Winnipeg’s Leah Kirchmann Claims Stage Three of Tour de Delta
There must be something in the water in Delta because it definitely agrees with Seattle’s Steve Fisher (Hagens Berman Cycling) as he took top spot at the White Spot | Delta Road Race Sunday afternoon in Tsawwassen for the second straight year.
With international sanctioning and awarding of official UCI points, the road race drew a
deeper, stronger field of top professional cyclists from all over the world. The designation means that the Tour de Delta is the first road race in Western Canada on the UCI’s America Tour Calendar.
The race itself saw a nine rider break early, which expanded to fifteen in the latter portion of the 151 kilometre trek as the pack closed the gap on the first group.
“It was a long day, the I played it pretty conservative at first, Team Canada had three guys in the move and they were pretty motivated to keep the gap up,” Fisher explained. “So that played well into our hands and my teammate Chris Stastny came up with two laps to go to help keep that gap up and then led me out for the sprint.”
As for the success in Delta, the 23-year-old Fisher is quick to deflect the accolades to his teammates at Hagens Berman Cycling, which is based out of Seattle.
“It was a big win for me last year, it was good racing by the team, it’s great racing all week, so I’m happy to back at BC Superweek and glad I could repeat today.”
Second place in the newly sanctioned UCI road race went to 22-year-old German Yannick Mayer of Team Baier Landshut. Mayer felt that all of the riders in the first break were confident about sprinting to first once the finish line was in sight, but the heat played a role as competitors began to tire.
“It was quite hot, dealing with the sun, we had the breaks at high speeds and we all had a good plan within that final group and I’m happy that I made it into second place.”
Mayer and his fellow Team Baier Landshut riders have some added motivation to be on the podium for UBC Grand Prix on Tuesday, the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix on Wednesday, the Giro di Burnaby on Thursday and the Tour de White Rock next weekend as they’d like to start an upcoming vacation on a winning note. “We’ll do the rest of BC Superweek and then head back to Germany after a two week holiday in Las Vegas,” said a smiling Mayer.
North Vancouver’s Ryan Anderson wrapped up an outstanding performance at the Tour de Delta with his third straight podium finish as part of Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies. The North Vancouver native followed up back-to-back second place finishes in Friday’s MK Delta Lands Criterium and Saturday’s Brenco Criterium with a third place finish in Sunday’s White Spot | Delta Road Race.
“It was a nice day and the lead road racer was excellent,” said the 25-year-old product of the Victoria Academy of Cycling. “We raced hard all the way to the end and came up just a little bit short, but we’re still happy to be on the podium.”
Although he was visibly disappointed after such a close sprint to the finish line, Anderson turned the third placing into a positive, using the experience to move forward and improve, much the same way he did from Friday to Saturday.
“We look forward to getting better as BC Superweek rolls on,” said Anderson, whose Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team will move on to Bend, Oregon for the Cascade Cycling Classic. “Delta’s always been special to me, I’ve always done well here and used it to build towards better finishes.”
However, Anderson is also looking forward to racing again in his home country. “The big target for me is the Tour de Alberta a little later in September.”
If the first year of being a UCI sanctioned race is any indication, competitive cycling fans in the Lower Mainland are in for much more exciting action in future years of the White Spot | Delta Road Race as riders spread the word about the success of the event and BC Superweek,
The changes to the course for the White Spot | Delta Road Race this year meant the women were riding seven kilometres less than in past years, but it certainly didn’t diminish the excitement and intrigue.
With most of the riders grouped together for most of the race, it took a sprint in the last 50 metres for Leah Kirchmann of Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies to claim first place in the third stage of the Tour de Delta. In a close second was Elle Anderson of Team Vanderkitten, with Team NOW and Novartis for MS rider Robin Farina in third.
Kirchmann, who is reigning Canadian Criterium National Champion, enjoyed the challenge the new road race presented.
“I think this road race is almost like a crit course, there are a lot of corners,” the Winnipeg native expressed immediately after crossing the finish line. “The last few laps were pretty hard, there were a couple of individual riders who got off the front and my team did a great job sitting on the front and bringing them back at the perfect moment. Then they were able to give me a lead out for the final corners and make my job much easier.”
For Anderson, the second place finish was her third straight day on the podium at the Tour de Delta after third place finishes in Friday’s MK Delta Lands Criterium and Saturday’s Brenco Criterium, and it ensured that she’d claim first place in the Women’s Omnium.
“I’m extremely happy and I just want to send a big thank you to my team because they were so awesome over the last three days,” a beaming Anderson said. “Especially today they did amazing work and I thank them all so much.”
Knowing that just being on the podium would sew up the overall Tour de Delta title, Anderson’s focus was specific over the last few kilometres of the race.
“I was paying really close attention to where everyone was, making sure where the other top overall riders were and looking for my teammates and just trying to be aware of that second-to-fifth field because that was the best place to be for those twisty turns right before the finish,” Anderson reflected. “I made it through there okay with good positioning and that really helped.”
After a first place finish at the Brenco Criterium Saturday night, Farina felt the course was challenging, but with the help of her NOW and Novartis for MS teammates, she was pleased to be in the top three.
“It’s a pretty technical course, really hard to get away, it seemed like it was so fast in a lot of sections but as a whole, getting a grip off was tough,” Farina said. “We had a hard time getting a break off, but I think we did a good job of keeping everybody in check, the team rode really well, and it was a good day.”
The excitement of the men’s road race being UCI sanctioned for the first time ever, has lead the women to hope the same can be said for their road race at the Tour de Delta in 2014.
Farina exclaimed, “We really want to see the women have a UCI race here next year and maybe have a Tour de Alberta, have a women’s stage race in conjunction with that race as well, so hopefully it can become a reality.”
One rider who made a name for herself at the White Spot | Delta Road Race is 30-year-old Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery team member Catherine Dessureault of Ville-Marie, Quebec, who had a 40 second lead with one lap to go before falling back into the pack.
“I started racing only two years ago and it’s my first year here,” an emotional Dessureault stated. “I was hoping some of the girls would work with me at the end, but I understand why they didn’t because I know they are working together as a team. My teammate Audrey Bernard finished ninth, so that’s good for our team. We’re not a professional team, so we’re trying to improve and get to the next level.”
With a performance like the one she had on Sunday morning, Dessureault’s name is one we can expect to hear even more often in the future.
At the end of the weekend, the Tour de Delta was a huge success for the Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team with Denise Ramsden second overall in the Women’s Omnium Results and Kirchman third.
BC Superweek continues with a special Media Launch Monday at 10 a.m. in the Atrium (8th floor) at the BCIT Downtown Campus and all media is invited to attend. The Launch features BC Hall of Fame member and three-time Canadian Olympian Brian Walton as the keynote speaker, plus officials from the Canadian Cycling Association, Cycling BC and professional riders from each of the major teams participating in BC Superweek.
The racing continues with the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (July 10), Giro di Burnaby (July 11) and the Tour de White Rock (races on July 12, 13, 14).