The inaugural GP Cycliste Vaudreuil Soulanges took place on a sunburning Sunday on the sometimes sketchy roads of Hudson. Racers rolled around an 18.1 km circuit, which included the short climb up Cameron, a tester familiar to many local cyclists, especially those of the Beaconsfield Cycling Club. In an interesting move, the organizers made the race longer than normal for this time of year, with the Cat 1 peloton traveling 144 km to the finish.

As a coach, devising race plans was more tricky for this race than usual. I felt that the Cameron climb would challenge some riders, but would not be a decisive feature of the race, in and of itself. For most, it was going to be the duration of the race that would start to make the climb up Cameron–and a second climb a few kms later–have an impact. Splits could then start happening anywhere. For most of my racers, therefore, I suggested they approach the GP as a race of attrition. The goal was to make the key selections through positioning, and the breaks through smart racing–especially early on and during the last 2-3 laps.

In the Cat 1 race, Max Joly Smith (Rocky Mountain) and William Blackburn (Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss) were able to make the first selection, a group of 15-20 riders that rode off the front early in the race leaving many big names behind–including all members of the SPIDERTECH squad.

William Blackburn driving the first selection ©2010 May Studios

Cooperation is usually difficult to establish in such large groups, and as the laps ticked by splits started to happen–often initiated by members of the Garneau squad.

"Coline! This hurts!" ©2010 May's Studio

As the chasers softened in the gaps, the Garneau team laid down a heavy-handed spanking. In the end, Derrick St-John and Shaun McCarthy would cross the line 1-2, with teammates Hugo Houle and Jean-Sebastien Perron coasting in a minute later. Reigning National Champ, Aaron Fillion, finished after Perron in 5th, while the debris of the shattered break would be rejoined by other groups, forming a larger peloton of 40 tired riders. Blackburn finished 18th, and Joly Smith came 21st.

Max Joly Smith (Rocky Mountain) coasting across the line ©2010 May's Studio

I thought they raced well because they put themselves in the right position to take the next step. They’re getting close.

In the Senior 3 race, two riders rode away on the final lap, with Scott Loong (McGill) powering away from Jean-Roch Marion in the sprint. Toguri Training’s Robert Ralph (Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss) attacked with 8-9 km to go, and came in solo for 3rd.

Ralph crossing the line. "Look: I can try to look cool while taking care of a cramp at the same time!" ©2010 May's Studio

Here’s Robert collecting the hardware and moola:

"Everything is red and white because it is good to be tidy on the podium" ©2010 May's Studio

And just to add to the Robert Ralph show… Here’s a video of Robert on the podium shot by Monika Kin Gagnon… He’s the guy on the right WITHOUT his belly button showing. What’s with these Senior 3 guys?!

In the Women’s Maitre E race, Vanessa Cheong (Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss) hung in there to the bitter end, and finished 4th.

On the far right: Vanessa Cheong (Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss) ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

In the Maitre A race, Patrick Russell (Synergy) was the only survivor of a team exodus partway through the race, and finished a respectable 14th.

Far right: Patrick Russell (Synergy) ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

And finally, in the Maitre B race, David Albert (PowerWatts) attacked halfway into the race, and was later joined by Eric Provost (Trek-Curaprox). Eric is rapidly racing into shape and seemed to do whatever he wanted on the Cameron climb and, well, anywhere else on the course. Albert thanked Provost for the tow by offering an uncontested sprint.

Albert says thanks to Provost ©2010 Antoine Bécotte

A tired and timid bunch let Daniel Grenier (CIBC) walk away with about 10 km to go for third, and after much “encouragement” from teammate Jose Jorge, and a long pull by another loudmouth teammate, David Landry, I did what Jose told me to do and attacked with 2 km to go. I held off the pack for fourth and Jose finished 6th.

"Now I'm going to have to listen to Jose and David take all the credit for this!" ©2010 May's Studio

The GP Cycliste Vaudreuil Soulanges was a well-organized event. It seemed strongly supported by Hudson, and you felt as if you were racing within a community. Finally,  I thought the longer distances made it worthy of being part of the super prestige series in the future.

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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