Quebec’s Karol-Ann Canuel is prepared to take on some of the toughest road races on the elite women’s calendar with her new UCI team Specialized-lululemon in 2014. Although the official team schedule is not finalized, she is targeting stage races and World Cups.

“The schedule will all get sorted out at our first training camp,” said Canuel, who will meet her teammates in January. “I had my best results last year at the hillier World Cups and stage races. I hope to do them again, but nothing is set yet.

“It’s hard to tell what my role will be because I’m new on the team and there are so many strong girls already. There will be races where I’m working for others but I’m really motivated to improve on what I showed last year. Hopefully I’ll be able to lead some races too.”

Canuel spent five seasons racing with the UCI team Vienne-Futurescope in France. She is a top-notch contender in hilly stage races and one-day events, having won the fifth stage of the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardéche, placed fifth at the GP de Plouay-Bretagne World Cup and has had multiple top-10 finishes internationally.

“I noticed Karol-Ann in the spring racing and then she stood out at the Plouay World Cup, which is a tough race,” said team manager Kristy Scrymgeour. “She’s given herself a great education in euro racing with four years in France and she’s still young. I think we’ll see big things from her in the next couple of years.”

Specialized-lululemon is heading into its third season and has won the team time trial world championships for two consecutive years. The team has included Canadian riders each year with Olympian Clara Hughes racing for them in 2012 and Gillian Carleton in 2013. Although the team’s co-sponsor lululemon athletica is based in Vancouver, Scrymgeour says they select riders based on ability, not nationality.

“I don’t necessarily choose the riders because of their nationality,” Scrymgeour said. “That’s the beauty of an international team, you have a world of talent to choose from. Canada regularly produces good talent so it’s only natural that we have a Canadian on the team.”

 

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