The annual Banff Bike Fest kicked off on Thursday, with five races – a prologue, two road races, an ITT, and a criterium – scheduled over four days. Set on the beautiful mountain roads of Banff National Park, this stage race passes some of the most scenic views in the Canadian Rockies. The prologue climbs past the Banff Springs Hotel, the Lake Louise Road race follows the Bow Valley Parkway from Lake Louise to Castle Mountain, and the Tunnel Mountain Race climbs directly above the town of Banff.
Bike Banff Fest Prologue
Thursday’s 1.5 km prologue was non-stop climbing, right from the heart of downtown Banff. The route followed the Bow River to Surprise Corner, where the iconic postcard view of the Banff Springs Hotel served as a potential distraction as riders pushed themselves against the clock.
In the men’s category 1/2 race, Evan Bayer (The Lead Out Project) took top spot in 2:28. Cody Canning (Russ Hay’s p/b Scotiabank) finished +0:01, while Bailey McKnight (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes), finished +0:02 to round out the podium.
On the woman’s side, Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes put an early stamp on the race when Leah Guloien took the win in 3:02 and teammate Shoshauna Routley finished one second back. Twenty16’s Maddy Boutet finished two seconds off the lead to claim third.
Lake Louise Road Race
The Banff Bike Fest shifted to Lake Louise for an 81-km road race along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway on Friday; however, the biggest threat to the race was neither the posted Grizzly bear warnings nor the Black bear sightings. It was the weather, which proved foul. Pouring rain started well before the race and didn’t relent until the podium presentations.
The ride of the day was in the woman’s race, as Kinley Gibson (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes) escaped alone just 10 kilometres into the race. She was never threatened, thanks to teammates sitting at the front of the peloton. She finished in 1:51:05, +4:53 ahead of teammates Shoshauna Routley and Leah Guloien, who sprinted to the line to sweep the podium.
In the men’s race, winner Dylan Davies (Russ Hay’s p/b Scotiabank) admitted his attack on the final climb was meant as a decoy to help put is teammate Cody Canning into position for the win; however, Davies stuck at the front and took the stage win. Jure Rupnik (Range Road Racing) and Warren Muir (Soul Sportif) completed the podium.
“A lot of guys didn’t expect it to be this cold,” said Davies, “so we tried to stay at the front just to stay warm. Lots of guys were eager to attack, but we worked hard to close everything down until the final stretch.”
The racing resumes Saturday morning, with an 8-km ITT on the Vermillion Lakes Road, followed by an evening Criterium in the town of Banff.
More race results, including the Men’s Category 3-5, are available on the Banff Bike Fest website.