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Canada’s top road cyclists are gathering next weekend for the first nationals in two years

Stacked fields will make for an exciting three days of racing

On Sept. 10-12, 2021, Canada’s strongest road cyclists will line up to compete in the Elite women’s, men’s and para national championships.

The athletes will return to Beauce, Qc., the location of the 2019 national championship. The event will be one of the largest gatherings of riders from across the country in the past few years and organizers have put in place some new health and safety precautions.

Although Cycling Canada says there will be more than 350 cyclists competing, in accordance with Quebec’s new vaccine passport mandate all athletes will be required to show proof of vaccination when they sign in for their events. The organizers have also cancelled the criterium race for this year, due to “COVID-19 implications.”

Races begin on Friday, with individual time trials for all categories just outside of Saint-Prosper, Qc. The riders will race distances ranging from 11 to 34 kilometres, depending on category.

On Saturday, Sept. 11, the junior women will race 86.7 km on the road. They will be followed by the U23 and elite men, who will ride 198.9 kilometres, including five laps of a circuit in the city of Saint-Georges, Qc.

The next morning, the paracyclists will compete in eight categories, racing distances from 30.5 to 73.5 kilometres on a 6.1km city circuit. Sunday afternoon, both junior men and elite women will take on a 114.6-kilometre course, finishing with two laps of the Saint-Georges circuit.

Women’s races

Karol-Ann Canuel has had the national champion jersey since 2019, but the reigning champion won’t be at nationals to defend her title, leaving the battle for the maple leaf jersey to other riders. Leah Kirchmann (DSM) is just wrapping up the 2021 Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta and will be racing at the 2021 UCI Road World Championships on Sept. 19—she also isn’t on the start list for Canadian nationals.

2019 women’s road nationals podium: 1. Karol-Ann Canuel 2. Leah Kirchmann 3. Ariane Bonhomme.

RELATED: After the Olympics, will national champion Karol-Ann Canuel retire?

Alison Jackson (Liv Racing), who was selected last-minute to compete alongside Canuel and Kirchmann at this year’s Olympics, will be at the event and will definitely be one of the riders to watch, particularly if the road race comes down to a final sprint. Rally Cycling’s Sara Poidevin and Marie-Soleil Blais will also be competing along with 2019 U23 champion Olivia Baril (Massi – Tactic Women Team).

Maghalie Rochette a three-time Canadian cyclocross champion and three-time Pan-Am cyclocross champion will be in Beauce lining up for the races and could add some interesting dynamics to the events.

Men’s races

Olympians Hugo Houle (Astana-Premier Tech), Antoine Duchesne (Groupama-FDJ) and Derek Gee (X-Speed United) will be the ones to watch in the men’s race. 2019 national champion Adam de Vos (Rally Cycling) won’t be there to defend his title, and he says he’s currently “savouring his last few races in the maple leaf jersey.”

Jordan Cheyne (Elevate – Webiplex Pro Cycling) and teammate Adam Roberge (who just finished fourth in the GC at Joe Martin Stage Race and won the 2019 time trial), will also be names to look out for next weekend.

Para races

Fresh off of the Tokyo Paralympics, Paralympians Marie-Ève Croteau, Charles Moreau, Joey Desjardins and Marie-Claude Molnar will be competing and looking to add Canadian champion to their long list of accolades.

Master’s Canadian road championships

Junior and elite racers aren’t the only ones competing for national titles in Quebec this year. The master’s national championships and the Gran Fondo World Series are currently ongoing in Victoriaville, Qc. The events, taking place Sept. 3-6, kicked off on Friday with an individual time trial, followed by the road races for all categories on Saturday. Both events are able to be used to qualify participants for the Gran Fondo World Series.

On Sunday, participants competed in the Appalachian Classic and the GFWS road races and on Monday the final day of Masters events will conclude with a criterium.

“Following a two-year hiatus of national road events, we are thrilled to see the Canadian Road Championships return to the calendar this year,” said Cycling Canada’s Events & Officials Manager, Jolène Dupuis. “We are expecting a great set of events and performances with our back-to-back competitions, starting with the Masters this weekend, and our Elite, Junior, and Para athletes the following week. We are confident that the organizers have offered courses that will be fun and challenging for all athletes.”