Riders brave scorching heat for Tour de White Rock

Annual event wraps up BC Superweek and draws large spectator crowd

Perhaps owing to the scorching temperatures – or perhaps because riders knew the grueling, hilly Tour de White Rock road-race course would eventually take its toll – the women’s field of Sunday’s 80-km started out with a rather conservative pace.

Ironic, then, that it ended in a sprint.

Victoria’s Meghan Rathwell beat the 30-degree heat, and the rest of the field, crossing the finish line on Marine Drive first in a time of two hours, 28 minutes and 23 seconds. But it was close, with four riders crossing the line within four-tenths of a second of each other.

“It was really hard,” said Rathwell. “I didn’t think it was going to come down to a sprint. I thought it was going to be all spread out. It was hard out there today.

“I’m not really a sprinter, but it kind of suits me, the up-hills, so I guess it was OK.”

Denise Ramsden finished in second place – her fourth podium finish of BC Superweek – while the third-place finisher was Team Colombia’s Maria Luisa Calle. Allison Jackson, who broke away from the pack early and led for most of the race, ended up seventh.

Jackson captured the overall Tour de White Rock omnium title, after a dominant weekend in which she won both Friday’s hill-climb and Saturday’s criterium in uptown White Rock.

The women’s race was not without its controversy, however. On the second lap of the race, on Marine Drive near East Beach, a car pulled out onto the course in front of the cyclists. Victoria’s Anika Todd ended up clipping the side of the vehicle and crashing. Despite injuries that included a gash on her chin and an injured arm, she finished the race in fourth spot.

Unlike the women’s race, which ended in a mad dash for the finish line, Sunday’ 134-km men’s road race was won with Ottawa’s Matteo Dal-Cin cruising to victory all by himself.

During the 11 long laps of the race, no rider took control, and it was still anybody’s race to win until the final four laps of the short course, when Dal-Cin burst away from the pack, gaining valuable time on the circuit’s steep climbs.

He ended up winning in 3:32:35 – 62 seconds faster than second-place cyclist Pierrick Naud of Montreal.

Third place went to Garrett McLeod.

“It feels fantastic (to win). I was really aggressive all day to try and make something happen,” Dal-Cin said. “The team rode fantastic. We were all over the moves all day, so I couldn’t feel any better.”

Florenz Knauer won the overall omnium title, after winning the criterium and placing second behind Brandon Etzl in the hill climb Friday. He was seventh in the road race.

“(I do have) a lot of experience (at the White Rock criterium),” Knauer said Saturday. “The first time I was here, three years ago, I was third. Last year, second and this year I win, so it’s good.”

For Etzl, 19, the hill-climb title was his second in a row, though this year’s no doubt took its toll on his body. After his winning run on the 700-m sprint up Buena Vista Avenue, he had to excuse himself from the stage – where he was giving a post-race interview – because he became physically sick.

Friday men’s hill climb

Saturday men’s criterium

Saturday women’s criterium

Sunday Peace Arch News road race


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