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As the 9th season of the Winter Race Series approaches, riders across North America are preparing to challenge the dominance of the Peak Ottawa pairing of Alexandre Gagnon and Kelly Knowles.
Defending champion Gagnon can become the first rider to defend the Men’s GC since Winter Race Series legend Roger Lee (Peak Vancouver) won his third title in a row in the winter of 2011. Gagnon completed the clean sweep of GC, King of the Mountain & Sprint competitions last season in an Eddy Merckx-esque show of dominance, picking up 6 stage victories in the process, but will face new challengers on all fronts this season. Can 2nd and 3rd placed riders Sam Janicki (Tri Fitness, MN) and Dwayne Kress (Challenge by Choice) step up to take the crown? Will previous champion Roger Lee (Peak Vancouver) post a challenge this season? What kind of talent will the emerge from the participation of the new centres?
The women’s race was dominated last season by an intense rivalry between two times winner Alison Wood (Peak Vancouver) and defending champion Kelly Knowles (Peak Ottawa). Last year the title was decided by a mere 3 points, with a dramatic comeback by Knowles in the final few Stages. Will Summer Ohlendorf (SBR Coaching, WI) and the others be able to split them this year? Carol Deavy (Peak Ottawa) mopped up both the sprint and KOM competitions last season, but finished just off the podium in the GC, in 4th place.
Last Season John Forsyth (Peak Vancouver) edged out Bill Martin (SBR Coaching, WI) in the Men’s B category by a mere 3 points; exactly the bonus he
gained for setting a p.b. on the final time trial. With the top 4 in the Women’s B category split by only 5 points, the competition could not be more open.
However, the dominance of last year’s champions is sure to be challenged this season with the introduction of riders from 9 new centres across Canada and United States. This will throw open the competition, and with Stage 1 being the first Original Time Trial on September 26th-October 2nd riders are itching at the chance to get a measure of the competition. The current world records for the Time Trial stand at 33:45.9 for the men (Derek St. John, Peak Ottawa) and 37:14.6 for the women (Sue Schlatter, Peak Ottawa); will the records fall before 2012 is over having stood for almost 3 years?
While Stage 1 will give an indication of the challengers for the GC, “experts” have identified some key stages in the coming weeks:
Stage 4 – Net Downhill
This course gives more powerful riders the opportunity to pull out a lead on the climbers ahead of the mountain stage. However, this is not an easy profile, and the 2 climbs in the first half of the stage may give the climbers enough of an advantage to hold of the chasers.
Wood (Peak Vancouver) and Rua Reid (Challenge by Choice, Squamish) could take points away from Knowles early in the season on this stage.
Stage 5 – Mountain
The second of a key pair of stages midway through the season; This is one for the climbers and those who can settle into a rhythm will do well. With only 800m of downhill in the entire stage, this will be about pacing and sustained power.
Watch out for Kress (Challenge by Choice, Squamish) who won last season’s mountain stage by 27 seconds from GC runner up Janiki (Tri Fitness, MN).
Stage 7 – Plateaus & Climbs
Stage 7 features a lot of climbing early in the stage, but without the downhill sections to recover afterwards. There is a tricky section with multiple changes of gradient in the middle part of the stage that will have the riders working the gear levers.
Gagnon will look to put his rivals to the sword on this stage.
Stage 11 – Hilly
A final chance for the climbers before the final time trial. With sections of 8.2% and a final kick up to the line, the climbers will have to take points from the rest if they are going to have a chance with just the time trial remaining.
Last season both Gagnon and Knowles won the penultimate stage to lay the foundations for their GC victories.
Racing begins across North America
Want to find a participating Multi-Rider Centres in your area? Please see our website at: http://www.peakcentrevancouver.ca/winter-race-series/
Natural High Fitness, Okatoks AB
Ascent Physical Therapy & Performance Lab, Canmore AB
Peak Centre for Human Performance, Vancouver BC
Challenge by Choice, Squamish BC
Innovative Fitness, Surrey BC
Peak Centre for Human Performance, Ottawa ON
Down Under Cycling, Waterdown ON
Centre Entrainement Cyclisme VeloCite, Blainville QC
US Based Centres:
The Cycle Studio, Carmel IN
Shrewsbury Health & Racquet Club, Shrewsbury MA
Tri Fitness Training, White Bear Lake MN
Revolutionary Velo-Watts, Clifton Park NY
CycleOne LLC, Portland OR
SBR Coaching & Training, Verona WI
Have a CompuTrainer and want to race from home? See the Race From Home option on: http://www.peakcentrevancouver.ca/winter-race-series/