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Bergen escapes to win Canadian Criterium Championship

Nationals: Bergen claims gold, Maine silver to bring medal count to 22

Rally Cycling carried their tremendous momentum into the final day of the Canadian National Championships on Sunday in Chicoutimi, Quebec, where Sara Bergen blasted away from a stacked field to win her first national criterium title, just one day after sprinting to third in the brutal Saguenay road race championship.

Newly-minted Canadian road champion Katherine Maine won the silver medal and Gillian Ellsay crossed the line in fourth to close arguably the most successful championship weekend in the program’s history – all told, the team won four Canadian titles, four American titles, seven silver medals, and seven bronze.

Katherine Maine, Sara Bergen, and Leah Kirchmann.

The women raced for 60 minutes on a one-mile course along the Chicoutimi River. The main feature was an 8 percent grind up Rue Bosse at the end of every lap.

Vancouver native Sara Bergen was the protected sprinter on the day but showed the tactical savvy of a true veteran by recognizing an opportunity late in the race and pouncing.

“I was watching Alison Jackson and when she attacked, I followed and countered,” said Bergen. “It was one of those split-second moves. You only have one to make and I hit out as hard as possible. I heard Zach Bell yelling “drive it” so I put my head down and went full send commit to the move.”

The winning attack was made possible by Bergen’s teammates who had forced a selection early in the race by attacking the field one-by-one until there were only ten riders left in contention.

Poidevin attacks ahead of Gillian Ellsay and Katherine Maine.

Despite Bergen’s stellar results this season that included a UCI stage win at the Joe Martin Stage Race and a podium finish at this month’s UCI GP Gatineau, she could not contain her excitement after soloing the last 15 minutes of National Criterium Championships.

“Amazing,” said Bergen. “The plan was to be aggressive and split the field. After that Kirsti Lay, Sara Poidevin, Gillian Ellsay, and Katherine Maine kept the pressure on. Everyone spent some time off the front! We knew any one of us could win from a break and I’m extremely thankful to have this group of ladies as teammates.”

In the men’s race, Adam de Vos rode with the strength of ten men to battle the entire Canadian Silber Pro Cycling squad and finished fourth.

Canadian Women’s Elite Criterium National Championship Results
1 Sara Bergen (BC) RALLY Cycling – EL 1:06:46
2 Katherine Maine (ON) RALLY Cycling – U23 at 1:06
3 Leah Kirchmann (MB) Team Sunweb – EL s.t.
4 Gillian Ellsay (BC) RALLY Cycling – U23 1:47
5 Alison Jackson (BC) TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank – EL 2:19
6 Marie Soleil Blais (QC) Indépendant – EL
7 Kirsti Lay (QC) RALLY Cycling – EL
8 Haley Gill (BC) Rise Racing – EL all s.t.
9 Raphaele Lemieux (QC) Independent 2:26
10 Sara Poidevin (AB) RALLY Cycling – U23 2:39