The top female road cyclists in the world gathered in Gatineau, Québec, for the annual Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau, held this year from May 18-21, 2012.
Both the individual time trial and road race events are UCI WE 1.1 rated, which can be considered the equivalent of UCI WorldTour event for women.
This being an Olympic year, the event attracted a lot of the Olympic hopefuls testing their legs in preparation for London. All the teams seemed to have brought their A-riders, with the only notable absence being Italian Georgia Bronzini, winner of last year’s road race.
The weekend also included a Gran Fondo race for us mere mortals. You can read about my experience in that race here.
Photos from this event can also be found on my Flickr Gallery.
Chrono Gatineau Rona
First up is the individual time trial held on the Saturday, May 19th.
The course was 2-loops around a 9.8km circuit, for a total of 19.6km.
I moved over to the roundabout where riders turn for their second laps, where Olena Sharga of Ukraine had her back wheel slide out and hit the deck. I almost felt bad about shooting pictures while she picked herself up, but I was lucky enough to have been panning her in burst mode.
Near the finish line, the riders went right up against the barriers. I used this opportunity to try some action panning shots with slow shutter. Most did not turn out well, as expected, but there were a handful of good ones:
Clara Hughes of Canada, last year’s time trial winner, was the last one off the start ramp, looking to defend her title.
Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau Hydro-Québec
The main event, the elite road race, was held on Victoria Day. The course was 13 laps around a similar route as the time trial, but ran in reverse direction.
Unfortunately for her, no one was willing to work with her, the gap with the peloton never exceeded 2 minutes, and it was doomed to fail. She eventually dropped out of the race after getting caught and promptly spit out the back of the peloton, with nothing left in the tank.
However, every single break was chased down by the peloton, which meant the race would be decided by a bunch sprint to the finish.
The bunch sprint was won by Ina-Yoko Teutenberg of Germany, who seemed to be the Mark Cavendish of women’s cycling. The top Canadian was former national champion Joëlle Numainville, just off the podium in 4th place.
This was my first time watching a professional road race live. There was no clock at the corner of my screen telling me breakaway gaps, nor do I got to see anything that happened outside of my visual range. However, having the peloton rush past at over 40km/h is something that can never be surpassed by TV.
I will definitely need to make my way to Montreal and Quebec in September to watch the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec/Montréal.