The men and women of Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies finished the 2015 season together at the UCI World Championship Team Time Trial, fitting punctuation to the Orange & Black’s most productive season in team history.
Women Finish in Top Ten After Crash Shakes Team’s Core
The women overcame a brutal crash in the race’s trial run one day earlier, which knocked Annie Ewart and Maura Kinsella out of the lineup with a broken collarbone (Ewart) and concussion (Kinsella). Fortunately, Alison Tetrick was on hand as an alternate to contest the 24 mile Richmond course, although the team was forced to start at an immediate disadvantage with just 5 riders able to toe the line. The women finished in 9th place, with a time of 50:56.30, 2:25 away of the podium. Considering the adversity, it was a solid performance for the team, but a bittersweet result considering their lofty aspirations for the event.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished today,” said Leah Kirchmann. “It wasn’t the result we were hoping for after almost earning a podium at Worlds last year, but I think we made the best of the circumstances and everyone gave 100% today. One of the hardest things in the sport is overcoming crashes. You have terrible experiences sometimes but you have to be resilient. The best way to get past a crash is to get back on your bike as soon as possible and ride as if nothing even happened, and we did that today.”
Performance Director Patrick McCarty echoed Kirchmann’s positivity about the race. He knew the team would close the book on the 2015 with heads held high.
“It was a tough scenario today. We knew out effort would be compromised a bit because of the crash. When you start only five riders and three of them are pretty banged up, it’s tough. I can say the highlight of the day was being around the women and feeling the positive energy. Everyone rode their butts off out there, and for me the effort they put into the ride today, and the spirit they had, was a positive end to the season. They did everything they possibly could in the race and we can be happy with that.”
Men Finish 17th, Top Continental Team at Worlds
The men’s team, competing with a full roster on the challenging Richmond course, attacked the task at hand with the speed and technique expected from one of North America’s top programs, finishing in 17th place with a time of 44:32, 1:54 off of the podium pace. The lofty goal for the men, as set by Performance Director Jonas Carney, was to beat every Continental and Pro Continental team in the race, and it was nearly accomplished – only Belgian Pro Continental outfit Top Sport-Vlaanderen was able to better their time, by just 4 seconds. It was the best performance to date by them men at the World Championship.
“I am proud of the guys performance today,” said Carney. “I wouldn’t say we had ideal preparation. Racing in Utah, Colorado, Alberta, and Reading back-to-back meant we had some tired guys and there wasn’t much time to prepare, but the guys gave 100% effort all week in our training and it showed today. We had the goal of beating every Continental and Pro Continental team, and to come only 4 seconds short of that is something we can still be very proud of. The team continues to grow in the discipline, and we feel someday we will surprise a lot of people at the World Championships.”
Most of the Orange & Black will head home with a smile and a sigh of relief after completing the 2015 season proper on one of the sport’s biggest stages. Four of the team’s Canadian athletes will remain in Richmond to train and prepare for next weekend’s Elite Road Race championship, fighting for the coveted rainbow jersey alongside their countrymen and women. Guillaume Boivin and Ryan Anderson will join climbing sensation Mike Woods in the men’s race, and Leah Kirchmann will race for the women. Annie Ewart will sadly miss her first call up to Canada’s road race roster, relegated to recovery after her collarbone-breaking crash.