It was a bit tough to sleep last night so I made sure I snagged a solid afternoon nap in preparation for tonight’s Stage 2 criterium. This evening’s race also served as the Canadian National Criterium Championships. National championship races are always special as the victor gains the right to represent their country’s colors in that specific event for the following 12 months. In this case, the national criterium champion will don a Canadian jersey or a Canadian rendition of their trade teams’ kit in every criterium event they choose to enter. National color kit renditions are often seen at the Tour de France so if you are watching this year’s tour, be sure to look out for Geirant Thomas (Team Sky – Britsh Road Race), George Hincapie (BMC – USA Road Race) and Andy Schleck (SaxoBank - Luxemburg Time Trial). The Rubicon-Orbea team honoured Mike Northey’s 2010 New Zealand national U23 criterium championship with a special white and black kiwi rendition of the regular yellow and black kit seen below.
So although the Tour de Delta has continued to grow over the past ten years, the quality of the field jumped a bit this year with the inclusion of the National Championship Criterium event. The four corner 0.9km course in Ladner, BC looks relatively harmless on paper but once on piste, riders soon discover the first three open corners make for fast racing and the wind up the back straight, the narrow front straight through the crowd and the tightening fourth corner make for extra stress. Positioning at the beginning and the end of the race through the final 2 corners is very important as crashes often occur when the peloton is nervous. The cool bonus about my ride last night is that I earned the right to start the criterium from the front line, as event organizers call up the top riders to avoid the stress and crashes associated with starting at the back of a hundred amped racers.
Okay, the race now. Off the start Mike and Jason went to the front and covered multiple attacks from the likes of Svein Tuft (Garmin-Transitions) and David Veilleux(Kelly Benefit Strategies). With each lap in the 60 lap event taking no more than a minute and change, the pace was extremely high (average speed for the entire race hit +49 km/hr). With 30 laps to go I jumped in a serious move featuring all the big names and teams.
• Will Routley (Jelly Belly – Canadian National Road Race Champion)
• Andrew Pinfold (United Health Care – Tour de Delta 2009 Winner)
• David Veilleux(Kelly Benefit Strategies – Fitchburg Classic Winner)
• Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies – ’08 Olympian)
• Justin Kerr (Team H&R Block – very experienced Kiwi racer),
• Svein Tuft (Garmin-Transitions – ’08 World Championship TT 2nd)
I was in good company to say the least. The breakaway established a maximum advantage of thirty seconds with 22 laps to go. It was very hard. The advantage started to waver with 18 to go and with the peloton only 8 seconds behind, the attacks began. I don’t remember who attacked first but by lap 49, Tuft and Veilleux were off the front and the peloton had reabsorbed the rest of us. The yellow train immediately dove to the front of the race, driving the field in pursuit of the two man move up the road. Taylor Gunman made sure I was ready for the sprint finale in 10 minutes time (whether it was for the win or the last spot on the podium) with a Hammer Gel and a coke that was much appreciated. With 3 laps to go, Quinn Keogh moved me up on the back straight so we had all six riders on the front in the closing moments. There is nothing better than being in a yellow lead out train. By this time, Tuft and Veilleux had smashed it and moved to a +30 second advantage, splitting the $2500 crowd preme (intermediate sprint) with 3 laps to go so as to maintain their advantage. With 1 lap to go, Veilleux attacked Tuft and held onto a slim margin for victory and the jersey. On the back straightaway, after Jason Allen and Roman Van Uden crushed the last two laps (using a leadout train, a team can keep the pace high so as to stay safe and deliver their sprinter to the ideal length from the finish line), Taylor Gunman throttled it far on the left hand side. UHC edged up inside on the left (in the gutte!) so with 100m before the left hand third corner, Mike countered Taylor to throw a wrench in the UHC leadout. I wasn’t able to match Mike’s speed and through corner three Mike led, with UHC leadout man, then fast man Tyler Trace (Trek-Red Truck), Andrew Pinfold (UHC) and myself. I was hoping to slingslot past out of the fourth corner but mistimed it and had to touch the brakes a little going in. After that it was a full on drag race to the line with Tyler taking the spoils. Mike and I finished 7th and 6th respectively.
Although I lost the leader’s jersey to Svein Tuft, I remained 3rd overall going into Sunday’s challenging road race. Throughout the race, the guys also picked up a bunch of preme sprints. The race organizers split the premes between the breakaway and the field in order to spice up the racing. I was disappointed with my finish but stoked with my overall performance in the breakaway so tomorrow is a new day and I’m looking forward to the steep, short climbs of Tsawassen.
Labels: Road Report