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Orica-GreenEdge’s Svein Tuft showed the cycling world just how well he can time trial. He won back-to-back titles in the time trial and road race at the Canadian road championships this weekend, riding the rest of the field off his wheel.
After missing the nationals last year, Tuft returned to secure his ninth time trial title on Thursday in Lac-Mégantic. He went on to win the road race on Saturday, in similar time trial fashion, after riding solo for more than 120km. He won the race with a minute to spare over chasers Ryan Roth (Silber Pro Cycling), teammate Christian Meier and Michael Woods (5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda).
“I rode the time trial course during the days before the race,” Tuft said. “Christian and I had talked about the road race quite a bit coming into it. In other years, we’ve been conservative and have waited until the end to save a little horsepower. Sometimes when you play that game you end up missing out and having to race from behind, and that’s a difficult way to do it.
“We decided to throw everything into keeping the race hard and never be satisfied with the move. We were in an initial breakaway with some strong guys but to me that was the same as being in a big peloton, nothing had improved. Some guys wanted to try to ride easily and then try and make a move at the end but I said, ‘no way, that’s not how it’s gonna be.’”
Tuft last earned double national titles in 2011 in Toronto while racing for the now disbanded SpiderTech team.
He had a successful spring campaign where he earned the pink jersey during the opening stage at the Giro d’Italia where his Orica-GreenEdge team won the team time trial — Tuft was the first rider on the team to cross the line and the first rider to wear leader’s jersey in the Grand Tour.
“I never would have expected anything like that to happen for me,” Tuft said. “The way that we did it, with the team that had been working together for such a long time for that event, so it was really special that we won the race that way.
“After the Giro, I wanted to have a good go at the nationals and use up some of that work that I had done in Italy,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to feel like but I was feeling good after the Giro. It’s always nice to wear the Canadian colors in the WorldTour races too.”
Tuft said that day at the Giro, standing on the podium, wearing the pink jersey and spraying the crowds with champagne was one of the top-three best moments of his career. The other two? His silver-medal performance at the time trial world championships in 2008 in Varese, Italy, and his first-ever national time trial victory in 2004, won after he quit the sport for a year.
Orica-GreenEdge has not announced its official roster for the upcoming Tour de France, however, Tuft said that his next big goal is the time trial at the Commonwealth Games, which take place in Glasgow, Scotland on July 31.
“It’s always something that I’ve hoped for, but you don’t have control of everything you do up until that point,” Tuft told Cyclingnews. “I would love to go to Glasgow and have a good one, and feel the way that I did before the nationals.
He also feels indebted to his team for their support at the Giro d’Italia and would like to repay them with a strong performance at the team time trial world championships. Orica-GreeEdge never won the event but have earned the bronze medal in 2012 and silver in the 2013 edition.
“For me, the precedence is on the Worlds team time trial because we haven’t taken that title yet,” Tuft said. “We are a team that just keeps getting better and better. We have a focus on that event.
“I always place a big emphasis on the team time trial at the world championships and that will be my next big thing to work toward after the Commonwealth Games.”