Women’s Performance Director Kevin Field provides an inside perspective on the women’s biggest victory yet in 2014.
The UCI 1.1 ranked Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau in Quebec, Canada is a race at which the team has historically performed very well. Last year we were 2nd and 4th at the finish, while in 2012, we landed in 4th and 5th. The race is on a technical circuit with a few selective hills but it typically ends in a bunch sprint. We had high hopes of winning the race after the previous day’s Chrono Gatineau time trial, where the team placed 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th.
This year the race had a new dynamic and we gave it a 75% chance that the race could be won from a breakaway. This suited our team — even though we had perhaps the two fastest sprinters in the race with Lauren Hall and Leah Kirchmann.
The team was divided into crews which were assigned different duties at certain points of the race. Annie Ewart was to cover the early moves and weld back anything dangerous that did not have great representation from the team. Jade Wilcoxson and Denise Ramsden followed up for the middle of the race. Leah and Lauren were to stay reasonable fresh, but trade turns looking for breaks in the final third of the race. We wanted them fresh if it the race did end in a sprint. Jade placed herself into an important move. However the Tibco team was not happy with the break and towed it back in. Shortly after Jade’s break, Denise counterattacked, taking five other riders with her up the road.
The situation that developed didn’t really have great odds for us. The assumption was that Tibco would not be ecstatic with a 1 in 6 situation either. We waited in an effort to draw Tibco out. When the break’s lead reached two minutes, it seemed destined to be successful. We still didn’t prefer these odds and chose to have Denise sit at the back of the group to dissuade the break and possibly cause a reshuffle at the front of the race. The remaining break seemed motivated to go to the line and Denise was given a free ride into the closing kilometers. A crash with Denise and another rider as they were searching behind for their team cars was a scary moment for us, as our team car was back with in the main field at that moment. Luckily, Denise was uninjured and able to fight back and rejoin the break very quickly.
As the race approached the finish, Denise bided her time and attacked the group through a sweeping downhill offramp onto the finishing straight. Only one other rider, Flavia Oliveira, was able to respond and the duo duked it out for the finish. Denise took the win while Leah cleaned up from the field, taking 7th.
We were ecstatic with Denise’s win. She is a tireless team supporter and deserved an opportunity to win a big race in her own right. It was very rewarding for her teammates to see her take the win. And from an overall team perspective, we were very satisfied in taking a tactical win, which will continue to help the team achieve success in all types of racing situations.