The next day our crew of Cadet's, Junior's, Aussie's, and two racers arrived at our little private cottage on a small lake just outside of Thetford Mines. A sweet pad although in classic fashion we had a about 2x the people it was intended for but we made due as always.
I received a Argon 18 ITT bike from NCCH and set it up to me as best I could. I figured I could do a good ride as I had done the math that I need to average 1km/h more that last year for 10 minutes longer of riding to equal the ride of last year's best guy who was still U23 eligible. The tests have shown I am obviously at a way higher level then last year so I hit the start gate maybe a little too optimistic. What I forgot to add to my maths was that I had done maybe 10 rides on my ITT bike since the World Championships and by my bike I mean the one that was still hanging up and coated in dust in a Belgian basement 10,000km+ away. Coach Rick said my ride in the ITT looked more or less perfect from a technical perspective. This means I took the corners hard, kept my head down, stayed as aero as possible, used the disc wheel with the cross winds, and paced myself well. This does not make up for my lack of practise in the race of truth discipline. No legs, no result. If I thought any different I would sound like an unsuccessful Allen Iverson. I ended up in 17th place, more than 5 minutes behind Elite Champion Curtis Dearden. I wish I could say that it was good despite the fact I had about 0 prep for it but there is really no knowing. Part of me wishes I would have skipped it to save my confidence a bit for the road race.
After a nice recovery day of fishing, paddle boating, and campfires in classic Canadian fashion I was ready for the road race. 190km that I was going to approach conservatively. I did so however a little too much. We rode out for the first 6km neutral as there was gravel to cross and of course just my luck I flatted my only 11 speed wheel and was forced to ride a 10 speed. This pretty much put me down to 6 speeds for the rest of the race as nothing ran smoothly and I had to grind a lot of climbs. In the early stages of the race the pace was high but I was capable of staying at the front and following some stuff but never really committing to the effort. To be honest the road was so horrible I was totally frustrated. You couldn't look to see if someone was attacking because every 2 feet there was a Marianas trench sized pot hole to dodge and of course half the pack flatted or crashed as someone swerved in front of them (not the Kanye West swerve) in the opening stages. We got to the laps and the World Tour guys who had missed the break, probably due to flat or crash, made the race hard. It was splitting hard and for a moment I was the best placed first year but then Nigel and Brandon came up in the cross wind section after being stuck behind on the climb with some others and my guaranteed top 5 turned into a top 9 (top 5 gets government funding). How the race stood now was I was in a group of 10 2.5 minutes behind the lead 12 and we were hardly getting closer and we weren't crushing it as a group as Parisien and Rollin were finding it too easy being in a whole other class then most of us. Then we weren't expecting it Rolling hit it and Parisien followed and some Garneau guys were in the wheel too. The half of our group behind all looked to the Jelly Belly pro Nic Hamilton to do something as we rode hard to close the small gap but he just gave up and got off at the side of the road right there, I was pretty shocked with that. Our pursuit was in vain when matched to the power that lay ahead and a few guys cracked until it was just Nig, Brandon, hilarious MTB'er Antoine Caron and myself . After a while we saw a group of 40 or so coming up on us and we relaxed. Antoine and I talked about Europe and out of the blue in his perfect English (that is still funny with the Quebec accent) asked me if he had chocolate on his face, a nice laugh mid race.
|Antoine post race|
Our group of 40 knew that although there were tonnes of DNF's behind we were more or less the laughing group as we rolled to the finish. Nig and Adam de Vos soon let it be know that they were in collusion and working together although on opposite teams. Nothing wrong with that, but, but, I did have something wrong with what came next. Nigel picked a good time to go and got a little gap and I couldn't rely much on my teammate Brandon for help as he said he was too cracked to pull so my good chocolate faced dirt racing friend helped me out. Adam then came in and started messing up the chase and blocking anyone from helping as well as shutting down my bridge attempts. I like Adam and Nigel but to collude, block, suck wheel, sand bag, AND ALL FOR 22nd PLACE is just not cool. I tried a little swerve move to intimidate Adam (still not the Kanye West swerve) that I learned from Pierrick Naud that spring in Belgium but it didn't work. Adam then went late to sweep up the prestigious 23rd and I felt like I spent the last 40km at the head and did nothing for myself. I was happy to see that Adam's, Nigel's and my antics had wrecked the group as people started coming by me in the charge to the line. I hopped in the line of riders and still managed 4th in our little pack sprint beating some sprint specialists who had been in the wheels the last hour which I took some positives out of that. I took a lot of pleasure coming around Adam in the last 50m of the race. I was happy with my performance but not with the result. Adam, Nigel and I all proved that we were strong enough to be in that early lead group we just didn't get there. We will all be teaming up though with team Canada in Nice in September to get back the results we missed, at the Francophone Games. Matteo Dal-Cin will be there too.
In the Crit the next day I went in with sore legs as did most. Steep climb, weird corner with an concrete island in it that had traffic on the far side of it and just full gas at all times. Standard racing for the first while suffering in the wheels and following everything I could and soon enough more than half the field was out and a few real guys were up on our sort of peleton 20 odd seconds behind. I went with 800m to go and there was some hesitation behind, sadly though they whipped it up and caught a dying Ben just before the line in time enough for 4 guys to pass me. Adam was one of the guys who passed me, getting his revenge from the day before.
Big thanks of course to everyone that helped from NCCH, Team Ontario and my Family that came to watch. Pitching in and doing the little things makes an athlete's life be stress free and making racing that much easier.
|A great Nationals for team O! (aka the trillies)|
With my first post-junior nationals in the books I am happy how I compared leg wise to the big guns and I know I will come in a lot more confident and daring next year, not sure yet whether or not I will come in with ITT shape, that is still to be decided.
Went home after the Championships to visit with all my friends and family and between hitting a concert, the casino, and just mossin' around St.Catharines there was never a dull moment. Now back to Belgium until mid September when I will come home for the Fall/Winter and go to University at Brock.