Canadian Cyclist


July 5/10 19:42 pm - Tour de Delta Attracts Top North American Teams

Posted by Editoress on 07/5/10

Top local riders and their US-based teammates raving about past experiences aren’t the only reason BC Superweek continues to attract fields loaded with racers from the best American professional teams. Coaches and directors with similar background experiences - both on and off the bike - also play a key role in the talent rolling into the Tour de Delta and Tour de White Rock.

The list includes a pair of three-time Canadian Olympians: Eric Wohlberg, who once won eight straight Canadian time trial titles, is now Team Director for Bissell Pro Cycling, and Gord Fraser, who posted over 200 wins before retiring in 2006, is now Sports Director for United Healthcare. Add in Jacob Erker's recent move to Performance Manager with Kelly Benefits Strategies Pro Cycling after a decade of racing, and BC Superweek again has plenty of support from the top American professional cycling teams.

All three have nothing but good things to say about BC Superweek, both in terms of quality, and what it’s meant to developing local riders.

"The quality of events is unsurpassed," said Erker. "The prize money is awesome and the ability to prospect future talent is also a bonus. The US teams are always present for these races because they know the racing will be at a high level."

Erker is sending six riders this year: Olympian Zach Bell, fellow Canadians Ryan Anderson, who won Tour de Delta criterium and overall in 2009, David Veilleux and Marsh Cooper, as well as Americans Alex Candelario and Cheyne Hoag.

The 10th Tour de Delta kicks off with the MK Delta Prologue on Friday, July 9th, with riders blasting down a big steel ramp and onto a quick three kilometre course, with top speeds reaching 60 km/hour. It continues with the Canadian Criterium championship on the line at the Brenco Criterium, a multi-lap race through the streets and tight corners of Ladner's fishing village on Saturday, and wraps up with the gruelling White Spot Road Race on Sunday, July 11th.

Wohlberg said hosting a Canadian championship only increases the already strong drawing power of the Tour de Delta and BC Superweek.

"It will be a big draw," said Wohlberg, who is grudgingly only sending local product Rob Britton because of a rash of injuries that required overworking - and now resting - key Bissell riders earlier. "For many years the US criterium championship has been a big, international stand alone event and now that we have the same in Canada, it will be great. While the whole Superweek program has always been very enticing, this new element should attract even more top riders. I anticipate a very fast evening. Trust me, it will be a huge spectacle."

BC Superweek then continues with three more races from July 16-18 at the 31st Tour de White Rock, a challenging three-event weekend with a history of top riders that includes serving as Canada's pre-Olympic camp in 1992. As part of that past, directors like Wohlberg are always eager to return. As a bonus it's also become a great place to find the next wave of top talent.

"Just like Canadian riders, we are proud of this series and look for opportunities to help Canadian riders move up in the cycling world," Wohlberg said. "Any rider who does well in the BC Superweek fields warrants a serious look. I remember one of editions where Zach Bell smoked everyone in the Delta hillclimb, and I was wondering who the hell is this guy. Well we know him now."

Spotting that emerging talent has become even more important in the last 10 years, adds Fraser, pointing to an increase in good North American teams and even some ProTour level squads dipping into the talent here.

"Success in fast criteriums like Ladner or demanding road races like Delta or White Rock alerts teams to emerging talent," Fraser said, adding the atmosphere at BC Superweek helps bring the top talent back again.

"The BC week has a feel to it that endears itself to the riders. Fantastic races and wonderful hospitality made it a priority for me."

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