If the Tour de France is really just a marketing tool for
French tourism, is it a coincidence that France is the most popular tourist
destination in the world?
But if bike races are the way to show off the natural beauty of
a region, the seven-stage B.C. Bike Race, which wound up in Whistler last
Friday, may one day be Tourism B.C.’s greatest asset.
Certainly the competitors who completed the 550 km race, which
started outside Victoria, took in the southern half of Vancouver Island, the
Sunshine Coast, Squamish and Whistler, were singing the virtues of B.C.
singletrack. At least those that had the energy to sing.
One testament to the popularity of the race, in only its second
year, was the list of countries represented at the start line. Riders from
Columbia, Mexico, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany,
Norway, St. Maarten, French West Indies, Morocco and Oman made the trek to
B.C., as did Americans and Canadians.
Team Kona, which was made up of B.C.’s Kris Sneddon and
American Barry Wicks, took the open men’s general classification title in a
total time of 25 hours, 58 minutes, 24 seconds. Last year’s B.C. Bike Race
winners, Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk of the Trek VW Mountain Bike Team were
runners up in 26:19:17. The Australian Flight Centre team of Tim Bennett and
Adrian Jackson wound up third in 26:40:33.
Matt Ryan, riding with teammate Jason First, was the top local
The open women’s GC was dominated by Americans Sara
Bresnick-Zocchi and Kelli Emmett, team Taint Slo, who led from start to finish,
finishing in 32:08:16. The Helly Hansen Vancouver Island team of Kristenn
Magnusson and Lisa Ludwig was second in 35:40:23, followed by Americans Katie
Lindquist and Amy Harris in 36:07:32.
The Mixed category was won by Kona Riding in Memory of Denis
Fontaine, made up of Wendy Simms and Norman Thibault. Their time was 29:10:27.
Mtt Ohran and Sue Butler were second in 31:12:16. Spike Shooter, made up of
Mark and Katie Compton, was third in 31:19:53.
There were two veterans categories, 80-plus and 100-plus.
Dave Harrison and Matt Luhn took the 80-plus category in
30:36:54, followed by Andrew Handford and Pat Doyle in 30:38:41. Mark Thompson
and David Overstreet were third in 31:16:27.
Brian and Bruce Johnson combined at team Double Shot to win the
100-plus category in 36:38:39. Andy Klumb and Kent Erikson were second in
37:53:27. The Harbour Air team of Greg McDougall and Graeme Fitch came home in
While some of the categories saw one or two teams set the pace,
the men’s open category was extremely competitive, with a variety of stage
winners. The standings were also affected by mechanical problems and time
penalties. The Rocky Mountain Bikes team of Andreas Hestler and Max Plaxton,
for instance, were assessed a one hour penalty for finishing more than two
minutes apart on stage four. On stage five Hestler snapped a bolt halfway
through the stage, which forced him to withdraw.
On stage six, in Squamish, their luck held out and they won the
stage by six minutes.
The final stage was a sampling of the best trails Whistler has
to offer. It started at Creekside with 300 metres of climbing, followed by a
descent on the Bear Creek trail, Home Run and Lower Babylon By Bike toward
Function Junction. The Riverside Trail took riders to Lower Far Side and High
Trail to Tunnel Vision. Big Timber, Lower Sproatt, River Runs Through It, Bob’s
Re-Bob and Cut Yer Bars led to the Zappa Trails and the finish at Spruce Grove