Posted by Editoress on 09/13/10
Inaugural RBC GranFondo Whistler cycling event features 4,000 riders, 122 kilometres of spectacular scenery
The inaugural RBC GranFondo Whistler finished as it began – with four thousand cycling enthusiasts celebrating the unique challenge provided by 122 pedal-churning kilometres of spectacular and unforgiving west coast terrain. At the finish line celebration in Whistler, BC, looks of nervousness and excitement in the “peloton” that marked the start of the epic journey had given way to that of exhaustion, relief, and satisfaction.
“The camaraderie, the energy, the support and the shared sense of accomplishment that these cyclists experienced today will stay with them, and provides that magical quality that defines a mass participation event delivered on a grand scale”, said Neil McKinnon, Co-founder of the RBC GranFondo Whistler.
“We salute all of the riders in reaching the finish line, and thank them for giving this event its character and its identity; I’m confident that the RBC GranFondo Whistler has defined the GranFondo experience for North America, and we look forward to bringing this event to communities across Canada in the near future.”
Under clear skies, the men’s Giro race kicked off the RBC GranFondo Whistler at 6:50 a.m., followed one minute later by the start of the women’s Giro. The category 1, 2, and 3 racers set the tone for day by powering out of the start chute on Georgia street, through the Stanley Park causeway, and over the Lions Gate bridge before tackling the day’s first big climb on Taylor Way in West Vancouver and spreading out along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway. At the finish, Andrew Pinfold of United Healthcare edged out Nic Hamilton (2nd, Trek/Red Truck) and Tim Abercrombie (3rd Garneau Evolution) in a furious sprint along Blackcomb Way to the line in a time of 3 hours, 14 minutes and 29 seconds.
On the women’s side, Leah Guloien (Total Restoration) took top honours, also by way of a sprint finish, in a time of 3 hours, 37 minutes and 2 seconds. Second place went to Leah Kirchmann (Trek/Red Truck – same time), who nudged Claire Cameron (Mighty Riders – same time).
For many RBC GranFondo Whistler participants, the ride had less to do with time, and everything to do with the journey. While some rode to raise funds for charity or for fitness, others simply rode to feed their passion for the sport. Seventy two year old Gary Baker was one such rider. Gary and his wife Brenda (57) crossed the finish line together in the identical time of 4 hours, 14 minutes and 23 seconds. He said, “I love riding, period. This was just such a good opportunity to ride with no traffic, and the event was so well organized, it was truly first class all the way.”
The RBC GranFondo Whistler would not have been possible without the support of, and collaboration with great corporate and municipal partners. Title sponsor RBC not only supported the vision of the RBC GranFondo Whistler organizers, but also worked with them to make a significant contribution to sustainable water practices by opting to make the event 100 per cent bottled-water free, and donating $25,000 to organizations committed to water conservation through its Blue Water programs as part of its sponsorship. “There’s no greater feeling than riding through breathtaking scenery with a big group of dedicated riders. RBC is proud to be the inaugural sponsor of what is destined to be a world-class event,” said Graham MacLachlan, participant and Regional President, RBC.
The resort community of Whistler provided a stunning backdrop to the finish of the RBC GranFondo Whistler, and in keeping with their sterling reputation as expert event hosts, provided essential services and support to the event from the early planning stages. Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed completed the GranFondo as a race participant. "This event has been just incredible, for riders and for the Whistler community," says Melamed. " The RBC GranFondo Whistler is a perfect fit for Whistler as it builds strong linkages to Vancouver and this growing sport. Local business, residents and visitors are thrilled at the immediate success of this new event.”
Founding Riders and volunteers are eligible for priority access registration for RBC GranFondo 2011, and can register online at rbcgranfondowhistler.com starting September 13th at 12:00 p.m. (all participants and volunteers will be given a code to access early registration). General public online registration begins September 20 at 12:00 p.m. The cut-off date for early bird registration is June 30, 2011. Age restrictions apply to the GranFondo and Medio (must be 19+). There are no age restrictions for Giro riders.
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