Race report of the Women’s UCI race at the Gatineau Grand Prix from Justine Clift

Justine Clift

There’s a scrap of duct tape on my stem with the word ‘belong’ written in Sharpie; a reminder to myself that I am where I need to be, that I have earned my place on the start line, and that the wheel in front of me is mine to hold. This past weekend brought me to the start line of my first UCI races, the GP Gatineau and the Chrono Gatineau time trial. With the invaluable help of the Wheelers, I was able to hold some fast wheels and gain some critical big race experience with a top-10 finish.

After a rainy pre-ride on Thursday, the Friday time trial was thankfully dry. It was a technical course, therefore I took it out conservatively, perhaps too much so, trying not to burn myself out on the first grinding uphill off the start line. After the first section I settled in, attempting to ride aggressively through the corners- one of which I definitely needed to be on the brakes for! Luckily, I saved this too-fast turn at the last second and came away satisfied with my overall effort and a 14th place finish in a field of over 40 riders.

Saturday’s 120km race has been re-told to me several times, and there was great online and live coverage. Due to the intensity of the effort, my experience is not very coherent but can be summarized as:

Laps 1-6: Move up, move up, move up. Corner, crash, chase, corner. Move up, move up, move up!
With the pace not high enough to string out the peleton, and corners almost every kilometre, it was messy off the start line! Lots of contact and a few crashes kept things interesting, to say the least.

Laps 7-8: Chase. Sit up. Chase for real.
The first significant break was caught at about 60km after Tibco went to the front to bring it back. In the counterattack that followed 5 girls got away, with all the big teams represented. I initially went to the front to initiate the chase, but around one of the roundabouts a gap opened up and I put my head down and kept going.

Laps 8-12: Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up.
I bridged to the break alone, making contact sooner than I expected. I committed fully to the effort knowing that I wouldn’t have anything left if we were caught. In hindsight, I should have been more strategic, because when it came down to the final kilometre, the moves happened quickly and my legs had nothing left to respond.

So it was 6th place for me- a result indicative of all the work I have done over the past year and a welcome reminder that I have earned my place in the peleton.

What a warm welcome to the Wheelers! Thanks again for all your support that made this experience possible for me and my teammates.

Pro-Elite Team 2014

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