BC Bike Race is taking on it’s second year in the Okanagan by adding a second Queen stage. Not many races would make such a bold claim but, with 1,85om of elevation gain, from Kalamalka Lake to King Eddie Plateau, the title fits.
The royal stage led to another battle royale among the leaders. Peter Disera went on the attack and, other than one stray cow, none of the top men could hold his wheel. On the women’s side, Sandra Walter continues to reign supreme while the fight for the final podium spot heats up behind her.
After a pleasant roll through Kal Park, the day’s racing got down to business. A full 12.5km climb up to the Plateau spread out the field, with a jaunt along the highly technical “Royal Ascent” finishing off most of the day’s climbing. Rolling, but demanding terrain led to the top of a raucous, 9km descent back down to the valley below. The steep gnar of Big Ed, one of the week’s most challenging trails, led into high-speed corners and then a rolling finish to the timing mat. 51 km on the bike and 45 km on the clock made Stage 4 a truly royal day.
Pro Men: Disera takes on Big Ed
Five days into the 16th BC Bike Race, the top three men are separated by just over three minutes. But, with the leader’s jersey changing hands between Peter Disera and Luke Vrouwenvelder several times already, and Carter Nieuwesteeg, Rob Britton and Geoff Kabush lurking close behind in the standings, the standings are far from settled.
Peter Disera attacked off the front, followed by Carter Nieuwesteeg and Rob Britton. Disera stayed clear of the pack to take the win, but the standings shuffled significantly before the race hit the timing mat down below. Luke Vrouwenvelder chased past Britton to take third on the stage.
“I kept it pretty close with Carter and I caught Rob. But Peter had some solid pace for us today,” said Vrouwenvelder, adding that the week’s racing has been full-out, every day. “I think I’m a little favoured towards the longer days right now and was kind fo thinking today would be a bit longer. But 2.5 hours as a Queen Stage? It’s fast, man.”
It wasn’t quite enough to hold onto his leader’s jersey, but the U.S. rider knows the race isn’t over until it’s over.
“I’ve been riding at a solid pace, riding within myself for most of the race,” said Vrouwenvelder. “I feel like I’ve been riding the same speed most days and Pete’s been doing these peaks and troughs. Maybe today was a peak and tomorrow is a trough. But who knows, he’s riding super strong. Hats off to him for sure.”
It’s the first BC Bike Race appearance for Vrouwenvelder and his Giant Factory teammate, Stephan Davoust. When the opportunity to race presented itself, both riders were quick to sign up. How is the American strategizing his debut BC Bike Race podium run? Well, he’s looking to a local veteran, Geoff Kabush, who currently sits in fifth in a very dynamic men’s field.
“It’s hard to count Geoff [Kabush] out. He’s such a smart racer and really tactical. He knows his stuff really well” the Giant Factory rider added. “At first, I thought I’d just mark Geoff, but Pete seems to be on really good form, too. So it’s a mix of trying to be like Geoff with how I race and matching Pete’s efforts when he goes.”
Walter reigns, Armstrong surges
The women’s field looks more settled at the top, but is also an exciting race. Sandra Walter has extended her lead over Catharine Pendrel every stage. But the battle for third is still wide open. Lauren Cantwell has an advantage over gravel racer-turned-mountain biker Amity Rockwell. But it’s Kaysee Armstrong, third for a second day in a row, that is steadily moving up the standings.
While the two Queen Stages are through, there’s plenty of racing left at the 16th BC Bike Race. Stage 5 carries riders to the week’s highest elevations.
Starting above 1,600m and climbing well over 2000, rider’s have a shorter distance, just 28 km, but all at elevation. A sizable opening climb carries racer’s up to rarified air, before a backcountry loop carries them to the week’s high point, and two ripping descents back to the village.