Posted by Editoress on 07/24/03
Steamworks Tour de Gastown
Report by Mitch Peters
Photos by Greg Descantes
BC Super Cycling Week continued last night with the return of the Steamworks Gastown Criterium. Forty-five women and one hundred and twenty men lined up on the start line in their respective races in front of a crowd of over twenty-eight thousand.
The race announcer got things rolling quickly when he announced a prime right after lap one of the women's race. Olympian and current World MTB Cup racer Alison Sydor (Trek-Volkswagen) was in attendance to challenge the women. Rona, Saturn, Team Kappa, Opus, Snow Valley and Team Alberta had full teams out to compete for the win.
Saturn's Ina Teutenberg won the first prime, testing the strength of the field. Satisfied with her legs, she attacked again after the second prime, towing Alison Sydor along with her. The two came around with a gap of five seconds on the pack after one lap. The announcer stepped in when the gap opened up to about twenty seconds and announced a prime for the women's pack.
Rona, Kappa and Snow Valley riders attempted to bridge the gap to the two riders but their attempts were futile. Teutenberg continued to pull Sydor around (still recovering from a bronze medal ride three days earlier at MTB Nationals). Sydor was content to hang onto the Saturn rider and didn't contest the sprint for primes. With about five laps to go the twosome approached the pack and the announcer gave them another unique challenge. If Sydor or Teutenberg were to catch the field, the organizer would give one of them $250 bucks if they could get ahead of the pack within one lap of catching them.
Teutenberg and Sydor managed to catch the pack on a prime lap and Teutenberg attacked. The next time the pack came around she was ten seconds off the front, claiming the $250 bonus as well as the $200 prime for the pack!
Teutenberg took the win, crossing the line with a satisfied grin on her face. Sydor took second; Rona's Andrea Hannos took the pack sprint for third.
In the men's race, the pack strung out right away and by lap two the primes began. Gord Fraser had his Health Net team out in full force with seven riders on the course. Eric Wohlberg was racing with an injured wrist, alongside his Saturn teammates. Jelly Belly, Navigators, Symmetrics, Atlas Cold/Ital Pasta, Broadmark Capital, Gears Racing and Team Rubicon were also on site to challenge the Health Net Team.
The fifty lap race saw many attacks, none of them that stuck. The first happened after Wohlberg took off after a prime. He managed to open up a small gap on the pack but was caught within a lap. A group of four took off the front about twenty laps into the fifty-lap race. Two Navigators riders, one Saturn and one Symmetrics rider escaped for a couple laps shortly after, but again, they were reeled in.
Numerous attacks went off the front continuously, with groups of three or four riders. Navigators, Jelly Belly, Team Health Net, Symmetrics and Prime Alliance riders were at the front, rotating their riders through the attacks.
The pack was relentless and they weren't going to let anything get away. Despite the intensity and size of the pack, there were only a few crashes, none very major.
In the end, Canadian rider Gord Fraser captured the win, something he's waited almost ten years for! The thirty-four year old crashed in 1993, the last time he raced here, and he was excited to win last night. "I had to come back and win Gastown before I retired, it was nice to win here!"
Prime Alliance rider Alex Candelario was second, with Jittery Joes rider, Australian Jeff Hopkins in third.
Most racers will remain in Vancouver's Lower Mainland to compete again this weekend in the Tour de White Rock, the final event of BC Super Cycling Week.
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