May 19, 2013

GP Cycliste Gatineau 2013

I raced the 4th edition of the UCI 1.1 Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau with the Canadian National Cycling Team.  Our roster was cut a little short with one athlete injured, and another one with a last minute race calendar modification that had her racing overseas.

Denise Kelly, Candice Vermuelen, Véronique Labonté, Kinley Gibson, Véronique Fortin, Lex Albrecht
I raced with:
Véronique Fortin (2011 Canadian Road Cycling Champion)
Véronique Labonté (my teammate from 2011)
Kinley Gibson (a second year junior, super strong track racer, and great hotel roommate)
Candice Vermuelen (track specialist who went on to win a race the next day in Niagra Falls. What an athlete).

The 12 lap race (122 km) started out at a slower pace than in previous years.  A few riders attempted to throw some attacks, but all attempts of creating a break were smouldered.  At one point Claudia Haussler (TIBCO) attacked on an uphill and I jumped on her wheel, thinking it might be a move that could stay away for awhile at least.  The two of us were reeled back within a kilometer.  But by the 6th lap, Steph Roorda (Specialized-GSD Gestion) attacked and escaped from the peloton.  I waited until a nice little kicker came up in the course and gunned it.  I got away from the pack and rode until I caught up with Steph just before the feedzone.  We worked together to stay away for another 3 laps.  Suddenly I heard ..."Lex.  LEX!"  Music to my ears.  I glanced behind me and it was my teammate Véro Fortin bridging up to us.

The three of us worked hard in hopes of staying away until the end.  Our team director, Denise Kelly drove up alongside us and handed me a delicious Coke.  I hate Coke.  Except in the middle of a race.  Then it's DARN good.  But with just 1 lap left to go, TIBCO and Optum managed to reel us in. This was was perfect for them; Both had a team full of sprinters and great leadout riders.  It was also probably to their advantage to have the most teammates together up there to drill the pace and set up the win for their final sprinter before the finish line.  In the end, Shelly Olds from TIBCO took home the victory.

So, hey, we knew we had little chance to win out of a bunch sprint.  However, we did a decent job of making our plan of a break work.  I wanted the Maple Leaf on the first step of the podium, regardless of who was wearing it.  "Close, but no cigar" (the big, fat, stinky kind- why not?) is a lot more satisfying than sitting around in the peloton and not risking anything.

I think we would have needed an additional rider from another strong team there with us in that break...but that's not what they wanted.  Bike racing is all about pedalling hard and lots of strategy.

ONE thing that I have to mention about the Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau is that the spectators are awesome.  I heard my name yelled out so many times around the course! And, I was thrilled to see the plethora of people who came to watch the show.   

This is probably the coolest thing that I saw all day though (it definitey added a few extra watts to my pedal stroke in the breakaway, each time I rode past!):
Thanks W. Saunders for getting a photo of this sign for me, and thanks to the girls who made it! WOW! :)


  1. I was at the Gatineau race Saturday and Sunday and saw you both days. I was pretty impressed by your piece of work in the breakaway Saturday. When someone legs are sweating and it is only 20 o C, you know she puts a lottttttttttt of Watts on the pedals and she wants to win.

    I even got a little souvenir from you, your water bottle. I happened to be sitting close to its landing point ……. To my absolute pleasure

    Hope you’ll be back next year


  2. I was there with my wife to practice our photo skills and were absolutely fascinated by the performance you ladies gave us. I am lucky enough to have a few shots of your fulfillments Mrs Albrecht. Here is one of them during the GP: You have all the reasons to be proud of your achievements. -joc