Cool rain reigns, while course is shortened and wildlife conflict averted

Banff National Park Bike Fest – Day 2 Results

June 18, 2011 (Banff, AB) – Stage 1, Day 2, at the Banff National Park Bike Fest slated the 81km Lake Louise Road Race along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway, home to one of Alberta's premiere bike races. Cool temperatures and a light rain prevailed, making for a somewhat cautious approach to race tactics. Adding to the caution were recent sightings of wolves and grizzlies along the popular route.

A testament to the commitment Banff officials have towards minimizing potential conflict between wildlife and cyclists, an especially challenging and fun section of the race course was eliminated, shortening its distance to 64 kilometres. As clouds lowered and riders donned rain gear, the normally beautiful views from Mount Temple to Castle Mountain no longer provided a distraction, affording greater focus on the roadway.

The men started crisply at 9:30am with a neutral start just outside the hamlet of Lake Louise. The fast-paced and close-knit peloton flowed south along the Bow River, unyielding to breakaways until five riders slipped loose just before the turnaround near Johnston Canyon Campground. The break included Dan Skinner (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Home) as his team worked hard to protect their GC leader Bailey McKnight. The pack was able to pull them back with about 10km to go; several more attempts were made, but none were successful.

Two kilometres from the finish, Will Routley (SpiderTech p/b C10) laid down a massive attack, but the reigning national road champ was caught by the charging and motivated pack just before the end. Craig Logan (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Home) led out his teammate McKnight to perfection, while the team was able to secure their second win and add a 10-second bonus to their GC lead.

"We had a well-executed plan of attack," offered McKnight. "This was my kind of finish, an up-hill climb to the line. I am lucky to have such a strong team this year." Bailey was trailed by Colter Young ( p/b Norco) in second and Paul Tichelaar (Edmonton Road and Track Club) in third.

Starting 15 minutes after the men, the Open Women were also ready for the challenge. Similar to the men, they raced together tightly for the downward leg of the course, but were even less yielding to attacks. Team Alberta and Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes provided a few sparks, but no one was able to ultimately escape.  Team Alberta was vigilant in protecting their GC leader, Pepper Harlton, while handling the lion's share of the work at the front.

After the turnaround it was an upstream battle to the finish. Harlton demonstrated her cyclo-cross pedigree and went out front pulling the pack up the hills, while veteran roadie Laura Brown (Local Ride, Dr. Vie Superfoods+) conserved from just behind and on the wheel of her teammate, Steph Roorda. A perfectly timed Roorda struck with 200 metres to go, launching Brown ’s final assault across the finish to take control of the leader’s jersey.

"It was freezing cold the whole race and it seemed like a slow motion sprint.  But I got a gap and won," commented an elated Brown after the race.  An impressive second-place finish went to Shoshauna Laxson (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes) while third was claimed by Katy Curtis of the hard-working Team Alberta.

Saturday serves up an exciting double-stager for riders. In the morning, the Stage 2 Individual Time Trial around a 21 km Lake Minnewanka Loop could play a big role in deciding the overall race winners. Later in the afternoon the Stage 3 Criterium in downtown Banff will delight visitors and residents alike who traditionally turnout in throngs to cheer the riders at this amazing event.


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