The Killington Mountain School Cycling Team’s Erin Donohue of Norwich, Vt., won the Grand Prix cycliste de Rimouski last Wednesday. With a twelve-second gap over the second-place finisher, a one-minute, 18-second lead over the third-place finisher, and over four and a half minutes on the field, Donohue put in a top-class performance in one of the most challenging junior races in North America.
The Grand Prix cycliste de Rimouski is classified as a Category 1.1 race by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the international governing body for cycling; the only race with a higher status for junior women is the junior world championships. She and KMS teammate Peter Vollers Jr., are riding with Ontario’s Team CHCH in an exchange program.
“All of Erin’s hard work in the last three years came together as she ended up with a colossal solo victory, a win that has landed her firmly in the big time of junior cycling,” KMS Cycling Head Coach Peter Vollers Sr. said.
Although Arianne Bonhomme—the current Canadian road racing champion for junior women—attacked early and was able to open a gap, Donohue and her CHCH teammate Madeleine McConnell were able to counter-attack and catch Bonhomme. The early attack had taken too much energy from Bonhomme for the three to maintain the breakaway and the second group of 10 riders was able to rejoin the lead group. About five kilometers later, Donohue attacked on what she described as a “grindy climb” with McConnell and Canadian rider Josiane Lessard.
With eight kilometers to go, McConnell had dropped back to leave Lessard and Donohue neck-and-neck on one of the last extended climbs. ”Where the climb hurt the most, I just stood up and attacked,” Donohue said. “I remembered [Team CHCH coach] Rick [Lee] saying this was the last part of the course to get away for a solo win, so I just hit it as hard as I could.”Over the last five kilometers, her lead grew to 18 seconds over second-place Lessard and one minute, 18 seconds over third-place McConnell.