By Martin Boyce
Barreling around the final corner, haunting memories of last year’s wicked crash flashing through his mind, Ottawa native Matteo Dal-Cin laid off the gas for a moment in the turn, then hit the pedals full tilt down the final stretch to sprint to victory in the Global Relay Canadian Road Cycling Championships elite men’s road race in front of a hometown crowd on June 25 at Tunney’s Pasture.
“(The title) came as a big surprise, but it’s a pretty amazing experience,” smiles Dal-Cin, whose family and friends were scattered along the course. “And it was really cool to win at home.”
Last year, the 26-year-old found himself in the same position – one of the first two riders to round the final corner – but the result was the polar opposite. Dal-Cin’s speed was too fast to handle in the turn, and he wound up making a trip to the hospital after surrendering a fair bit of his uniform and skin to the pavement in a hard crash.
“You’re going in and you’re taking a deep breath trying to put that out of your mind,” recounts the Rally Cycling pro rider, noting he let his rival dictate the level of risk in the final bend, unlike last year.
“That was definitely a little bit of a flashback coming into it,” he signals. “When I got through, it was a big sigh of relief. I made it through, but I still have to race for the win, but at least the dangerous part is done.”
The national gold medal should ensure Dal-Cin’s participation in the Sept. 16-24 UCI Road World Championships in Norway to cap what has already been a solid season for the Nepean High School grad.
Amongst the highlights was following in the pedal-strokes of fellow Ottawa native Mike Woods, now a World Tour rider for Cannondale-Drapac, to win the Mont-Mégantic stage of the Tour de Beauce.
Dal-Cin’s goal for the rest of the season is “just trying to have fun while I’m racing, be a good teammate, and do the best I can, and hopefully that’s what one of those [professional] teams is looking for,” he explains. “That’s the dream – to get to the pinnacle of the sport and see how far I could go with it.”
Competing on the women’s side, Ottawa’s Emily Flynn raced a very team-oriented nationals, playing a key role in Cyclery 4iiii counterpart Ariane Bonhomme’s criterium win in the under-23 class.
This season marks the most racing 24-year-old Flynn has done in a year.
“I’m really happy with how it’s been,” notes the member of the 2016 Ottawa Sports Awards female team of the year. “I’ve made steps each year and, although sometimes they’re baby steps, they’re still steps.”
Team RaceClean rider Derek Gee of Osgoode had his best race of the nationals during the crit, finishing 2nd in the men’s U23 category, preceded by a U23 6th in the road race and U23 5th in the time trial.
The 19-year-old Ottawa Bicycle Club product has spent most of his season racing on the track, highlighted by an appearance as a member of Canada’s endurance team at April’s UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong.
“They were an amazing experience,” recounts Gee. “It was really cool to see the top in the world and to see what it takes to get to the next level.”