Posted by Editoress on 07/8/13
The Tour de Delta, the first event of nine days of racing at BC Superweek concluded on Sunday with the men's and women's road races in Tsawwassen. Canadian crit champion Leah Kirchmann (Optum) took the women's race, with Elle Anderson (Vanderkitten) winning the Omnium points title, while Steve Fisher (Hagen Bermans) repeating as champion in the first time UCI sanctioned men's race.
The 12 kilometre circuit, while lacking any significant climbs, made up for it with a very technical course that twisted and turned through the residential streets of Tsawwassen. Riders were constantly having to brake and accelerate out of corners and over small rises.
The women's seven lap race had numerous breakaway attempts, but the big teams of Now and Novartis, Optum and Vanderkitten all wanted to keep the field together for a sprint. Now and Novartis had won both of the previous criterium stages, and in addition to Kirchmann Optum had Denise Ramsden, only two points behind Anderson in the overall standings. Vanderkitten, of course, were watching every move to make sure that a danger rider didn't sneak away.
The most serious attack came within the final two laps from Catharine Dessureault (Stevens p/b The Cyclery), who moved out to a 30 second lead with less than a lap to go. However, Optum sent Amy Gaffney to the front to pull Dessureault back, and then Ramsden led Kirchmann out of the final corner to set up the sprint. Kirchmann easily won by a few bike lengths, with Anderson ensuring the overall by finishing second. Robin Farina (Now and Novartis) took third. Ramsden finished second overall and Kirchmann third.
"I was a little worried [about Dessureault]," admitted Kirchmann, "but Amy did a really long effort to pull her back. In the final kilometre, Denise came out of the last corner so fast that it put me in a great position for the sprint."
(Note: We have interviews with Kirchmann and Anderson posted HERE)
With the road race moving up to a UCI sanction for the first time, the three events that make up the Tour de Delta could not be treated as an Omnium. The 13 lap lap race exploded early, with attacks happening almost from the gun. Team Canada was extremely aggressive, putting riders in almost every move.
Two laps in and what would prove to be the nucleus of the winning effort took shape, with nine riders breaking free of the peloton. The group included three Team Canada riders - Christian Meier, Nic Hamilton and Nigel Ellsay, plus eventual winner Fisher. Optum was also represented by Tom Soladay, as were multiple other squads, including Trek Red Truck, Team Germany and H&R Block.
Meier was the main driver of the break in the early laps, quickly taking the lead to a minute and then 90 seconds. However, it stuck at that point, and the early cohesion among the group began to falter as the laps increased. Ellsay took over the pacemaking for Canada up front, but Optum were uneasy with having only one rider up front, so with three laps to go, Ryan Anderson (Optum) led six more riders across to the front, including another Team Canada member - Will Routley.
Despite the numbers, it was clear that the Canadian national squad was tiring, with both Meier and Routley coming off the back briefly in the final lap when the attacks started happening. Both made it back, and Routley tried an attack, but the sprinters in the group were not allowing anyone clear.
Fisher went to the front with 150 metres to go, holding off a late charge by German rider Yannick Mayer (Team Baier Landshut) on his left, with Anderson coming in third on his right shoulder.
"It was a long day, the team played it pretty conservative at first, I had three guys in there and they were pretty motivated to keep the gap up," Fisher explained. "So that played well into our hands and my teammate Chris Wingfield came up with two laps to go to help keep that gap up through the sprint."
For Anderson, with two second places and now a third, it was "a bittersweet result," he agreed. "Delta is a special race for me, and I'm happy to be on the podium, but I was looking for that top step. I made a mistake in the final; I came out of the last corner too far back."
(Note: We have interviews with Anderson and Routley posted HERE)