Winnipeg native first Canadian to hold simultaneous time trial, road race, criterium titles
Leah Kirchmann put on a display of dominance at the Global Relay Canadian Road Cycling Championships this weekend in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, winning the road race and time trial and defending her 2013 criterium championship for a clean sweep of Canada’s 2014 road cycling titles. Kirchmann was aided by countrywomen and teammates Denise Ramsden, who finished second in the road race, and Annie Ewart, who played critical support roles during the hard weekend of racing. Kirchmann makes history as the first Canadian woman to hold all three road titles consecutively.
“I couldn’t be happier with how the weekend played out. I would never have expected sweeping all the titles, but I knew I had good form after placing third overall at the North Star Grand Prix,” said Kirchmann. “At the same time, anything can happen at Nationals. I just tried to stay confident and rely on my teammates as much as I could, and they were simply amazing. It made for an excellent birthday present!”
The Winnipeg native, who turns 25 today, kicked things off with a blazing fast run in the time trial, covering the 28.8 kilometer course in 43:28.39. She beat out second place finisher Jasmin Glaesser (Tibco/To the Top) by just 2.50 seconds to win her first time trial national title. It was proof positive that the natural sprinter’s additional training efforts in the discipline had paid off.
“Time trailing is not a natural strength for me, but I focused much harder on it last year when the team was invited to the World Championships for the team TT,” said Kirchmann. “I started spending more time in my position and doing specific TT workouts, which helped make the difference. I also think our new Diamondback time trial bikes are a great fit – time trailing is never supposed to be comfortable, but it definitely eases the pain to have such a smooth, responsive bike.”
For Saturday’s coveted road race championship, Kirchmann was guided by 2012 champion Ramsden and Ewart. The duo played a critical support role on the difficult Lac Mégantic circuit, employing aggressive tactics throughout the day and executing a perfectly timed leadout over the closing kilometers. Ewart was able to lead the trio through the final corner and into a tough uphill sprint, where Kirchmann launched off Ramsden’s wheel in the final 500 meters to capture the win by a comfortable margin.
The trio was aggressive once again in Sunday’s criterium, set on defending Kirchmann’s title and completing Canada’s first-ever road title hat trick. Ewart and Ramsden kept the pace high and their sprinter safe on the winding course, lining up on the final lap to deliver Kirchmann in prime position for the uphill sprint. It was Kirchmann’s third straight Canadian criterium championship and a history making win for the young Canuck.
“I was excited enough to win the TT and road race, so defending the criterium title was icing on the cake. Annie and Denise both played such critical roles in my success this weekend,” Kirchmann said. “They committed fully to our team plan and delivered killer leadouts in both the road race and criterium. They are both incredibly selfless teammates and I can’t thank them enough!”
Kirchmann was protected by her teammates in the criterium to help claim her third straight championship in the discipline.
The road race win also grants Kirchmann the honor of wearing her nation’s colors later this month at La Course, the first ever women’s road race at the Tour de France, where she and her teammates go head to head against the world’s top talent in downtown Paris.