05/19/2012 11:39 EDT | Updated 07/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Elite female cyclists descend on Gatineau

Some of the world's top female cyclists are racing in the Grand Prix de Gatineau this weekend in one of their last opportunities to qualify for the Summer Olympics.

And local teams are eager for a slice of the action.

"It's a really great opportunity to learn from women that have been racing for a really long time and have amazing skills, so that's pretty much our goal for this year," said Michelle Gauthier.

She said she was also looking forward to striking up a few conversations with the elite cyclists in the peloton — the large, main group of riders.

"It's a little nerve racking sometimes, because you're a little awe-inspired, but the thing that surprised me most was how down to earth they tend to be," Gauthier said.

Race is good mental preparation, says Clara Hughes

Canadian national cycling champion and double Summer Olympic medal winner Clara Hughes said she was looking forward to riding with the younger members of her team, which she said keeps her "fresh."

This weekend's race is one of the last chances for cyclists to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.

"Any chance I have to do a time trial with, you know, some of the best time trialers in the world is good preparation for me, not just physically but mentally," she said.

The Canadian Olympic cycling team will be announced June 24, just a little more than a month before the start of the Games.