Posted by Editoress on 09/1/17
Jack Burke of Aevolo was the top Canadian finisher on Stage 1 of the Tour of Alberta, fifth in the 162 kilometre race that began in Jasper and went through Jasper National Park to finish with a climb to the Marmot Basin ski area. Smoke from the wild fires in British Columbia at times made breathing tough.
Peloton with smoke haze
Evan Huffman winning
Jack Burke - Best young rider and Best Canadian
Rally Cycling went 1-2 on the stage with Evan Huffman winning and Sepp Kuss finishing second, 15 seconds back and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Drapac) third at 28 seconds. Burke was 32 seconds back and the first Under-23 rider. Burke took the Best Young Rider and Canada 150 jerseys.
A group of 14 riders (including Huffman, Kuss and Burke) broke away from the field early in the race, with the gap going over two minutes as they approached the final 14 kilometre climb. Two riders tried attacking out of the group before the climb but were scooped up with 10 kilometres to go.
Huffman attacked while the rest of the break sat on his team mate, the climber Kuss. This worked perfectly for Huffman who stayed away for the win while Kuss attacked in the final few kilometres to get a gap for second.
"I didn't plan to go so early on the climb," said Huffman. "It was an in the moment decision. I was feeling pretty good, and I knew that Sepp was one of the strongest climbers in the group if I got caught. Everyone sat up for a moment, and I took advantage of it, got a gap and time trialled to the finish. I was at the limit the last few kilometers and I am happy I was able to hold it together. We are in a good position for the rest of the race. The other teams are going to attack nonstop over the next three days, but we are first and second overall with a strong team capable of controlling the race."
Since the rest of the stages will quite possibly end in bunch sprints, this sets the sprinter Huffman up well.
"It's incredible," says Burke. "One thing Mike [Creed, team DS] always says is that we are a small team, but these are nothing but opportunities for us. This is the biggest race of the year for the team and the last race for the team to do this year and, sadly, the last race I get to do with the team [Burke will move out of U23 at the end of the season]. This team has some of my best friends, so it's pretty special that this is the last race."
"It's really cool to be able to line up with guys that you watched at the Tour [de France] and get to race against them, and when you can get a result against them it is even better. It strengthens your ambition for what's possible and what you can do. One of them [Slagter] came around me at the end when I was seeing stars, but it was a great result."
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