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Boorsma, Gill top Giro

Guelph racer emerges out of men's pack

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Kyle Boorsma had two consecutive weekends of cool and rainy weather.

The first was miserable, but it helped set up a much better race the second time around as he won a cold and wet RBC GranFondo Whistler Giro on Saturday, Sept. 9.

The 29-year-old's tire crossed the line first as five racers were bunched within two seconds of one another after the 122-kilometre race from Vancouver's Stanley Park to Whistler's Blackcomb Way West.

Boorsma, a native of Guelph, Ont., finished in a time of three hours, 10 minutes and 18 seconds (3:10:18), finishing less than a second ahead of Courtenay's Nigel Ellsay and Castlemaine, Australia's Lachlan Norris.

"It's a strong field with a lot of great riders out there to do battle against. I feel like it was an amazing day for our team (Toronto Hustle) out there. It wasn't just me. I'm going to step on the top step of the podium today, but really, it's a team effort," Boorsma said shortly after crossing the line. "A lot of those strong guys didn't have teammates in the race so if we can put our guys up the road to put pressure on them and make them work, then we can shadow them. We're in the wheels taking a bit of a rest so when it comes to the key moment, we just lay (it) down."

Almost on cue, three of Boorsma's teammates came up to him, asked "Did you f---ing win?" before embracing him and celebrating. That support, he said, helped to put him over the top in the race's final kilometre.

"What you just saw now is why we do it," Boorsma said. "We're not in this for the money. The $15,000 is certainly motivating but that kind of camaraderie is really why we do it.

"We came into the finish there and with 400 metres to go, I just thought, 'Now or never,' and the whole way into that moment, I was just thinking, 'Do this for my teammates.' They set me up, they put me in this position and now it's time to just finish it off."

Having never ridden the course before, Boorsma wasn't sure exactly how far away he was from the finish until the waning moments of the race when it became clear there wasn't a lot of pavement left to cover.

"They're beautiful roads to ride on and it's really cool to do a point-to-point race," he said. "I couldn't say enough good words about the event."

Boorsma entered the Giro coming off of a disappointing performance in the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont, where he was 21st out of 48 finishers. The weather there included single-digit temperatures in addition to rainy conditions.

"I cracked in the cold and it was super disappointing. We already had our tickets booked to come here and I could see that it was going to be cold and rainy again," he said. "It was a little bit of personal adversity to overcome that and get a win in the rain."

Runner-up Ellsay, meanwhile, said he had finagled a lead late after plenty of jockeying, but was caught in the home stretch by Boorsma.

"Out of Squamish and Alice Lake, we just started to hit it," he said. "We whittled the group down, caught the group in front. There were six of us who caught the group of six up front.

"There were 12 of us for the last quarter and I just kept attacking and reducing it down to six again. I was away until the last 500 metres into Whistler and was caught in the last corner."

On the women's side, Vancouver's Haley Gill earned herself more of an advantage, finishing 14 seconds ahead of the rest of the women's pack, which had six riders within three seconds of one another.

Fellow Vancouverite Sara Bergen and Reading, Calif.'s Emma Grant earned the other two podium positions.

Gill was thrilled to have broken away for the win after needing to reel in Bergen and Olympian Jasmin Duehring at various points between Squamish and Whistler.

"I visualized that. I wanted that. But I had to make it happen," she said. "I found myself at the front with about 10 or 12 km to go. I didn't really want to be there but no one would pull through. I got off the front and with about six km to go, I just went for it."

Being a Vancouverite, Gill explained most of the weather-related issues came before the race as she strategized to get the right clothing and gear combinations. However, once she was out on the course, everything seemed to slide into place.

"It was more so stress last night about what to bring and what to wear, but today it was fine. I'm used to riding in the wet," she said. "(I was) just being a bit more cautious, but it was OK."

Gill added that taking the Giro and $15,000 was the biggest event of her riding career to this point, but she hopes there are many more to come.

"This is my biggest win. It's a goal that I set for myself and attained. It's great. I like to think that my cycling career is just getting started," she said. "I want to see what I can do. There's nothing holding me back, hopefully."

Full results are available online at www.granfondowhistler.com.

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