German cyclist Florenz Knauer and Ontario rider Carrie Cartmill were the big winners at Friday night’s Tour de White Rock hillclimb, notching wins in the men’s and women’s competition, respectively.
Knauer, who, upon first eyeing the grueling 700-m stretch of Buena Vista Avenue that made up the climb, said he only wanted to do it once, ended up climbing the hill twice. His first attempt landed him among the top five, which meant competing in a second, final round.
“The first, I hope I don’t ride again, but I must,” Knauer said with a smile through a distinct German accent.
On his second run, the 23-year-old German used a strong kick over the final hill to pull away. Knauer, who was second in the first stage of BC Superweek at the Tour de Delta a week earlier, looked back and pumped his fists as he crossed ahead of local Jacon Schwingboth, and New Zealand’s Louis Crosby of PureBlack Racing.
“I go on (Schwingboth’s) back wheel and full gas at the end,” Knauer said.
For Schwingboth, who rides for the from Glotman Simpson Cycling Club, it was an important podium – his first at BC Superweek after a week of strong efforts, including an early breakaway at the UBC Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old New Westminster native is a six-time national champion on the track. But after winning the 2012 BC Road Race Championship in June, he is hoping to catch the eye of a pro team competing at BC Superweek, which has served as a springboard to a first contract for several other local riders.
“This is really big for me,” Schwingboth said. “I’ve been hitting it really hard trying to get noticed by the pro teams here, been in every breakaway possible so far at Superweek, going for a lot of preems to show I am fast, so this is a good chance for me to showcase my talent with a short time trial, which suits my ability.”
In the women’s climb, Cartmill, 33, picked up her first win since returning to competitive cycling, crossing the finish line well ahead of Rhae-Christie Shaw, who was on Canada’s 2012 Olympic shortlist for the road cycling team, and Kristine Bryniolfson of Trek Red Truck Racing.
“I’ve only ever won a race once,” said Cartmill, riding for Ottawa-based Stevens Racing. “A lot of second and third, but I have a hard time hitting the top step of the podium. It’s really exciting to be up there.”
Cartmill had never been to B.C. before, and while she has ridden hillclimbs before, they were generally longer and less steep. And she certainly never saw one that required the top-five racers to go up again.
“Everybody was going for sixth place – that was the consensus,” she said. “The second time I went to the bottom and had to ask a couple other people – what do you recommend I do from now until an hour from now? Their advice was to spin around and stay warm but not doing anything really intense.”
So Cartmill, who came to BC Superweek on the advice of team manager Jenny Trew, texted a teammate back home, stayed loose, and took a big step up.
“(Trew) suggested it would be a great series of racing with a strong field and really good experience,” she said. “Just a slight step up because I feel that’s the range of racing that I missed.
The Tour de White Rock continues today (Saturday) with the criterium in uptown White Rock, and wraps up Sunday morning with the Peace Arch News Road Race.