MILTON, Ont. — Sprinting on a bicycle is painful. Suffering all day to finish second is even harder.
This is what Kelsey Mitchell experienced in the individual sprint of the Nations Cup in Milton on Friday, when she lost in the grand final to the reigning double world champion, the German Emma Hinze.
“It’s sports. I qualified with the fastest time, which is always exciting, but it doesn’t give you the gold medal at the end, summed up the Albertan and reigning Olympic champion in the discipline. (Emma) is a great cyclist; her tactics are very strong and she can maintain her bursts of speed until the finish line. I only came short. I will learn from all of this.”
And when Mitchell says she came up short, she couldn’t say it better. The German won the final in two sets, edging the Canadian by no more than half a wheel in total.
“I want it to be painful for my opponents! But today, I didn’t have the right gaps with her,” analyzed Mitchell, leader of the UCI sprint classification this season.
In the small final, Quebecer Lauriane Genest had to settle for second place, being beaten in two sets by Colombian Martha Bayona Pineda, to finish just off the podium.
Genest finished sixth in Glasgow, fourth at the last Worlds and eighth in Tokyo. This is her first round of medals on the Nations Cup circuit, but the disappointment was great for the cyclist from Lévis.
“In general, the day went well, but it’s disappointing to finish fourth. They were beautiful efforts, well executed, she said with a quavering voice and tears in her eyes. It’s a long day, I think there is accumulated fatigue. Seeing Kelsey on the podium also made me emotional.”
Genest seemed in control in the first race, but the Colombian passed her in the last 50 meters to cross the wire half a wheel in front of her.
Bayona Pineda didn’t wait for Genest to set the pace in the next round. She launched the attack at the start of the third and final lap. Genest gave it her all, but was unable to catch her opponent, who finished half a bike ahead of the Quebecer.
“I just didn’t have the legs today,” admitted Genest, who will compete in the keirin on Sunday, like Mitchell. Tactically, I made no mistake. If I had had the legs, it would have passed the line. In the last effort, I felt that I didn’t have it in me today. (…) Currently it hurts, but I think it will help me in the long term.
Guillemette at the foot of the podium
After a 17th place in Glasgow, Mathias Guillemette was not necessarily expected in the elimination race. But the 20-year-old Trifluvien has adopted a new attitude and new tactics that have led him to the foot of the podium.
“In Glasgow, it had not gone well, I had made mistakes. Yesterday I spent three hours watching elimination races to learn the tactics and not make mistakes today. It paid off, I think.
“I’m starting from the back of the peloton, because I don’t have a lot of points. So I wanted to get into the top of the peloton quickly and ride flat out all the time so I was never in danger. I wanted to give my 100% the whole race, not to conserve energy.
It may seem counterproductive as an angle of attack: this missing energy made him miss the podium.
“When I was conserving my energy, that’s when I was getting knocked out,” he explained. You don’t learn when you get knocked out. Only a little was missing; that’s the secret to having that little ounce of energy left over. It will happen.”
Among the ladies, Sarah van Dam fought hard for the leaders, but had to settle for sixth place.
Bonhomme and Desgagnés gain experience
In the individual pursuit, the journey of Canadians Ariane Bonhomme and Adèle Desgagnés came to an end in qualifying.
Bonhomme and Desgagnés finished sixth and seventh respectively. Only the first four cyclists obtained their pass.
The Canadian team had no target for this discipline, which is not on the Olympic program, but which is contested in the World Cup.
“It was mainly to allow them to gain experience at this level of competition and to position themselves on the international scene, explained the director of high performance at Cycling Canada, Kris Westwood. They will be able to continue to progress in this discipline and possibly participate in the World Championships. It’s never a bad thing to have more experience on the international stage.”
The final, played in the evening, was won by the Australian Maeve Plouffe, ahead of the Italians Vittoria Bussi and Silvia Zanardi.
In scratch, Alberta’s Ngaire Barraclough finished 16th. The 19-year-old cyclist briefly led the race in the second half of the competition, but was quickly relegated to the back of the pack when the big guns began to thunder.
It is also the reigning world champion, the Italian Martina Fidanza, who won the event, ahead of the Dutch Lonneke Uneken and the American Lily Williams.
On the men’s side, Alberta’s Jackson Kinniburgh finished 10th. Briton Rhys Britton, bronze medalist at the last Worlds, Spaniard Erik Martorell Hara and Italian Mattia Pinazzi made it to the podium.