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Cycling Canada Cyclisme – Houle 21st of Men’s race with career best power performance
(Rio, BRA – August 10, 2016) Tara Whitten of Calgary was the top Canadian finisher in the Women’s Individual Time Trial on Wednesday at the Olympic Games, finishing seventh.  Whitten finished 34.74 seconds behind gold medalist Kirstin Armstrong of the United States, who won her third consecutive title.  Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia won the silver medal and Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands the bronze.  Canada’s second entrant in the race, Karol-Ann Canuel of Amos, Quebec, finished 13th.
The 29.7-kilometre course was one of the most difficult in Olympic history, with two major climbs and twisting descents.  Steady rain and gusting winds throughout the event made it even more difficult.
Whitten, the Canadian national champion, was the eighth rider to start, and quickly set a benchmark time of 45 minutes and 1.16 seconds.  Her time kept her in the Hot Seat through eight riders before Elisa Borghini of Italy finally took the lead by 9.22 seconds.
“It was not fun in those conditions,” agreed Whitten, “but I was actually happy that it was not hot.  The rain made it very technical on the descents, and we had to change the front wheel because of the gusting winds.  I took the descent quite cautiously because the roads were pretty slippery.  I noticed even on some of the climbs that getting out of the saddle my rear wheel was slipping.”
“I have to be happy with my ride, because I felt like I left everything on the road.  I was really hoping and aiming for a medal, for sure, so it is disappointing, especially because I’m pretty close in the times.”
“I came into these Olympics with a little less pressure; in London I was former world champion in the Omnium and Team Pursuit medalist, so I definitely had more pressure.  But I felt like I was a medal contender here, so disappointing.”
“It’s amazing to see Kirstin Armstrong become a three-time Olympic champion; she knows how to perform on the day, and congratulations to her.”
For Canuel, who was Canada’s top finisher in the Road Race last Sunday, the conditions made it difficult.
“It was ugly out there,” commented Canuel. “It was raining and cold, and I had been hoping for a hot, sunny day.  It was hard today, and I gave it 100%.  this is what I was capable of today.  I know I have to keep working on my time trial to get better.  It was awesome to be here; I really happy to have been selected.  Now I hope to be able to come back to the Olympics again.”
Hugo Houle of Sainte-Perpétue, Quebec, finished 21st on Wednesday, in the Men’s Time Trial at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Houle finished four minutes and 46.62 seconds behind Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, who won the gold medal.  Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands won the silver medal and Christopher Froome of Great Britain took bronze.
The 54.5-kilometre course was one of the most difficult in Olympic history, with the men completing two laps of a circuit that included major climbs and twisting descents.  The men started with wet roads that gradually dried, and gusting winds throughout the event made it even more difficult.
Houle was the second rider off in the final wave of riders and had a strong start, catching the rider in front of him.  At the intermediate time split he was 20th, but dropped one spot in the final run in to the finish.
“For me it was a personal best performance,” said Houle. “The result is not as good as I would have liked, I would have like to finish between 10 and 15.  But I did my best with what I had, it was as fast as I could go. In a time trial you have to keep pushing, keep pushing.  I tried to enjoy the experience as much as possible, and it was an honour to be here and represent Canada.  I know what I have to do for the next four years – to train hard to be with the best.  I’m making progress, but I’m not there yet.”
“It was a really technical course, especially with the rain at the beginning.  On the descents I went pretty conservative because I didn’t want to crash.  It was a really nice course, but you had to really manage your power and pace yourself.  The climbing was hard, especially the really steep part on a time trial bike.  It had a bit of everything, so it was a good course for an Olympic time trial.”
Jacques Landry, Director of High Performance for Canada, summed up the Road events at the end of the Men’s Time Trial. “It was always a long shot to do anything in the Road Races; Leah [Kirchmann] didn’t have the legs and Mike Woods is really only in his 20th race of the season because of numerous injuries.  So for the road races we weren’t expecting anything.”
“On the time trial side of things, I’ll be honest, for Tara [Whitten] I was hoping for a medal. I think she’s capable of it, but she was just beat by some stronger women on the day.  She did a really good technical race and she really did dig deep.  So that would be the [event] where I’m slightly disappointed, but not too much.  I don’t think we would change the strategy going in because she has demonstrated that she is one of the top time trialists that we’ve ever had.”
Cycling Canada is the governing body for competitive cycling in Canada. Founded in 1882, Cycling Canada aims to create and sustain an effective system that develops talented Canadian cyclists to achieve Olympic, Paralympic, and World Championship medal performances. With the vision of being a leading competitive cycling nation by 2020 celebrating enhanced international success, increased national participation and world class event hosting, Cycling Canada manages the High-Performance team, hosts national and international events and administers community programs to promote Cycling in Canada. For more information, please visit:
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Guy Napert-Frenette
Cycling Canada Cyclisme
Cell. 403 669-5015