Stevens-The Cyclery sweep podium in sprint championship

Emily Flynn, Annie Foreman-Mackey and Ellen Watters on the sprint challenge podium.
Emily Flynn, Annie Foreman-Mackey and Ellen Watters on the sprint challenge podium.

The Stevens-The Cyclery women’s campaign took in the Canadian Championships in Lac-Mégantic, Que., this past weekend, and the girls brought back the top three podium spots in the inaugural women’s Sprint Challenge on Sunday. The podium sweep capped a solid three days of racing that saw the women in the thick of the action, as Emily Flynn reports.

This past weekend marked a key event for many of the riders on the Stevens-The Cyclery team: the Canadian championships.

This year’s nationals headed back to magnificent Lac-Mégantic, following the devastating 2013 train accident that saw much of the main street destroyed.

For myself, having been there in 2012 and now, seeing the damage was hard, but at the same time the town has come back stronger. So thank you to the town, volunteers and spectators for coming out and I hope this was a further step towards rebuilding.

Nationals consists of four events; the individual time trial, road race, criterium and sprint challenge. The women’s contingent headed up on Tuesday in order to get a full days prep for the ITT on Thursday. Following the drive, we made it to our beautiful cabin in the woods, surrounded with the scents of maple syrup and wonderful hosts that kept us fueled with lots of delicious maple butter.

After riding the hilly, 7.2km ITT course, on which we would do two out-and-backs for a total of 28km, the girls were eager to race the next day. Following the para-athlete races, which included our own JS Perron as a tandem pilot, we were off. With defending champion Joelle Numanville not racing, the jersey was up for grabs, but with some stiff competition and blistering speeds it was going to be tough.

In the end, we had two in the top ten, including birthday girl Annie Foreman-Mackey in 6th and Ellen Watters in 7th. The next day was the 120-km road race covering five laps featuring the dreaded Mont-Morne climb. After a steady ride out, the race splintered on the first climb and continued to do so each time around. However, again we were able to grab two top tens with Annie 8th and climber extraordinaire Carrie Cartmill 9th.

Saturday was an off day as the men took to the circuit for nine laps of the Morne. The race had 129 starters, of which only 39 finished. One of them, being our own Ben Andrew, putting on an impressive show of strength and perseverance to finish top 15 in the men’s U23 category and 29th overall in a race won by Tour de France rider Svein Tuft.

The last day of racing started with the crit in the downtown core. In the men’s race, JS finished 7th, happy to be able to use his sprinting legs after some tough climbing the previous day. In the women’s field, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies set the pace high with many going out the back. Carrie hung in there with an amazing sprint that nearly landed her a podium.

Following the crit was the Sprint Championships, a first this year for the women. The Stevens girls ended up sweeping the podium with some awesome team tactics and help by teammates, Amelie Bruneau and Ariane Bonhomme as carrots. The weekend ended with some much deserved ice cream and a jump in the lake! Next up the team flies to British Columbia for some intense racing at B.C. Superweek, including the new women’s UCI race at the Tour of Delta and the infamous Gastown crit.