In between the end of classes in Kaitlyn Rauwerda’s final year of high school and exams, she will be racing the Grand Prix cycliste de Gatineau. Representing Team Canada, it will be her first time racing in a pro elite field at the UCI 1.1 event.
A second-year junior, Rauwerda has been racing on the road for four years since joining the National Cycling Centre Hamilton program. Rauwerda won the elite women’s race at the Calabogie Classic earlier this spring, On Sunday, she was second to Annie Foreman-Mackey at the 2018 Ontario provincial championships, winning the field sprint after the former national champion went solo. Additionally, she was third in the hilly Steve Bauer Classic behind a dominant Leah Kirchmann in May.
Until her invite by Team Canada, Rauwerda didn’t have the GP Gatineau on her calendar. Now it presents the perfect opportunity to prep the legs ahead of junior nationals in Saguenay and a potential selection for the world road championships.
It’s an event she has been hoping to race for a couple of seasons now. “Some of my teammates who I look up to went two years ago as second-year juniors. I thought that would be super cool to go too,” Rauwerda said. “I talked to my coach and we discussed the possibility of going but it didn’t look likely.”
Then she got the call-up from Team Canada who will line-up with a younger squad than last year’s dominant team that went one-two with Kirchmann and Kirsti Lay.
The Gatineau course does two laps of Gatineau Park before laps of an urban circuit. Rauwerda isn’t too fixed on the course instead looks forward to the opportunity to race in a pro-UCI race. “I’m not too worried about the course profile. I’m quite a light athlete so I like climbs,” she said. “I don’t know what to expect. I am ready for anything the team asks of me.
As one of the biggest one-day women’s UCI races in Canada, the GP Gatineau has given many young and developing Canadian athletes their first taste of racing against a world-class field. “It will be a huge learning experience, I would love to do very well,” Rauwerda said. “I know I should be able to handle myself really well.”
Rauwerda won six medals at the U-19 Canadian national track championships. Track is part of her training she adopted in the past two years. “It’s something to do over the winter, it keeps the motivation up. It’s hard to sit on the trainer the whole winter” she said. “Track gives you something to break it up and the races are motivating, with goals to work towards which has been super key for me.
At the junior track championships, Rauwerda earned six medals including two golds in the points race and team pursuit. She earned silvers in the Madison and in the elimination race. Then two bronze medals came from the individual pursuit and scratch races.
Gatineau is a bigger stage but the routine is the same. “It’s a little bit stressful, it’s also an exercise in being relaxed and rolling with the punches. When you get there they tell you what to do,” Rauwerda explained.