World Cup Montreal and Tour de Montreal- Hiroko

June 8, 2006 · Print This Article

World Cup Montreal and Tour de Montreal

By Hiroko Shimada

While Velo Bella – Kona team was racing great at Mt. Hood, I was excused to participate in these east coast-ish races up in Montreal. These races were UCI sanctioned so besides racing against some of the top North American professionals, I was also against some of the very best riders from all over the world, including world champions, national champions, and Olympic medalists etc… I was secretly hoping for some break-thru performance, but the races still kicked my butt very hard. It was a wonderful time I had, though.

To get there I should have driven there because it would have been only 6hrs or so. But I opted to use my United mileage award flights as I feared my 11yrs-old Honda Civic with >180k miles may not make the trip. There was a short direct flight from Hartford, CT to Montreal so I thought this trip will be a piece of cake. It was too good to be true. I got to the airport on Thu just to find that the aircraft was too small to take my bike box and they said it was my fault not to mention my bike box when I booked the flights. All they could do was to re-book my flights for the following day which would fly me down to DC first and fly up to Montreal. Good thing was that it did not happen on Fri as the race was to be on Sat. Another good thing was that I got time to set up another long experiment in the lab before this trip.

I was not the only one to have problems with airlines. Amber Neben, who was to be my composite-teammate and most importantly who just won the Tour de l’Aude, could not get on her original flight but on a later stand-by flight to arrive in Montreal around 2am on the race day without her bike. Our team manager and she went back to the airport later in the morning, hoping her bike would arrive in time. It did not and she instead flew back to California….. It was very crazy and I was very sorry for her. You might think, “why not borrow a bike for the race?” It is not acceptable for a sponsored rider and she did not want to cause any trouble for her team in Europe. I learned that she won the Pan-Am TT event just the other day! Her bike must have made it alright for the event.

World Cup Montreal

All World Cup races are really hard one-day races but I hear this World Cup Montreal is one of the toughest ones of all. My experience with World Cup races is rather limited, but I can tell you that this race is really darn hard. The fact that less than a half of the starting riders finished within the time cut should tell you how hard this race was. The circuit course was similar to the one in the past, going up Mt. Royal many times, but they added a section after the descent to make the loop a little longer so that we had to do hill repeats ‘only’ 11 times instead of 12. Well, I liked the fact that the introduction to the climb was safer (not as sharp a turn as before), but the positioning in the pack was even more important than in the past as non-climbers strung out the pack of 120 riders to single file before hitting the climb. The road surface was pretty awful and everyone was like “hang on!” as we scream downhill over potholes and cracks. My almighty Kona queen zing was really smooth, considering the road conditions. In such a situation where you are pushed to your limit physically and mentally, it is absolutely important to be able to trust your equipment and my blue Kona queen zing precisely gave me that! I was even commented that I looked very comfortable on my bike and he was very right about it!

Unlike last year, the pace was rather fast from the beginning. I thought I would have some buffer in the peloton and found that those behind me were simply gone in just the first couple of laps. The pack shrunk really quickly down to the half in the first 30 – 40 min. When significant attacks started happening in mid-way of the race I had a difficulty to stay in the pack. I made the time-cut, but was a bit disappointed not to be at the end of the real race. My fellow Japanese rider from Nobili (Italy), Miho Oki, who usually teases me a lot, was actually complimentary to my efforts and told me that I’d need a bit more experience to get the “edge.” Well, I shall keep adding….

Oh, so it was won by Judith Arndt (Ger). I love the way she carries herself as well as the way she rides on the bike. Nicole Cook (GBr) took 2nd and kept the World Cup leader’s jersey. Kristin Armstrong (USA) was the 3rd.

Tour du Grand Montreal

Stage 1 — ITT (11km)

First of all, I have to say that I looooove my brand new TT bike! Thank you, Kona! I got the bike two days before I left for the race and I rode it only once before the race. Your coach would tell you not to race on a new bike you are not familiar with, especially when the course is like 12-corner loop x 2.5 times! BUT, I still loved this new TT bike! The course was very technical and I certainly did not corner well, but it was soooooo comfortable! I know that I should not feel comfortable while TT-ing, but I always dealt with some ridiculous position with a clip-on bar (or no bar at all), so compared with that, it was like riding a Cadillac. For those who are small and short-legged, I strongly recommend to get a TT bike because it is so impossible to have any legal and decent position with a clip-on bar on a road bike. Did you know that the UCI regulation says, “the highest point of the bar has to be lower than the saddle position”? When you have short legs, the gap between saddle and the handle bar is almost none even with a negatively-angled-stem!

Christine Thorburn smoked everyone!

Stage 2 — Rigaud RR (117.8km)

We went around a big circuit (23km) four times, then rode this small circuit (10km), including a 2km steep hill, twice. Like expected, the race was decided at the steep hill. The rolling hills during the big circuit were tiring enough so that by the time we hit the small circuit, we were about sixty. Like any good race, the positioning was so important to start the climb. I regret that I did not make the group there and stayed in the laughing group. I believe the physical and mental aspects of this sport intertwine, but I was mad at myself about not being fierce enough at the key moment.

Olivia Gollan (Aus) from Nobili won this stage! I had a chance to have some coffee with Nobili gals and it was very interesting to chat in like three languages mixed together and we somehow had a great time…

Stage 3 — Petite Italie Crit (50km)

All I can say is that I survived thru it! Those who know me know how much I like crits. Luckily the course was a simple four-corner so that I could still carry momentum thru corners even in a less optimal position in the peloton. It started raining mid-way and it was getting darker as it was held in the evening. I could see the time display but somehow I could not find the lap card (which was right below the time display it turned out…), so I actually did not know about the last lap. I was just going with the pack, thinking “this has to be over soon….” And my wish came true.

Kathy Bates (Aus) with a really strong set of legs won in a break which was started by Chrissy Ruiter who finished the third! Kim Anderson took the 2nd! I liked Chrissy’s comment, “I had nothing to lose,” about when she went, and that is how I have to race, too!

Stage 4 — Mont-Saint-Hilaire CR (115km)

The GC competition was still tight as the top riders were separated by only a few seconds. So, it was a pretty fast race. Seriously, we kept 27-30 mi/h except for the climbing section which was at the end of the circuit for ~700m. The size of the peloton seemed to shrink each time we went up the climb. I don’t know why, but I flatted again in this stage. I went up the hill for the third time and I noticed that I could not go straight and realized that the rear tire was flatted. I stopped at the top of the hill and I had a rather quick wheel change from the neutral support. But, as I said earlier, the pack was moving pretty fast so by the time I started going, they were out of sight. I thought I was so done for the day, but did not give up. Who knows they might slow up for a change…. I kept going and came to a wide road section. I still remember vividly how happy I was to see my composite team car parked on the right, conveniently taking a loooong pee break. They were awesome! They car-paced me at 55-60km/h back to the end of the caravan train. They said, “take your time and go by one car at a time!” and went back to their spot. It took a bit out of me as there were 20 cars I had to come around. I did take my time to hop around one car, then rest a bit, then go for another one.

That was the highlight of the day…..

Overall, I started feeling that I belong there. Hope to have much more to show for the rest of the season.

Oh, so the Tour was won by Christine Thorburn! Her team did a great job supporting her as well!

*To maintain her availability to race with the Japanes National Team, Velo Bella-Kona Rider Hiroko Shimada is required to attend a few UCI races every year. This year VB-Kona would not be attending Montreal World cup so Hiroko was allowed to race on a composite team to fulfill her UCI requirements.

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