On Saturday June 2nd, Canada's fittest MAMILs lined up for the Masters national championship race on the familiar Metchosin loop. The day's race was to be 11 laps for a total of 110 kms and close to 2000m total elevation. This race was sure to deliver a worthy winner, and 5 Wheelers participated in the 40s category hoping for glory on our "home" course: Eugene "Autobahn", Brian "The Machine" Green, Rich "Money" Martin, Andy "Action-man" Pitre, and yours truly, Stéphane "Thibaut" Tran. Marcel Rambo, a Wheelers Masters OG, was also on hand to help in the feedzone with a generous supply of bidons and gels to see us through the race. Months of training and early morning PRs allowed us to indulge in some cautious optimism that a great result was possible on this fine Saturday.
It took a few laps for the nervousness in the pack to dissipate, with many a cone hit and several corners overcooked by various competitors. At one point the rider in front of me hit a cone which then got caught under my bottom bracket. However, unlike at the provincial championships where I DNFed after flatting after only 10kms, luck was on my side and the cone released without causing me any undue harm. The rider behind me was not so fortunate and the I heard the unpleasant sound of carbon and limbs hitting the asphalt right behind me almost immediately. I didn't look back but later found out that Rich got caught up in the crash and was decisively detached from the front group. Kudos to him though for sticking it out all the way to the end and trying to get his chase group to work together. Riders had to alert throughout the race as there were multiple incidents of traffic and various vehicles on the course. There was only one breakaway during the race: a commendable solo effort from a Calgary rider that was reeled in within 2 laps after a concerted chase effort from the strong Pender team, a few Langlois guys and Eugene, Brian and Stéphane. Some salty words were exchanged to "encourage" riders to contribute to the chase, but all the teams eventually pulled their weight and no hard feelings were had after the post-race handshakes and kudos.
The Pender team had definitely brought their A game and their 8 were putting in lots of efforts on the front. The inevitable slow attrition ground the pack down as the kilometers dragged on, leaving only to 20 or so guys in the front group with 2 laps to go. Fortunately Eugene, Brian and Stéphane were still among them. A small group including our man Brian put in a dig and opened up some daylight just before the start/finish line going into the final lap. Quite a few exhausted riders were shed at that point, but Eugene and I were in a small chase group that was able to close the small second gap relatively quickly. After safely getting through the technical corner one last time, it was game on for the final ascent of Liberty with 15 riders remaining in contention for the podium. Unfortunately the cramps that had been tickling my legs for the previous 15 kms hit me full-force halfway up the steep part of Liberty. I was quickly gapped and watched the front group roll away as I struggled to put out the watts. I had battled with the big guns for the entire race up to that point, but like Thibaut Pinot at the 2018 Giro, my legs simply had had enough on the last climb and I had to say adieu to any hope of a top result.
Enough about me though. Up the road Brian and Eugene were still in the final selection and made it all the way to the end together with Eugene claiming 5th and Brian 6th. I finished about 2 minutes later later to finish 15th. All in all, it was a fantastic showing by the team. We definitely put in some big pulls and were able to match some of the country's strongest Masters for pretty much the entire race on a very gruelling course. Not too shabby!
Results: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/0d2628_7 ... 814b60.pdf
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