Posted by Editoress on 06/23/08
Banff National Park Wins Big With First Bike Fest
Rain and wind couldnt slow down an elite pack of cyclists from across Western Canada as they ended the first annual Banff National Park Bike Fest stage race Sunday morning with two thrilling road races.
Twenty-two women from the strongest two categories of cyclists invited to race this weekend for part of a $15,000 prize purse started out at 8 a.m. in a cool drizzle from the start on Beaver Avenue. But pedaling hard, they soon warmed up on the 13-kilometre circuit. First, they gained speed on the flats of Beaver Ave. and Banff Ave. Then they made the long climb and speedy descent of the winding hills on Tunnel Mountain Dr., before turning onto the flats again of Buffalo St. and Beaver Ave.
After riding in a lead pack of eight for the first 3.5 laps, three cyclists Julie Beveridge of Aarons Womens Pro Cycling Team, Tara Whitten of Velocity Cycling Club, and Heather Kay of the Edmonton Road and Track Club broke away from the main group at the start of the climb up Tunnel Mountain Dr. Exchanging the lead often, they opened a big gap. But with 100 metres to go, Beveridge, a 19-year-old climbing specialist from Calgary on the Canadian national team, raced out from behind Whitten, a 27-year-old sprint specialist from Edmonton. Kay, a 33-year-old from Sherwood Park, followed, and the trio kept their positions right to the finish. Beveridge won the race in 1:32:5, with Kay only two seconds behind.
I dont know how what happened, said a humble Beveridge after the race. (Whitten) has way more power than me. Combined with her Husky Individual Time Trial win on Saturday morning and a top-10 finish Saturday night at the criterium race, Beveridge won the overall stage race with a time of 2:46.08.02. Whitten was second overall in 2:46.30.41.
Just as the women ended their 52-kilometre race, the rain cleared as if on cue for the strong field of 82 men preparing to start the elite mens road race. But the men would have to fight strong headwinds through much of their 104-kilometre race on the same course. A lead group of eight racers broke away from the main pack midway through the race. They opened up a major gap, but not enough to stop Rob Britton, a 23-year-old from Victoria racing for Trek Red Truck Racing Team by MOSAIC, who won the time trial on Saturday morning. Britton made his break at the start of the first hill on Tunnel Mountain Dr. midway through the second-last lap, crossing the finish line with a full-minute advantage and a time of 2:38.46.
I was really tired from yesterday, Britton said after the race. Just about everywhere there were really strong headwinds. The only place to rest was on the uphills.
Tyler Trace, Brittons 23-year-old teammate from Victoria, finished second.
Brittons road race win, combined with his time trial win and a strong showing in the criterium on Saturday, earned him a convincing overall stage race win. His total time of 3:55.28.2 was almost two minutes faster than his closest competition. Cyrus Kangarloo, a 25-year-old from Calgary, finished second overall with a time of 3:57.18.4.
All weekend, racers gushed about how well-organized and fun the races were.
These were the three most fun road races Ive ever done, said Scott Manktelow, an elite racer for the Rundle Mountain Cycling Club. At the awards ceremony, John Stutz, the mayor of Banff, saluted the racers, volunteers and organizers for putting on such an exciting show this weekend.
Its an amazing event, and we look forward to having it for years and years to come.
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