By Martin Cleary
During the past three weeks, the Ottawa cycling community has experienced an unprecedented showing of excellence from its stable of international road warriors.
Derek Gee, Michael Woods, Carson Miles and Matteo Dal-Cin created an historic amount of cycling excitement in that 21-day period, by winning titles, almost winning titles, earning stage wins and standing on medal podiums.
When the Giro d’Italia, the first of three Grand Tour stage races, ended on May 28, Derek Gee of Osgoode, ON., had earned unexpected rock-star status among European fans. At the start, he only hoped to survive the three-week marathon in his Grand Tour debut. But in the end, he thrived like no one expected. Gee was the second best cyclist in the points and mountain classifications, and earned the most combative rider award.
Gee’s dogged, fighting spirit on the Italian roads was inhaled by his Israel-Premier Tech teammate Michael Woods of Ottawa. Woods, who encouraged team officials to enter Gee in the Giro, took the imaginary baton from his Canadian peer and spun his own cycling magic.
Two days before the start of the defence of his title in the four-stage La Route d’Occtanie-La Depeche du Midi in southern France, Woods was runner-up in the Mont Ventoux Challenge. It was a good sign of what was to come from the former national distance runner.
After finishing eighth and 27th in the first two stages of La Route d’Occtanie-La Depeche du Midi, Woods won the third stage from Gimont to Nistos-Cap-Nestes in 28°C heat over 189 kilometres. It was his 12th stage, solo or GC win in his 11th year on the pro circuit.
Woods won that stage by three seconds, which moved him into first place on the GC standings. On Sunday, Woods continued to receive exceptional race support from his teammates, completing the fourth and final stage in 18th place for an unbeatable total time of 14 hours, five minutes, 10 seconds. He won the GC by 10 seconds over Cristian Rodriguez of Team Arkea Samsic and posted his 13th career victory.
“It’s really special to win this race overall for a second time,” Woods said. “This is an area I really like, not far from my home in Andorra and to have my family and kids there to watch me on Father’s Day was something really special.
“Stevie (Williams) was super impressive, climbing with the best climbers in the race, managing everything so well. I’m really proud about how he raced. The whole team did so well again today.”
Woods also paid tribute to Williams on Saturday for his exceptional work, which resulted in his individual stage win.
“I’m really pleased with the result (Saturday),” Woods said. “The teamwork was exceptional, especially Stevie Williams (who) was just amazing.
“I think he went extra deep for his friend Gino Mader and it was really inspirational. The whole team rode incredibly well. I’m really proud to finish it off for the guys and to take the leader’s jersey.”
Mader, who rode for Bahrain Victorious and was a former Giro d’Italia stage winner, crashed into a ravine and died Thursday during the Tour de Suisse. He was 26.
“I’m really happy with this race (overall). My form is good and I’m super excited for the Tour now. I’m ready to go,” enthused Woods, who will enter his fourth Tour de France, beginning July 1.
Woods hasn’t completed his last two Tours in 2022 and 2021, despite having third-place stage results in each one, and was 32nd overall in his 2019 debut.
Domestically, Carson Miles and Matteo Dal-Cin, who both ride for Toronto Hustle, finished third and fourth respectively in the GC standings at the Tour de Beauce, which was held for five days in and around Quebec City.
They almost tied for third place in the GC as Miles had an accumulated time of 16 hours, 37 minutes and nine seconds, which was one second faster than Dal-Cin at 16:37:10. Their results were the best-ever recorded by Ottawa cyclists at the Tour de Beauce, which started in 1986.
Miles posted four top-10 results, including a Stage 3 victory in Lac Megantic. He also was fourth in Stage 4 and ninth in Stage 5.
Dal-Cin earned third-place results in Stage 1 and Stage 5 for his fourth-place overall standing and also was fifth in Stage 3.
In the Points Classification standings, Miles was sixth at 43, while Dal-Cin was eighth at 42. The King of the Mountain Classification had Dal-Cin eighth at 24 points and Miles ninth at 22 points.
They played key roles in Toronto Hustle placing second in the Team Classification.
MORE SPECIAL OLYMPICS GOLD FOR RHYTHMIC GYMNAST KIMANA MAR
Ottawa’s Kimana Mar added to her vast gold medal collection in rhythmic gymnastics Monday at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin.
Mar, who won a combined 12 gold medals and 13 in total at her first two World Summer Games in Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, placed first overall in the Level 4.1 all-around competition with an unmatched 55.65 points.
Bolivia’s Maria Jose Pers was second at 49.45 points.
Mar scored the highest marks in three of the four events – ball at 15.25 points, ribbon at 14.45 points and clubs at 13.40 points. She was second in rope at 12.55 points.
Mar, 24, is the only athlete from Ottawa and area representing Team Canada at the World Summer Games.
Read More: Rhythmic gymnastics more than a sport for Special Olympics champion Kimana Mar
AMERICAS GIRLS’ U16 BASKETBALL GOLD ON THE LINE FOR CANADA
Canada was scheduled to play the United States late Monday night for the sixth time in the final of the FIBA Americas girls’ U16 basketball championship in Yucatan, Mexico.
Both countries entered the gold-medal game with identical 5-0 records and have earned berths in the 2024 FIBA girls’ U17 World Cup tournament.
After showing its strengths in the preliminary round with solid wins over Brazil, 69-37, Dominican Republic, 90-40, and Argentina, 92-45, Canada defeated Mexico 71-44 in the quarterfinals and Puerto Rico 77-49 in the semifinals.
Ottawa’s Rachael Okokoh has seen limited playing time, but pulled down eight rebounds and scored three points against Dominican Republic, and two rebounds and two steals against Brazil. She had three minutes of floor time against Puerto Rico and didn’t dress for the Mexico game.
Canada won the Americas U16 title in 2016 and also has earned five silver medals in the past six championships.
CANADA NEEDS WIN TO REACH PAN-AM BASEBALL QUALIFIER FINAL
If Canada can defeat Honduras in Tuesday’s scheduled final round-robin baseball game at the Americas Pan-American Qualifier in Buenos Aires, Argentina, it will qualify for the championship game against Argentina.
The winning team will advance to the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 21-27.
Canada won its second game in three outings by an 11-1 count over Peru. Earlier, Canada defeated Panama 6-5, but lost to Argentina 8-3.
Gatineau’s Phillippe Aumont pitched two innings against Panama and surrendered three hits, two runs, two earned runs, one walk and added one strikeout.
OTTAWA ATHLETES NAMED TO ATHLETICS CANADA TEAMS
Three athletes from the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club and one athlete from C.A.N.I. Athletics have been named to the Athletics Canada team for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) track and field championships.
In the men’s U23 competition, Lions’ David Adeleye will compete in the men’s 110-metre hurdles, while Kevin Robertson, who recently placed 12th at the NCAA track and field championships, will race the 3,000-metre steeplechase, which has become his specialty.
C.A.N.I. Athletics sprinter Will Batley will step into the starter’s blocks for the men’s U18 200 metres, while the Lions’ Derek Strachan has been entered in the 2,000-metre steeplechase.
The NACAC championships are scheduled to take place July 21-31 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The Lions will have double representation at the Commonwealth Youth Games with John McGowan of Kemptville in the men’s 100 metres and Leslie Estwick serving as a team coach.
The Games are slated for Aug. 4-11 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
UNITED STATES BLANKS CANADA IN NATIONS LEAGUE SOCCER FINAL
The Canadian men’s soccer team missed an opportunity to win its first tournament gold medal since the 2000 Gold Cup, when it lost the CONCACAF Nations League final 2-0 to the United States in Las Vegas.
The United States received $1 million for winning the tournament, which was created to eliminate friendly matches at this time of the year.
Canada reached the final defeating Panama 2-0 in the semifinals on goals by Jonathan David of Gloucester and Alphonso Davies.
CANADA SITS 10TH IN WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE
Canada is in 10th place in the 16-country Volleyball Nations League for women, after winning only one of three matches in Hong Kong, China.
In its opening match, Canada needed the minimum three sets to shut out Bulgaria 25-15, 25-13, 25-15. But Canada dropped its final two games – 25-15, 25-22, 25-20 to Turkey and 22-25, 25-13, 25-17, 23-25, 15-10 to Dominican Republic.
Ottawa’s Shainah Joseph, who plays the opposite position, scored one attack point against Bulgaria, and two attack points and three digs against the Dominican Republic.
PETERS ELIMINATED IN FIRST ROUND OF ARCHERY WORLD CUP
Ottawa’s Eric Peters lost his first-round men’s recurve match 6-4 to Germany’s Moritz Wieser at the World Cup stage 3 archery tournament in Medellin, Colombia.
Peters qualified 36th overall out of 95 archers for the bracket competition with 663 points.
In men’s recurve team competition, Peters was part of the Canadian team, which finished 13th at 1,986 points out of 22 countries.
KING FIFTH AT ROWING WORLD CUP RACE
Ottawa Rowing Club product Josh King and the Canadian men’s eight team placed fifth at the season’s second World Cup event in Italy. Canada finished in 5:29.99, while Great Britain won in 5:23.81.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.