by Ben Haworth
August 10, 2009
TransRockies Stage 1 Report by Paul Done…
The first stage of the TransRockies is always a little but different from the rest, the shorter distance, nervous adrenaline and fresh legs mean that the start and riding is much more aggressive than at any point during the rest of the week. By day two, when riders wake up with sore legs and a more realistic sense of their place in the pecking order of speed, the start is a little more orderly and most teams settle themselves down for one of the hardest weeks they’ll ever spend on a bike.
Such was the case on Day 1 of the 2009 TransRockies, when riders from over 20 countries headed out on a ceremonial lap of Panorama Mountain Village before turning and heading straight up for a climb of 1300 metres to the high point of the week at roughly 2500 metres. The ascent averaged roughly 13 per cent for the 10km with sustained pitches as steep as 20 per cent.
At the start, TransRockies staff wondered if racers competing in the inaugural TR3 would change the dynamic of the event. With only three days to race, these riders could set a tempo which might not be sustainable for a whole week. The TR3 solo racers did exactly that, as Cory Wallace of Jasper set an early pace heading out of Panorama which no-one else could follow. Closest behind him were the second and third placed TR3 riders Colin Kerr (Rocky Mountain Factory Team) and Roddi Lega who were chasing with the leading TransRockies teams, Rocky Mountain Factory Team Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski and Team Amarante Bike Zone Onbike (Joao Marinho and Jose Silva)
After the epic climb, the riders traversed a high and exposed ridgeline with many short sharp climbs and steep descents. On the last of these, just before the major descent of the day, disaster struck. Wallace flatted on the sharp shale and couldn’t repair the flat. First, Colin Kerr passed him, heading into the mega-steep avalanche chute and then Roddi Lega passed him as well—had a major endo and ended up taking a minute to dust himself off before starting again.
Misery loves company, though, as Widmer and Lazarski also suffered a flat at the same spot. With the flat fixed with help from passing riders, Wallace began the chase back to the front. Over the next 25km, he passed everyone except Kerr and as he neared the finish line, he got the Rocky Mountain rider in his sights. The two riders came to the line together with Kerr taking the sprint finish in 2:45:58 to win the first stage and the first leader’s jersey. Lega rolled through the finish line in third place before the Rocky Mountain Factory Team riders arrived at K2 Ranch to win the first stage in the Open Men’s category in 2:51:32 with the Team Amarante of Portugal less than a minute behind.
While the Open Men’s category offered the tightest racing of the day, there was suffering and hard racing throughout every category. In the Open Women’s category Team VeloBella/Vanderkitten (Erika Krumpelman and Shannon Holden) took first and in Open Mixed, Team Terrascape/Trek Toronto (Mical Dyck/Jeff Neilsen) grabbed the early leaders’ jerseys.
After 2300 tough metres of climbing today riders face an even tougher physical test tomorrow on the run in from K2 Ranch to Nipika Mountain Resort. An extra 30 kn of riding and 500 metres of climbing add up to a leg crushing 72.2km/ 2835m in total.
Stage 2: K2 Ranch – Nipika Resort 72.2km/ 2835m climbing/ 2650m descending From an elevated vantage point on the bench above, riders start Stage 2 will soak up views of beautiful Lake Windermere and Lake Columbia. Those with sharp eyes might even pick out a bald eagle riding the lakeside thermals nearby in search of fish on the crystal water below. Just as all this scenery threatens to turn the ride into a postcard, the field passes through Fairmont Hot Spring and comes face to face with the sheer western face of the Rocky Mountains. This near-impenetrable fortress has very few paths over or around, so they face the biggest day of vertical served this week with three major climbs of at least 700 metres each and a total of nearly 3000 metres on the day. From the break-through on the third pass, point they descend via the technical Bear Creek trails into the Kootenay Valley where a rolling 10km push gets them to the finish line at Nipika Mountain Resort. The riders can roll into Nipika knowing that they will spend the two nights in this pristine setting at the intersection of the Kootenay and Cross Rivers. The ice-cold swim pond will be relief to weary legs after what will no doubt be a long day in the saddle.