Even Ryder Hesjedal continues to be amazed at the success of his annual Tour de Victoria mass cycling event.
More than 1,000 riders traversed the three main routes around Greater Victoria and a few dozen children raced around the front driveway of the B.C. legislature at the end of the day.
“It’s the seventh year and I think it really shows the community what cycling means to Victoria, Vancouver Island and farther places away,” said a weary-looking Hesjedal toward the end of the day’s events.
“It seems like a whole lot of people out there, all levels, all styles and that’s kind of what makes it really special. It’s a mass participation ride and you get to be out there with all different people and levels.”
The day’s events continue to attract people from out of town to ride, but the majority are locals who range from national level competitors to weekend warriors who enjoy challenging themselves.
While most of the riders who greeted him afterwards at the finish area on Belleville Street thoroughly enjoyed the routes, he said, some locals discovered new routes. “One of the biggest compliments was from someone from here that rides who said, ‘hey, I never rode that road before.’”
This year’s tour featured some big names from the world tour pro circuit with American Nathan Brown of Cannondale Drapac and Rob Britton, an on-and-off Victoria resident, of Team Rally.
It was no surprise as Brown rode across the line first in the 140-kilometre Harbour Air Epic race in a time of three hours, 50 minutes, 47 seconds. Brown has been in Greater Victoria training for almost two weeks and is in fine form. The former teammate of Hesjedal’s wore the Tour de France’s famous polka dot jersey in two stages this year.
Brown came in ahead of Taylor Little of Vancouver and Andrew McCartney of Victoria, who rode across the line together in second, clocking 3:51.31.
The next four riders, including Victoria’s Sam Horn, Ian Hendry and Brendan Hodge and North Vancouver’s Ian Hendry, were bunched together at 3:51.32.
Britton, who recently won the seven-stage Tour of Utah, finished eighth (3:51.35).
Megan Rathwell of Victoria was the top women’s rider, coming in at 3:59.11 in 19th overall. Local rider Claire Morgan, riding in the age 40 to 44 category, also rode a strong race, to finish 41st overall in 4:06.36 and second fastest among women.
Brown also won the time trial portion of the Epic race in 22 minutes, 11 seconds, and was the top hill climber, completing that section in 7:47, a full 15 seconds faster than Eric Hung of North Vancouver.
The 90-km Trek Bikes Victoria Legend route saw Daniel Cure-Boulay of Vancouver finish fastest at 2:49.00 flat, almost 10 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Scott Waters of Duncan (2:58.54).
Kirk Van Ludwig and Giles Deshon of Victoria tied for third in 3:00.09, with Jon Watkin (3:00.11), Francois Bertrand (3:00.12) and L. John Alexander (3:02.33) of Victoria, and women’s winner Kristin Campbell of North Vancouver rounding out the top eight. Lisa Magee of Victoria, competing in the age 50 to 54 division, was the second-fastest female, clocking 3:17.33 for 18th overall.
Victoria’s Harley Preston shared the 45-km Christie-Phoenix Challenge crown with Sidney’s John Botelho in 1:24.30, while Victoria’s Paul Walker (1:25.47) and Nick Voss (1:27.41) were third and fourth, respectively. Hillerie Denning was the fastest woman across the line, placing eighth overall in 1:29.11 and capturing the age 55 to 59 division.
For full results, visit racedaytiming.ca/results.html and click on the 2017 Tour de Victoria race links.