Rally Cycling roared into the second day of the Canadian National Championships on Saturday in Saguenay, Quebec. Katherine Maine claimed the coveted maple leaf jersey by winning the elite road race, taking the U23 title in the process while Sara Bergen won the sprint for third. Nigel Ellsay earned a hard-fought bronze in the elite men’s race with teammate Adam de Vos finishing a close fourth to round out an incredible day for the Canadian contingent of Rally Cycling.
Maine wins first ever Canadian road title
The women raced eight laps of a 15 km circuit in eastern Quebec for a total of 120 km of racing. A steep one kilometer climb greeted the riders at the start of every lap and was a decisive section of road – it nearly cut the field in half every time up.
Katherine Maine is used to being a “worker-bee” for her teammates by covering moves, getting bottles, and chasing, but she seized on her own opportunity with a late race attack and handily outsprinted her breakaway companion to the line.
“It feels absolutely incredible,” said Maine. “It still doesn’t feel real! Our plan was to get into the early move, use that to stack a break and then set one of our riders up from there. The team raced incredibly. Everyone communicated, stuck to the plan, and trusted each other. I really owe everything to this team.”
You could tell that for team director Zach Bell, Maine’s victory was especially meaningful.
“K-Maine is a real blue collar champion,” said Bell. “She is a diligent worker and always asking questions. Always working to be better. She is the best kind of person to earn a jersey like this.”
For Bell, it is the culmination of two seasons of hard work with a young, talented team of North American athletes.
“Our mission is to find and foster young talent into top-level professionals. This victory makes me feel like we have a lot of the pieces in the right place. We believe in her because she is worth believing in.”
Ellsay lands first nationals road race podium
By the time the men’s race had started in Quebec, temperatures had risen to nearly 90 degrees. With little wind to be found on course and one of the strongest fields in years, the race was just as much a war of attrition than it was a war of aggression.
On the same circuit as the women, with four more laps, a number of the Canadian teams had a numbers advantage but Rally Cycling quickly moved to turn the tables on them.
“The plan today was to go full gas over the top of the climb with the full team on the second lap,” said Nigel Ellsay. “We wanted to thin the field as early as possible. This worked well and we were left with a front group of 20.”
Adam de Vos, Rob Britton, and Ellsay all made this crucial split, and took turns attacking the climb every lap until Ellsay escaped with two others with one lap to go.
Despite suffering from cramps in the last hour of the race, Ellsay survived to sprint it out for the win, eventually finishing in third.
“I’m happy with the result but it’s also bittersweet,” said Ellsay. “I’m grateful to have put in a good ride for my teammates and Rally, however, we were really gunning for the win today.”
Adam de Vos covered every attack in the second group and went on to win the sprint for fourth against Canadian legend Svein Tuft.
The American and Canadian National Championships finish on Sunday with a road race in Knoxville,TN and a criterium in Saguenay, Quebec.
Canadian Women’s Elite Road National Championship Results
1 Katherine Maine (Can) Rally Cycling Women 3:20:41
2 Kinley Gibson (Can) 0:00:02
3 Sara Bergen (Can) Rally Cycling Women 0:00:31
4 Alison Jackson (Can) Team TIBCO -SVB 0:00:32
5 Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Sunweb
6 Kirsti Lay (Can) Rally Cycling Women 0:00:34
7 Marie-Soleil Blais (Can)
8 Annie Foreman-Mackey (Can)
9 Frédérique Larose-Gingras (Can) 0:00:35
10 Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin (Can) WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling 0:00:36
Canadian Men’s Elite Road National Championship Results
1 Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ 4:17:18
2 Benjamin Perry (Can) Israel Cycling Academy
3 Nigel Ellsay (Can) Rally Cycling
4 Adam De Vos (Can) Rally Cycling 0:00:14
5 Svein Tuft (Can) Mitchelton-Scott
6 Bruno Langlois (Can) EC Velo Cartel 0:00:18
7 Ryan Roth (Can) Silber Pro Cycling 0:00:19
8 James Piccoli (QC) Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 0:21
9 Jack Burke (BC) Jelly belly pro cycling 0:23
10 Edward Walsh (NS) T-Palm PCW 6:43
Canadian Women’s Under 23 Road National Championship Result
1 Katherine Maine (ON) Rally Cycling 3:20:41
2 Callie Swan (BC) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic 0:36
3 Sara Poidevin (AB) Rally Cycling 0:47