Banff Bike Fest

June 21- 22, 2008

The inaugural edition of the Banff Bike Fest went off this past weekend with great success. Race organizers did an excellent job promoting the event and highlighting the excitement of bike racing in Alberta.

The showcase event of the weekend was the Elite Men’s Stage Race which consisted of an up and down Time Trial, a downtown twilight Criterium, and an epic hilly Road Race.

In the TT, which routed all categories up past the Two Jack Lake campground, BC’s Rob Britton (Trek Red Truck) narrowly beat out TT specialist Bruce Copeland (Juventus) in the 21 km race against the clock. Only 5 seconds separated these top two riders as they both laid down a time under 27 minutes. Rounding out the podium was Cyrus Kangraloo (Team H&R Block). Time splits were very close in the TT from 3rd to 10th (within seconds), which set up a very interesting race for General Classification as the criterium and road race stages to were still to come.

The 8:40 pm start time coupled with summer solstice daylight set a vibrant stage for the Elite Men’s Downtown Criterium. It was pedal to the medal right from the start as the 80+ men’s field blazed around the 800m course. Half way through the 45min plus 5 lap race a small lead group escaped that included Tim Heemskerk (United Cycle), Matthew Decore (Pedalhead Road Works), and Aaron Schooler (Team H&R Block). The small group maintained a slight advantage over the chasing peloton for the remainder of the race. With two laps to go, Tim Heemskerk (United Cycle) launched a strong attack in corner #2 of the 4 corner course and pinned it down the long headwind section, gapping his breakaway companions. The pace was so fast in the finale that the final 5 laps were completed in less than 5 mins! Heemskerk impressed the crowd by driving to the win in dominating fashion. GC leader Rob Britton and Team Trek Red Truck did everything they could to real back Heemskerk but they could not catch the Flyin’ Dutchman.

Saturday’s TT and Crit had set the stage for an epic road race up Tunnel Mountain. The men completed 8 laps that featured 3 climbs out of the town of Banff up Tunnel Mountain Road and one screaming fast decent back to the town site; the location of the start/finish stretch. The Road Race was pitted as an “out the back door” race as the pace of the climbs on each lap would pop riders off the back. This was just the case, as on lap 3 Jamie Sparling (Trek Red Truck) pushed the pace on the first climb of the lap to dislodge the back 1/3 of the field. From there, each lap dwindled the field until a distinctive split formed. This lead group included GC contenders Rob Britton & Jamie Sparling (Trek Red Truck), Cyrus Kangraloo (Team H&R Block), & Tim Heemskerk (United Cycle). Youngster David Larson (Juventus) also made the selection. Missing from this lead group was Bruce Copeland (Juventus) and Chris McNeil (Team H&R Block) who were both within the top 5 GC prior to the start of the stage.

In a last lap attack, Rob Britton soloed away from the remaining group to claim his second win in as many days. Tim Heemskerk sprinted to 3rd on the stage, and with the 6 second time bonus for the win at the previous night’s criterium, he moved up the GC ladder to 5th. Cyrus Kangraloo (Team H&R Block) finished with enough time to spare to maintain 2nd place on GC.

This was an impressive event for racing in Alberta and the organizers did a great job running and promoting this race. Saturday featured a super fun time trial and crit for all Alberta ability categories in addition to the Pro men & women stage race. Results from the TT and Crit races were posted online within hours of the finish. Pretty much anyone with a warm body anywhere near the race received a survey regarding the Banff Bike Fest to complete and we’re sure there will be an overwhelming positive response.

All results can be found at http://www.banfflakelouise.com/events-and-festivals/bike-fest

We at BikeAlberta definitely hope to see this great event return next year!

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