Canada’s Miller Wins Gold Downhill Worlds
Guillaume Boivin led the Canadian charge in the Elite men’s
267.5km road race, finishing 35th at the conclusion of the 2017
Road World Championships.
The finale featured a historic result when Peter Sagan (SLK) won his third consecutive title, setting a record as he edged out Norwegian star Alexander Kristoff at the line in a photo finish, with Michael Matthews (AUS) taking third.
“It was a pretty hard race,” admitted Boivin, “a hard tempo all day on a very technical circuit. It was just a race of elimination. Thanks to Antoine and Hugo, in the final three laps they helped me move forward. I wasn’t missing much to make the split of the final climb, just 1% maybe . . . I was right there, so it was heartbreaking not to make it. But at the same time, it is probably one of the best World Championships we have done with this group, so I think we can build some confidence and maybe next year we can be there at the end.”
Fellow Canadians Houle and Antoine Duchesne of Saguenay, Que. finished 81st and 120th respectively, working hard for Boivin throughout the race to set him up for the final push to contend at the finish.
The tough challenging course was a race of attrition, with 60+ riders abandoning, but the Canadian trio was there until the end, as Boivin just missed the final split of 25-30 riders the last time up the Salmon Hill climb when Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) attacked, taking Giovanni Moscon (ITA) with him.
Alaphilippe tried to go it alone, but the pack caught him before the finish, setting up a bunch sprint. Kristoff looked strong leading the field sprint, but Sagan came around and caught him in a perfectly timed photo finish at the line for the historic hat-trick victory.
“I think for the most part it went to plan,” said Kevin Field, Road Team manager, “and I was really happy with how the guys rode. We realized after a few races that the course is a lot more difficult than we expected coming in, and to have our three guys right up there on the last lap, that’s an impressive ride for us. Guillaume was very, very close, and that’s a really good performance for our guys.”
“Reflecting on the Elite men and women, we have all the bases covered, I think, to prepare our riders for Road Worlds. The programs they have are obviously through their trade teams, but we had good team cohesiveness and tactics. For the junior and Under-23 categories to really be competitive, we would need to step up our programs considerably through training camps and racing in Europe,” said Jacques Landry, Chief Technical Officer at Cycling Canada.
“We have some exceptions, like Simone Boilard [eighth, junior women’s road race], but we need to be developing more riders like Simone, and not counting on phenoms just showing up. I do strongly believe that the Track Endurance program is the way to get things going to fast-track these athletes into the road scene; we see it through other countries such as Great Britain and Australia. There’s some work to do, but we have a lot of talent and we just need to find the resources and the most efficient pathway to develop these athletes properly.”
Guillaume Boivin led the Canadian charge
in the Elite men’s 267.5km road race,
Peter Sagan won a historic third consecutive Elite men’s road race world title title; (l-r): Kristoff, Sagan, Matthews