On Sunday

Mayor calls for boost to Tour de White Rock prize money

White Rock cycling event has among lowest payouts on BC Superweek race calendar.

White Rock’s mayor is calling on the city and local business community to help fund a larger prize pool for next year’s Tour de White Rock.

In his mayor’s report in White Rock council Monday, Wayne Baldwin noted just 11 riders completed Sunday’s 134-km men’s Peace Arch News’ Road Race. He suggested a lack of cash incentive was to blame.

“That may be a function of the prize money,” he said of the race’s high attrition rate.

“It would appear that in order to keep people in the race, we’re going to have to have more prize money. A lot of (the cyclists) just said ‘to heck with it, it’s not worth it.’”

Prior to the race, speaking at a VIP and sponsors breakfast Sunday morning at The Boathouse, he made similar statements regarding the Tour de White Rock prize budget.

Each event on the BC Superweek schedule is responsible for setting its own prize amounts, said Superweek race director Mark Ernsting.

“If the City of White Rock wishes to contribute more, then that is a decision they internally have to make,” he said in an email to Peace Arch News Tuesday.

While Baldwin is correct in that the Tour de White Rock has one of the smaller overall prize purses of the BC Superweek events – just $15,000 total – the limited number of riders completing Sunday’s course is likely less a result of prize money, or lack thereof, but rather race rules.

Seventy-six cyclists began the men’s race, but after 11 laps on the long course – which begins on Marine Drive and winds through the White Rock hillside – the race moves to a much shorter loop for the final five laps, and only riders who are on the same lap as the lead group are allowed to continue.

The Tour de White Rock’s $15,000 prize pool is, along with the Giro de Burnaby, the second lowest of the five Superweek events, though the Burnaby race is a one-day, one-race affair, while White Rock hosts three different races – the hill climb, criterium and road race.

The one-race UBC Grand Prix has a $10,000 cash-prize purse.

The three-race Tour de Delta – which this year garnered an official International Cycling Union (UCI) designation for one of its two criterium races, thus attracting a deeper field of pro cyclists – has a total prize pool of $25,000.

The Gastown Grand Prix is the richest event of the week, with a total of $45,000 being dished out to the top cyclists.

The winner of the Tour de White Rock’s men’s road race, Zach Bell, received $1,500, while the winner of the women’s 80-km road race, Kathryn Donovan, won $750. The men’s criterium champ, Florenz Knauer, won $750, and women’s winner Devon Gorry pocketed $400.

The men’s winner of the Gastown Grand Prix, meanwhile – American cyclist Ken Hanson – received $15,000, and the top woman, Leah Kirchmann, $8,000.

The total prize purse for BC Superweek is $110,000.

– with files from Tracy Holmes

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