Even while its national championships are still taking place, Canada today announced its road team for the 2012 Olympic Games, naming Giro d'Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal as its sole representative in the men's road race and time trial. Clara Hughes, Denise Ramsden and Joëlle Numainville will comprise the women's team.
Hesjedal will compete in his second consecutive Grand Tour as the Garmin-Barracuda classification contender for the Tour de France, and although the race finishes just six days before the men's road race, he hopes to be able to represent well.
"I am honored and excited to represent Canada in the Olympic Games," Hesjedal said in a press release. "It is my hope that the sport of cycling continues to grow in Canada and that the spirit of the Olympics shines an even greater spotlight on it. I am extremely proud to represent Canada."
Hughes will lead the women's road squad in terms of both strength and experience: the Specialized-lululemon rider is heading to her sixth Olympic Games and will be seeking her first gold medal in cycling to add to the one she earned in speed skating. Hughes has six Olympic medals - four in the Winter Games and two bronze medals in cycling in the 1996 Summer Games (time trial and road race). She will compete in both events together with Ramsden.
"It will be my sixth Olympic Games and yet I still feel the same pride and joy to represent my country. After twelve years, I am excited to compete again at the summer Olympics. I am heading to London with the confidence that I could not be better prepared to perform at my best in London," commented Hughes.
Numainville, the 2010 Canadian road race champion, has been establishing herself as one of the top sprinters in North America and has raised her standing in the international scene with a third place at the Tour of Flanders.
"I am very pleased to represent Canada at the Olympic Games in London. I admire the girls on the team," Numainville said. "I will give my 100%. I can bring a lot to the team, at different levels and at the same time, I will do my best to be part of the final sprint. I know girls from other countries because I have been racing with them for several years. I can not wait!"
Ramsden is a surprise choice for Team Canada: while ranked behind riders like Rhae-Christie Shaw (Exergy-Twenty12), Ramsden at 21 is one of Canada's more experienced racers, having represented her country at the last two elite world championships and twice at the junior level.
"Going to the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was 4 years old," said Ramsden. "I'm very proud and excited to be nominated to the Canadian team. I have had the opportunity to represent Canada at World championships and the Pan American Games, but the chance to represent Canada at the Olympics is on another level entirely. I hope to be able to help our team win a medal in the road race for Canada."