Canada and New Zealand shared the honours in the elite races at the 46th annual Preston Street Criterium bike races on Father’s Day Sunday.
Despite the hot and muggy weather, spectators were out in force to enjoy the beautiful weather and local establishments in Ottawa’s Little Italy.
The featured races started with the elite women’s event, which was set for one hour plus five laps of the one-kilometre course, starting and finishing on Preston Street.
With the defending champion Joëlle Numainville retired from racing, the team to watch was the Ottawa-based Cyclery Racing squad, featuring several national team riders and two past race winners: Annie Foreman-Mackey won in 2013 and 2014, and Ariane Bonhomme won in 2016. Both riders, along with teammate Kinley Gibson, recently represented Canada at the 2018 Commmonwealth Games in Australia.
The Cyclery made sure to keep the pace high from the outset, and soon Foreman-Mackey found herself off the front of the splintering pack with a 10-second lead. She was quickly joined by teammate Myriam Brouwer and the pair set to work to build up their lead. But the group tenaciously held their lead to just 20 seconds, with Scottish rider Jennifer George putting in a series of counter attacks.
But it wasn’t enough, and the elastic snapped around the half-way point and the two leaders quickly gained a lap on the main field.
From that point on, The Cyclery executed a perfect team time trial on the front of the pack to keep any other attacks in check. Foreman-Mackey crossed the line ahead of Brouwer to take her third Preston Street win, and the Cyclery topped it off with Ariane Bonhomme winning the bunch sprint ahead of another teammate, Emily Flynn, to make it a Cyclery 1-2-3-4.
“I’m really grateful for my teammates – they did a great job today,” said Foreman-Mackey, who will compete at the Canadian championships in Saguenay QC next weekend in the hopes of defending her national time trial title.
A feature of Preston Street is the famous beer scale: the winners of the elite races win their weight in Kichessippi beer. Foreman-Mackey made the most of the new metal women’s trophy to boost her prize.
The final event of the day was the elite men’s race with 60 riders on the line racing for one hour 15 minutes plus five laps.
Although last year’s winner, Derek Gee, was away racing for the Canadian team at the Tour de Beauce, the race featured three former champions: 2008 winner Osmond Bakker (Nine2FivePro Cycling Team), 2009 and 2013 winner Derrick St-John (Van Dessel p/b Hyperthreads) and 2016 winner Anton Varabei (Toronto Hustle).
As always, racing was very aggressive from the start. There were a series of attacks by riders like Eric Johnston (Ascent Cycling p/b Neworld Cycle), Max Rubarth (ProBaclac/DeVinci), Varabei and others. But no move was able to gain more than handful of seconds on the hard-charging field.
Mark Brouwer (Ascent Cycling) spent several laps off the front around the mid-point of the race, but he too was not able to gain more than 10” and soon the field was back together.
The most dangerous move came about 45 minutes into the race when a group of about 10 riders – including several favorites – went clear, but it was never able to get a substantial gap and a front group of about 25 started the final lap together, setting the stage for a sprint finish.
When the dust settled, 22-year-old New Zealander Luke Mudgway (H&R Block Pro Cycling Team) took the bunch sprint ahead of local veteran Warren MacDonald (Nine2FivePro Cycling Team), and Johnston rounded out the podium in third.
“I was hanging back and watching the race develop because I only had one teammate here, unlike other teams that has four, five or six riders,” said Mudgway, who raced alongside Ottawa-area rider Conor O’Brien. His upcoming objectives include BC SuperWeek and a block of racing in Europe.
Kids’ race results: