Vancouver's Marvin Guzman, 22 was quick to give credit to Sebastian Salas for doing a lot of grunt work that put him on top of the podium in the 2012 edition of the RBC GranFondo Whistler.
In the end there were three riders racing down Village Gate Boulevard in Whistler after 122km of racing, a few bike lengths between them. Guzman, up front, finished in 3:24:30, almost 10 minutes slower than the fastest time in 2011. The mass start roll-out at the beginning, with the cancellation of the separate Giro for pro racers, is the main reason for the slower time, although the gusting headwind over Brohm Ridge coming out of Squamish didn't help. For Guzman, who played the race strategically, it was all about preparing for the final sprint.
"Looks like I'm buying dinner tonight for Sebastian," said a happy Guzman, who was competing in his third RBC GranFondo Whistler race. "Really, Sebastian (Salas) did all the work at the front, while I sat back and waited for the end."
Guzman was sixth in 2010, but had some issues last year to finish well off the podium.
The first break came at the top of Taylor Way, the first big climb after the Lions Gate Bridge. Guzman stayed with it, but said it didn't take. "We went out fast, but we basically stopped riding together (in the break group) — nobody wanted to take the lead, and the pack caught up."
There would be other breaks, with one decisive break just outside of Whistler that included just three riders. "Once Tim Abercrombie made the jump, I stayed on his wheel so he couldn't get away. I was like, 'all right, at least one of us got away.' We were looking over our shoulders the whole time, but we didn't see anybody riding up. Sebastian did a great job today, so I had the fresh legs for the finish."
Abercrombie is credited with finishing three seconds back of Guzman, while James Scale took third a second later after a sprint to the finish on Blackcomb Way where he looked like he had a chance of winning the silver. He actually posted the fastest chip time of the day, although only the clock time mattered for racers looking to be first across the line.
Squamish's Neal Kindree, not known as a roadie, was the top Sea to Sky racer in fifth place, finishing in 3:27:06. The fastest Whistler rider was Trevor Hopkins in 16th in 3:27:57. Both ranked slightly further back according to their chip times.
The women's race went to Leah Guloien, who won in 2010 and was riding for Team Whistler. She was 37th overall in 3:28:02, setting a new women's record on the route.