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July 16/05 12:33 pm - Tour de Delta: Stage 1 report and photos


Posted by Editoress on 07/16/05
 

Tour de Delta
Story by Kevin Woodley

Photos by Greg Descantes (More shots available at www.descantes.com)

Stage 1: Benco Hill Climb

Tyler Farrar wasn't settling for second place again. The 21-year-old from Bellingham, Washington kicked off BC Superweek by winning the Tour de Delta's fifth annual Brenco Hill Climb Friday night with a time of one minute, 9.24 seconds, just over sixth-tenths of a second ahead of Saskatchewan's Shawn Bunnin.

Farrar's Health Net teammate - and Canadian cycling legend - Gord Fraser finished third with a time of one minute, 10.61 seconds. "I've finished second two years in a row so I was thinking if I don't get it this year, I'm never going to get it,'' said Farrar, who won the Tour de Delta criterium and road races last year, but lost the hill climb in a too-close-to-call finish. "It was a bike throw and there was no photo at the finish so the judges picked one of us and didn't pick me.''

This time, Farrar, who was also second at last year's Tour de Gastown and the reigning US Under-23 champion for criteriums and road races, barely edged out Bunnin, who surprised everyone by tearing up the lung-busting 700-metre climb up a nine per cent grade, around a 90 degree left turn, and down the 300-metre flat sprint in one minute, 9.83 seconds.

Bunnin, an unheralded 21-year-old with a background in mountain biking that includes time on the national team, posted his surprising time as the fourth group out of the gate. Then he sat back and watched some of the best riders in North America try to beat it.

Farrar was in the last group up.

"It was like a bad dream,'' said Bunnin, a commerce student at the University of Saskatchewan. "The hardest part of going out early was all the anxiety I had after watching.''

Sarah Uhl of Quark Cycling won the women's race in one minute, 23.36 seconds, giving her all three Tour de Delta titles over the last two years. Uhl, who won both the criterium and road races but finished second in the hill climb last year, was paired with two-time Canadian Olympian Lyne Bessette of Quebec, who finished third in one minute, 27.03 seconds riding for the Sports Experts/Louis Garneau team.

"Lyne is a world class rider and one the best Canada has ever had so all you know is you have to beat her and you'll probably win the race,'' said Uhl, a former World Junior Match Sprint champion who was also second in Gastown last year and is recognized as one of the fastest sprinters in women's cycling.

Calgary's Allison Testroete of the Bow Cycle/Cyclemeisters team, finished second with a time of one minute, 26.97 seconds. Uhl, 20, and Quark Cycling teammate Helen Kelly, who finished fourth, made the long trip back to BC Superweek despite the fact the rest of their team didn't include it on their schedule for the season. Both called BC Superweek one of the best-kept secrets in cycling.

"This race is just very unique,'' said Uhl. "There's few times in the season where there as much community support as there is here. They had 200 volunteers at the volunteer dinner last night. The world championships aren't that organized. It's an indication of the love and passion of the community for the sport.''

The Tour de Delta continues Saturday with the Lehigh Criterium before wrapping up with the White Spot Road Race on Sunday. The Tour de Delta is the first stop in BC Superweek, three-event series over 10 days that also includes the Tour de Gastown on Wednesday and the Tour de White Rock, July 22-24.

 


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