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.
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.