­mon­ton and Is­abella Brook­shire from the United States.

The women started strong win­ning their Stage 1 team trial in con­vinc­ing fash­ion. The team con­tin­ued sub­se­quent stages plac­ing rid­ers con­sis­tently in the top 25 of each stage.

The women’s best fin­ish was Gil­li­gan’s third place in the Stage 3 in­di­vid­ual time trial.

How­ever, the cri­terium and fi­nal road race stage would prove dif­fi­cult. Gil­li­gan, who wore the yel­low jersey for three stages last year, man­aged a re­spectable eighth-place over­all, fol­lowed by Brook­shire in 11th, McGill in 14th and Mc­Kee in 16th.

These strong over­all fin­ishes were enough to win the over­all ju­nior women’s team ti­tle for Cen­tu­rion Next Wave, a re­peat of last year’s per­for­mance.

Coaches Kevin Simms and Rob Holm­gren couldn’t have been more pleased.

“We per­formed in­cred­i­bly well again this year, the third year in a row we have heard CNW over the loud speaker so reg­u­larly. The boys squad was su­per strong and amaz­ing to see them so dom­i­nant through­out the whole event,” Simms said.

The team is look­ing for­ward to fur­ther suc­cess at the up­com­ing Cen­tu­rion Blue Moun­tain event and lo­cal moun­tain bike races, but also the Cana­dian Na­tional Moun­tain Bike Cham­pi­onships next week in Al­berta and then the Moun­tain Bike World Cham­pi­onships in Aus­tralia and UCI Road Race World Cham­pi­onships in Nor­way, both in Septem­ber.

SUB­MIT­TED

Will Smith com­petes in the open­ing team time trial last week­end at Tour de la Releve in Ri­mouski, Que.

SUB­MIT­TED

Paul Mysko throws his bike across the line to fin­ish in sec­ond place in Stage 4 dur­ing last week­end’s race in Ri­mouski, Que.

SUB­MIT­TED

Colton Woods is shown in the yel­low jersey of the Tour de la Releve over­all win­ner and Paul Mysko in the tour’s best-sprinter green jersey.

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