By Brendan Shykora
The 2018 Global Relay Canadian Road Championships take place this weekend and Ottawa’s Katherine Maine is looking to repeat her strong cycling performances at last year’s national events.
But for 20-year-old Maine it’s not about whether she herself will stand on the podium; she’s happy as long as one of her teammates takes home the top spot.
“It’s very much a team sport, and although only one rider gets the result, that’s the result for the whole team,” the former Ottawa Bicycle Club rider said. “So we’re all pushing for that same result.”
By that metric, last year’s nationals in Ottawa could hardly have gone better: Maine’s team, the Minneapolis-based Rally Cycling, took the top two spots in the 120-kilometre road race. Calgary’s Allison Beveridge went home with the gold medal and the prestigious red and white maple leaf jersey that each year’s champion wears for a full season. Her teammate Kirsti Lay finished a hair behind her to claim silver.
Maine was the 12th rider overall to cross the line – good for a bronze medal among the Under-23 women, who race together with the more experienced Elite riders. She also won silver in the U23 individual time trial.
Now in her third year as a professional cyclist, Maine knows how to handle the pressure.
“I still get crazy nervous, but as soon as the race starts it seems to calm down,” she said. “You just have to trust in your training (and) in your teammates.”
But in this year’s road race – which take place in Saguenay, Quebec – Rally Cycling will be without its reigning champion. Allison Beveridge has been forced by injury to bow out of the competition, leaving the team with only five riders at nationals, instead of the usual six.
Smaller team, same strategy
While losing Beveridge is an unfortunate blow for Rally Cycling heading into Saguenay, the team won’t be making any drastic changes to its game plan. Coquitlam, B.C.-native Sara Bergen says her teammates are nothing if not well-rounded, which will help make up for the absence of last year’s gold medalist.
“Everyone on our team can climb, or do long, sustained efforts, or sprint, which is cool because that means a lot of our riders are interchangeable, and that gives us a great deck of cards to play with,” Bergen said.
“I’m confident we can overcome the loss. You never want to see a teammate injured and we would absolutely love to have (Beveridge) in the lineup, but we have five very strong women, and I wouldn’t count us out by any stretch.”
Having raced with Katherine Maine for two full seasons, Bergen says she’s an “outstanding teammate” who puts everything she has into a race.
“She’s a steady, powerful motor, but she also has a really snappy sprint, so that’s really advantageous because she can sit in the draft until the last minute and pop out,” Bergan added.
With a snappy enough sprint on Saturday, Maine could take the place of the sidelined Beveridge atop this year’s podium.
The individual time trial will kick off the national events for the Elite and U23 women at 12:55 p.m. on Thursday, June 21. At 8:30 on Friday the team will compete together in the road race – eight laps on a 15 kilometre circuit. Sunday will see them compete in the criterium, an hour-long endurance test on a 1.6 km loop.
Maine says her team’s aspirations will always be the same, be it with five racers or six.
“Everyone goes into a race with the goal of winning it, and that’s not changing for our team.”
Ottawa’s Timothy Austen will race in the U23 men’s time trial Thursday. Eight riders from the locally-based The Cyclery Racing team including Ottawa’s Ariane Bonhomme will also race in Thursday’s time trial. Here’s a story by Canadian Cycling Magazine where you can read more about The Cyclery Racing’s 2018 team.