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Canadians shine on final weekend of 2019 BC Superweek

A mix of BC Superweek veterans, first time attendees and top Canadian riders imposed themselves on the final weekend of the 10-day series

BC Superweek concluded over the weekend and the top step of the podium at the Tour of White Rock and PoCo Grand Prix saw a variety of winners including repeat victors, first time BC Superweek racers and Canadians. Friday saw the races line-up in Port Coquitlam for the PoCo Grand Prix followed by the two day Tour of White Rock with the Choice Markets Criterium on Saturday and the Westminister Road Race on Sunday to close out 10 days of racing.

Choices Market Criterium. Photo: Scott Robarts

PoCo Grand Prix – Friday, July 12

The men’s podium at the PoCo Grand Prix was exactly the same as at the Giro di Burnaby the day before. The same riders held onto their fitness and crossed the line in a sprint in the same order as the day before. Campbell Stewart (Team New Zealand) took the win followed by Marcel Franz (Heizomat Rad-Net) with Samuel Bassetti (Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling) in thrid. BC Superweeks only twilight criterium delivered a good battle between three of the stand out riders this year.

“I saw all the KHS guys go and I just knew I had to jump, obviously I took a couple of others with me,” said the 21-year-old Stewart. “Once we got there, we all started working together, it all kind of came together – three of them, two of the Germans – I just had to play my time, I was probably sitting in on a few laps there because they’re a bit stronger. I wanted to get that sprint to the end.”

Tibco-SVB has been dominant all week with victories courtasy of Kendall Ryan and Alison Jackson already in the bag. On Friday it was Nina Kessler’s turn who was supposed to be Ryan’s leadout rider but she was given the green light by her teammate to do her sprint right to the line. The 31-year-old from the Netherlands crossed the line a wheel throw ahead of Ryan with Holly Breck (InstaFund La Prima) in third.

“It’s so cool to race with a team here, we trust each other, and we work together so well. We know that Kendall is really fast so we just led her out and she saw that I could hold it, so she just stayed there and it’s really awesome to have a finish like this,” said Kessler.

The atmosphere at the BC Superweek is quite unique and first time riders are always very complimentary of the fans and series.

“It’s so cool to ride around the streets with so many people cheering the whole race. That’s what’s really different than in the Netherlands – we have some crits, but not like this with people all around the course. We really want to thank everyone for cheering all the time, it’s very cool,” Kessler said.

Tour de White Rock – Choices Markets Criterium – July 13

Florenz Knauer has a happy history with BC Superweek and the Tour of White Rock more specifically. On Saturday, he sprinted to another win at the Choices Markets Criterium ahead of Ulises Castillo Soto (Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling) and Cole Davis (Hagens Berman Axeon). It was the third time Knauer won the race since 2014.

The race was without suspense, however. Knauer attacked thinking there was only one lap to go before soloing in for the win. “Because Samuel Bassetti was on the hill on the back of the course, I was on his wheel. He brought me up perfectly and I jumped on the last corner and then figured out that I actually had to go one more lap. I just put everything that I had left in the tank and somehow managed to win it again.”

In the women’s race, it was Marie-Soleil Blais (Astana) who imposed herself with a bike throw to win ahead of Vancouver’s Haley Gill with Georgia Danford in third.

Marie-Soleil Blais wins the Choices Market Criterium. Photo: Scott Robarts

“It was so hard, the fact that I was alone with no teammates and there were a few teams with a lot of riders. I knew the second that I sat, they would go away so I had to just jump on everything and never let anything go, even if that meant not winning – It was the only way to get a top result for the omnium,” said Blais, who wfinished third at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix a year ago. “I felt like everybody was getting tired, so I kept the pace high and there was an opportunity to go for the crowd prime – I went and then there was a gap. I thought it was now or never, so I went full gas on the last lap.”

Blais spent the spring and early summer racing in Europe but has since returned to Canada to race the GP Gatineau and nationals before heading out west for BC Superweek. Blais knew the cards were stacked against her riding against a dominant Tibco-SVB team.

Blais on the top step at the Choices Market Crit. Photo: Scott Robarts

“I knew that if Tibco was not in a move I could sort of take some rest because it was their responsibility, but as soon as TIBCO was there, I had to be there. If InstaFund or Tibco was up the road, I had to be there,” Blais said about her tactics. “As soon as we would get caught, there was a counter so I anticipated the counterattack, kept the pace high, never got stuck behind a slower rider and follow move to move to move until everybody was tired and then just go for it.”

Tour de White Rock – Westminster Savings Road Race – July 14

On Sunday, Kelowna, B.C.’s Jordan Cheyne (Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling) took a big win at the Westminister Road Race to take the overall win at the Tour de White Rock. “I went up the climb with four to go and I didn’t really attack hard, but I saw a gap open up and I just committed to it. This circuit is so hard that it’s almost easier to go on your own sometimes.”

Jordan Cheyne takes the win at the Tour de White Rock Road Race. Photo: Scott Robarts

German rider, Christopher Hatz placed second with Edward Walsh (X-Speed United) of Halifax in third. “We had a few guys like Evan Burtnik, he’s been riding great all week, and then myself and Ryan – any of us could do well on this course, so it just came down to who had the best legs on the day,” Walsh explained. “It was kind of nice to redeem myself, it’s been a hard week for me. I’m happy with third and I think the team should be happy too. Rock is always the highlight for me at BC Superweek, I’ll be back!”

In the women’s race, it was Kessler who continued Tibco-SVB’s strong week. She edged out Blais with Victoria’s Megan Rathwell (Broad Street Cycling) in third. “We had four strong riders here – like Emily’s [Marcolini] doing really well uphill and Sharlotte [Lucas] did an amazing job the whole week so we wanted to have a break and whoever was in there could go for it.”