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Denise Ramsden holds off Flavia Oliveira to win the Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau

RamsdenPODIUMDenise Ramsden (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) powered away from a select group of six riders to win the 2014 Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau. Flavia Oliveira (Garneau Factory Racing) placed second a bike length behind and Jasmin Glaesser (Tibco to the Top) placed third.

What appeared to be a sprint finish was in actuality the result of a powerful, long-winded attack from Ramsden. She launched her race winning move approximately 1 km from the finish. Her final kick was unmatched even though she was sprinting uphill into a headwind. It was an impressive feat of strength and an excellent display of tactical thinking. Ramsden was among some formidable sprinters in the break, most notably Jasmin Glaesser. Ramsden was undoubtedly the strongest rider in a race that crushed the hopes of many who started. The heat was difficult to cope with for a number of riders who were dropped and forced to quit.

The opening lap of the race was relatively calm and the intensity slowly increased each lap until lap three.  The stronger teams began to push the pace and begin forcing a selection. Carrie Cartmill (Stevens – The Cyclery) was a major protagonist during this period; almost in defiance of the bigger teams who wanted to control the field. Cartmill seemed to be present in every move during the opening laps and she was rewarded with an intermediate sprint win. Nevertheless her efforts early on were to no avail. Cartmill never gained more than 30 seconds on the group.

Following the second prime sprint prize on the lap six, the real selection of the race began. The favourites came to the fore and with the high pace, increasing wind speeds, a split formed. A group of seven riders punched it off the front including Anika Todd (Tibco to the Top) and Jade Wilcoxen (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits). The break didn’t last as the hard charging peloton led by Tibco to the Top brought it back. The chase took its toll as the main field effectively shattered.

With three laps to go the race winning move formed. Eventual winner Ramsden, Kirsti Lay (SAS-Mazda), Flavia Oliveira (Garneau Factory Racing), Lex Albrecht (Equipe du Quebec), Jasmin Glaesser (Tibco to the Top) and Justine Clift (West of Quebec Wheelers) were in the final break. The gap slowly began to open and Optum amassed at the front slowing the pace.

The break had close to two minutes advantage heading into the final lap and given Lex Albrecht’s form of late, she was the favourite to win. Despite the time advantage with 10km remaining the break still was not confirmed. Optum seemed to be pushing the pace during the final lap and the gap was almost under a minute at one point. With a half-lap remaining the gap grew again and it was clear the winner would come from one of the six in the move. Ramsden launched her attack 1km out and held off the rest of break to take the win.

Full results can be found at the Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau.