SEARCH 2000 Games

Monday, July 17, 2000
PROFILE: Genevieve Jeanson
Team helps Jeanson get to Olympics

PETERBOROUGH (CP) -- Only a few days earlier, it had looked like war between cycling prodigy Genevieve Jeanson and her rivals, Lyne Bessette and Clara Hughes.

But the three acted like a team in the women's road race at the Canadian cycling championships yesterday, earning the 18-year-old Jeanson a trip to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

In what Jeanson called "a race within a race," the Lachine, Que., native earned an automatic berth on Canada's team by finishing first among the five riders who had previously met Olympic qualifying standards.

Two others -- almost certain to be Bessette and Hughes -- will be added by a selection committee, which will also chose a four-member men's team.

Czeslaw Lukaszwicz of Chateaugay, Que., earned one berth by winning the 224-kilometre men's road race ahead of Gord Fraser of Nepean and Brian Walton of North Delta, B.C.

Fraser, a sprint specialist, is also assured of going to Sydney because he is Canada's top-ranked racer. Walton and Eric Wohlberg of Levack, Ont., are the favourites to be selected.

"Lyne and I are both happy," said Hughes, the veteran on a women's team with a good shot at winning at least one medal in Sydney. "We want Genevieve on the team with us.

"We think we're the strongest group to represent Canada. Our plan worked. I'm so happy with the outcome."

Sandy Espeseth of Victoria actually won the wet 119-kilometre race, leading in a group of eight that split early on from the main pack to finish the nine laps of a 13.2-kilometre street course in three hours eight minutes 59 seconds.

The five favourites stayed back in an agonizingly slow-moving peleton, watching one another like hawks and chasing down any attempts to break away.

"I decided not to attack because it would do me no good," said Jeanson, last year's world junior champion in both road racing and the time trial. "The girls from the Saturn team (Bessette and Hughes) were great.

"They gave me a chance."

Hughes, a double bronze medallist at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, had all but cinched an Olympic berth on Thursday, when she edged Jeanson in a controversial time trial.

So Hughes let Bessette break into a sprint as they neared the finish line, giving her teammate the chance for an automatic berth.

But she was just as pleased to see Jeanson follow on Bessette's rear wheel and then roar by.

"I heard Lyne say: 'Go, go,' so I went hard," said Jeanson, who finished 19th overall. "I was surprised and delighted.

"I just wanted to win my place in Sydney. I was the least experienced of the group and I knew I had to win."

"When she passed, I was glad it was Genevieve," added Bessette. "I wanted it to be me, her and Clara on the team, so I said go, go."

The two other candidates, Anne Samplonius of Oakville and Annie Gariepy of Bromont, Que., who both had club teammates in the pack, were left behind.

A glowering Gariepy felt ganged-up upon and was not happy that the favourites didn't try to win the race.

"I had to win, but it was such a negative race," she said. "I didn't think it would be like that.

"I thought we would race and the strongest would win."

After the time trial last Thursday, when Jeanson's coach, Andre Aubut, protested Hughes' victory, there looked to be bad blood between the camps.

Jeanson was rebuked by Hughes when the young rider's entourage held her back from the post-race podium ceremony.

Jeanson may have won Hughes and Bessette over by deciding on her own to step up and accept second place. And Aubut wrote an apology to the Canadian Cycling Association.

"Genevieve and I talked about it later," said Hughes. "There were no hard feelings.

"I respect her and I know she respects me. I'm looking forward to going to Sydney with her. I think we'll have one of the strongest teams there."
Genevieve Jeanson in the news
Jeanson's coach blows off a little steam
Canadians bicker after failing
Jeanson a dark horse in the medal race
Jeanson in pictures
11th in Sydney
RONA sponsorship
In profile
A real Tiger