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After a rest day following the time trial, Canada’s top U23 male riders were back at Birds Hill Provincial Park today to compete in the 120 kilometer road race. The calibre was very high with 49 riders taking the start, some of which have been competing in continental teams all season. Racing conditions were much better than yesterday, but not necessarily ideal for stronger riders who were hoping for harsher conditions to make the race more challenging. According to Quebec’s Pier-André Côté, “We wanted to make the race hard because we had a more complete team, with 5 really good athletes. The course was pretty easy and the wind wasn’t a huge factor, so we had to make the race hard and that’s what we did.”

Starting on the first lap, a group of 16 riders took the lead on the main group, distancing themselves by over one minute over the first two laps. Most provinces were represented in this break, including 4 riders from Quebec, 3 from Ontario, 3 from Manitoba, 2 from Alberta, 2 from BC, 1 from Saskatchewan and 1 from Nova Scotia. After the first laps, it was clear to all that the race was set and that the main peloton would not able to bridge a gap of over 3 minutes, with the top riders being part of the lead group.

The front pack saw many attacks throughout the race, with Soucy and O’Donnell going to the front during the last few laps. They were quickly followed by Toppings, Boersma, Lamoureux and Côté, forming a 6-person breakaway that would last until the very end. In the final 500 meters, the crowd went wild cheering for two riders sprinting to the finish line: Pier-André Côté, silver medalist in the ITT, and Alberta’s Connor Toppings. In the last meters, Côté had an obvious lead and made his way slowly across the finish line, followed by Toppings a few seconds later and BC’s Jay Lamoureux.

“Finishing with a sprint was definitely a card that I had,” commented Pier-André Côté. “You try to win the way you can and that’s what I did today.”

Pascal Choquette, the Quebec coach explains, “The outcome of the race was what we expected and on an easy course like that it’s hard to manage to do better than that. We need to isolate the team and it’s hard to do that because with no difficulty on the course everybody is racing against us. In that kind of race, if all the provinces are racing against us it makes it harder to break away. We had two riders in the group at the end, so we knew we had a good chance.”

After 3 full days of racing, the road events will come to an end Saturday evening with the criterium at Red River Exhibition Park. The course being open, spectators will have an amazing view of the riders and will be able to enjoy entertainment on site.