This past Saturday, the town of Lincoln, Ontario was home to the 2014 Road Provincial Championships. Hosted by the St. Catharines Cycling Club and run on a brand new course, the event drew almost 350 athletes from across the province.
It was roughly seven months ago when the OCA Events Committee was faced with a major problem. No club in Ontario had put in a bid to run Road Provincial Championships. Shortly thereafter, without any coercion, Jeff Moote and Neil Armstrong, along with the support from the St. Catharines Cycling Club, stepped up to run one of the most important events of the season.
The day, which started out with a slight wind and some cloud cover ended up settling down and clearing up for the first race of the day. The 8:15 start had the U19 women on the line along with the female Master A/B category. The race which consisted of 61.25km resulted in each category coming through the finish in a group sprint. It was Sarah Mason, riding for Kallisto-FCV taking the gold medal and the jersey for the Junior women’s race. The Master A and B women’s field came across as one group with Megan McEachern riding for Orthocare Cycling Team taking first in the Master A women’s race and Cheryl Rondeau taking the Master B race.
The second race of the day got off just after 11 AM and saw some of Ontario’s most experienced riders taking the course for the provincial title along with Ontario top female athletes. Ontario’s most seasoned category, Master D men, consisted of a field of twelve. 2014 National ChampionCharlie Squires from Team London Cycling, showed us why he deserved to be double champ by breaking away for a time trail finish putting 17 seconds between him and the second place finisher Gary Cluett rider for the Ontario Masters.
In the Master C race, after two long hours of racing it came down to a sprint finish of five riders. With an average speed of roughly 40 km per hour, Stanislav Blazek , racing for Kurzawinski Coach – Bike Zone beat fellow rider Rob Amos from Ride with Rendall P/B Biemme for the provincial championship title in this 85 km race.
Also racing 85 km in the middle of the day, there were 34 Elite women battling it out for the coveted title. The leaders position was determined early in the event by Annie Foreman-Mackey riding for Stevens – The Cyclery. Breaking away, Annie ended up soloing across the line, securing her spot as 2014 Road Provincial champion with a five and a half minute gap in front of second place finisher from Joyce Spruyt from Coachchris.ca/Ted Velikonja.
The weather held up for the first two starts of the day, however, the last group out on the road would receive a bit of a shower from the skies of the escarpment. The Master B men made up the largest field at the event with close to 90 riders. The race, covering 122 km, lasted almost exactly three hours and ended with the pack chasing down the break of three riders that emerged with 20 km to go. The peloton almost got their wish as Chris Firek, of Racer Sportif / Mattamy Homes caught Lawrence Akot and Patrick Shea from the break right at the line, but had to settle for second as Midweek Cycling Club’s own John Provart had enough gas left to power across the line first, taking the title and jersey.
Not 5 minutes later, the Master B men’s race ended with a two man showdown that began with a two-man break nearly 60 km before the finish. James Keezer riding for Midweek Cycling Club and Blacksmith Cycle’s Dan Doddy were both gunning for the line in a heads-up sprint. Some back and fourth tactics were deployed by both when the finish line came into sight however it was James who ended the race by narrowly taking the sprint just ahead of Dan, securing the second championship jersey for Midweek that day.
It was slightly after 2 pm when over 50 Elite and U23 men took the line to battle it out for their respective titles. Both categories were racing 160 km with the winning group coming in just under four hours. Ryan Roth, riding for Silber Pro Cycling Team, returned to Ontario in order defend his title as the fastest male racer in the province. Earning his keep, Ryan broke away from the group putting a 1:33 gap between him and the chase group, taking the title of Elite Men’s Provincial Champion.
Ontario’s top U23 male athletes came across the line in a sprint finish amongst other Elite riders. Travis Samuel, riding from Jet Fuel Coffee / Norco Bicycles, took the title over Jack Burke, Team NCCH P/B DEC Express, and Conor O’Brien, Stevens – The Cyclery, who were also in the same sprint pack.
It was a great day of racing for Ontario’s very best. A big thanks goes out to all who attended, helped, spectated, and cheered! Special thanks goes out once again to the St. Catherines Cycling Club for stepping up and organizing the event.
Next up – Provincial Crit and ITT in about a month – see you all there!