Sports

Cyclists set for Tour de White Rock

Despite riding solo, Canadian road-race champion Zach Bell won last year’s Tour de White Rock road race by more than four minutes. - File photo
Despite riding solo, Canadian road-race champion Zach Bell won last year’s Tour de White Rock road race by more than four minutes.
— image credit: File photo

BC Superweek has touched down again in the  Lower Mainland, with the cycling series set for White Rock this weekend.

The first of three races on the Tour de White Rock schedule is set for Friday, when the hill climb is staged on Buena Vista Avenue – between Oxford and Martin streets. Spectators who line the sidewalks will watch cyclists race – two at a time – up the steep incline, putting their lungs and legs to the test. The women’s event will start at 6 p.m., with the men’s pro division planned for 6:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the action moves to uptown White Rock for the popular criterium, in which riders will pedal around a short one-km course that includes Johnston Road and White Rock Elementary.

Because of short circuit, the riders race in close proximity to one another, which makes the criterium one of the most exciting, fan-friendly races of Superweek, which began last Friday with two races in Delta, and continued throughout the week with the UBC Grand Prix, Gastown Grand Prix and Giro di Burnaby.

The first criterium race, for men’s category 3-4 riders, is scheduled for 4 p.m., with the women’s pro and men’s pro divisions set for 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.

The third and final event on the Tour de White Rock schedule goes Sunday morning, as men and women riders strap in for the grueling Peace Arch News road race, which sees competitors tackle some of the most grueling – but also most scenic – roadways on the Superweek menu.

The men’s race is 134-km long – 11 laps on a long course, and the final five on a shorter one – while the women’s race is eight long laps, for a total of 80 km.

Last year’s race was won in dominating fashion by Canadian road-race Zach Bell of Watson Lake, Yukon. Despite competing without a team – he was one of the few contenders to ride solo – Bell tore through the hilly course to finish more than four minutes ahead of the second-place rider, Michael Schweizer.

“I think a lot of guys are pretty intimidated by the course, and I know the course rewards guys who aren’t scared of it,” Bell said after the win. “It rewards the aggressive rider, if you’ve got the legs.”

Bell will not be in this year’s field, instead choosing to stay home and prepare for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

After the final race this year, two cyclists – one male, one female – with the best overall performance in all three events combined will be crowned the omnium champion.

This year, the Tour de White Rock criterium – as well as the UBC Grand Prix – have also been added to Cycling BC’s 2014 BC Premier Road Series, alongside other races that were staged earlier this year.

Riders accumulate points over the five races in the series, and winners in various categories will also be honoured this weekend.

“As one of North America’s oldest races, the Tour de White Rock is ecstatic to be a part of the BC Premier Series,” said Tour de White Rock race director John Stech in a release.

For more information on the Tour de White Rock, visit www.tourdewhiterock.ca

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