If the first race of the Quebec racing season is a jittery twitch-session on the windy farm roads of Ste-Martine, the second race is a short, relatively safe criterium just outside of Montreal, in Brossard. Racers do clockwise laps around a five-corner, 1.8 km course that is shaped like an upside down sock with the toe cut off. The start/finish is on the bottom of the sock, near the heal.

If this imagery is confusing, here’s a map

The crit is a relatively cozy affair, except for the third turn. It is off-camber, which means as riders turn right, the slope of the road banks from right to left, forcing their bikes to drift wide. To complicate things further, you drift from a wider road into a more narrow road while turning. For the most part this if fine, but I’ve seen riders “space out”–literally lose their sense of position in space–while drifting. They become sock zombies capable of thick, living-dead violence:

Or they over-correct their steering as the road narrows and create a sock of horrors:

One year, the time trialing PHENOM, Michel Brazeau, attacked into the third corner.

Awesome Time Trialist Michel Brazeau frolicking in Cuba ©2010 Michel Brazeau

Fabio frolicking because he is always frolicking in a composed way. He could TT if he wanted to, but he does not want to TT. He wants to frolick–with you.

Fabio the Miniature Horse frolicking. Also potentially good at shorter TTs

Brazeau attacked into the third corner, but he crashed. Amazingly, he jumped up so fast that he was able to stand in the middle of the road as the peloton whipped around both sides of him and through the corner. I don’t know how he did it, but there was magic at work. Out of my periphery,  he looked like this:

Lucky compression socks with TT shoe covers save the day!

So Brossard is mostly safe, but a little bit dicey. This year the forecast for rain scared many riders away. As it turned out however, the rains stayed away.

One of the most impressive races of the day took place in the women’s field. Two juniors, including the incredible Adriane Provost (Saputo), jumped into the break with four Senior racers led by Audrey Lemieux (Specialized-Mazda).

Audrey Lemieux powering the break. ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

The break maintained a 50-sec gap for most of the race until Lex Albrecht (Cascades) and Veronique Labonté (Nanoblur) started what seemed like a doomed effort to bridge.

"This bridge is taking FOREVER!!" ©2010 Antoine Becotte

Each lap they crawled a second or two closer to the break, but seemed to lack the decisive power to get the job done as the timed race was running down. Attacks in the break, however, slowed the pace during the final laps, and the bridging duo not only closed the gap but won the sprint, with the fast-finishing Albrecht edging Labonté for the top step on the podium. Sarah Coney (Stevens) finished third.

©2010 Antoine Bécotte

As the break slashed across the line, Toguri Training’s Michelle Paiement (Stevens) attacked the field and finished solo, 3 seconds in front of the bunch.

Michelle Paiement launching a last lap attack to finish ahead of the bunch in 7th place. ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

Other notable performances by Toguri Training athletes included that by Frederique Fenneteau (Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss), who completed her first ever crit. After doing WAY to much work in and out of corners, Fred finished with the bunch and claimed 3rd overall amongst the Masters.

"Closing all these small gaps is killing my legs" ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

Max Joly Smith (Rocky Mountain) provided the most impressive ride of the day amongst my clients. An early break of 9 or 10 riders escaped the Cat 1 field. It was comprised of all the usual suspects: Hugo Houle and Jean-Sébastien Perron (Garneau); Kevin Lacombe and Guillaume Boivin (SPIDERTECH); Jean-François Laroche (Régis); Arnaud Papillon (Nativo), etc. Over 2 laps, Max bridged up with William Goodfellow (Bikereg.com) and another rider in tow. In the end, repeated attacks saw Houle and Lacombe slip off the front to finish first and second.

Lacombe, Houle, Goodfellow and Joly Smith. Lacombe: "There are four of us in this photo, but only one person is listening closely to how I want this race to end!" ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

Perron would elude the rest for third, while Laroche outsprinted those left behind for fourth.

Perron listening to his watch/video/phone: "Ok ok, Monsieur Bécotte!! I promise I'll attack after the start/finish!" ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

Max finished just behind Laroche for fifth, or for what we call… a place on the “chubby podium”–that excess area just to the sides of the steps for medal winners:

From L to R: Laroche, Lacombe, Houle, Perron, Joly Smith ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

Good work Max. After a fast day of racing, it was time to leave Brossard and put on some compression socks.

About Scott Toguri McFarlane

Scott Toguri McFarlane is a former Elite racer, and the founder of Toguri Training Services. For more than a decade, his approach to training has helped aspiring professional racers, provincial team members, and recreational cyclists of all ages and ability achieve their goals, including gold medals at National and Provincial Championships.

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