Vancouver's Marvin Guzman, 22, is buying dinner tonight for Sebastian Salas, who did a lot of work to put him on the podium in the 2012 edition of the RBC GranFondo Whistler.
In the end there were three riders coming down Village Gate Boulevard in Whistler after 122km of racing, a few bike lengths between them. Guzman, up front, finished in 3:24:30, which was almost 10 minutes slower than the fastest time in 2011. The roll-out at the beginning, with the cancellation of the separate Giro for pro racers, is the main reason for the slower time, as well as the gusting headwind over Brohm Ridge coming out of Squamish.
"Sebastian did all the work at the front, while I sat back and waited for the end," said Guzman, who was competing in his third RBC GranFondo Whistler race.
The first break came at the top of Taylor Way, the first big climb after the Lions Gate Bridge. "We went out fast, but we basically stopped riding together (in the break group) and the pack caught up.
The next big break was with about 10km to go. "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 with just three of us in that break, but we didn't see anybody riding up. Sebastian did a great job today, so I think 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 with the rollout only the clock time mattered.
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.
The women's race was 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.
Second and third women were also from Team Whistler, which went on to win the Mixed Team category. Jenny Lehman was second in 3:35:28, while Cathy Zeglinski was third overall in 3:40:45. All three Team Whistler girls were the fastest in their respective age categories.
Tony Routley, who started Team Whistler, said the focus of the day was on the team's female racers. "The girls on the team were slaying out there today, I'm telling you," he raved. "We had Leah up in the one pack with two of our guys, and Jenny with three guys in the second group, and another pack around Cathy. Sometimes it seemed liked we were the ones keeping up."
"The packs got split up a little over the climbs," said Lehman, "I was stuck in the middle of the second group and all I could really do is watch. It was great how everyone worked together as a team, and the guys raced their faces off to get us on the podium. I really liked riding with the guys, it was a really fast pace... It was pretty windy after Squamish, and it definitely helped to have a lot of big guys on the team to jump behind."
Live results are posted online at www.rbcgranfondo.com. Check back for more results and interviews later.