Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for June 24, 2013

At last, cyclist Zach Bell wins national road title

Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell is finally a Canadian road champion.

By Whitehorse Star on June 24, 2013 at 1:55 pm


Photo submitted

BIG VICTORY – Yukoner Zach Bell stands on the podium after winning Saturday’s national road championship. Photo courtesy of CYCLING CANADA

Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell is finally a Canadian road champion.

The 2013 Canadian Road Championships Men Elite road race proved to be a very exciting race in St. Georges, Que. on Saturday, ending with a nail-biting sprint.

Bell, a Canadian Olympian, eked out victory via a photo finish.

“It’s pretty surreal,” said Bell, riding with Pro-continental Champion System Pro Cycling Team. “There have been a lot of people telling me that I was capable of winning. This year, I knew coming off Korea that I had good form. I knew the course was really similar to some of what we were doing over there.”

On June 14, Bell won the 184.7-km sixth stage of the Tour de Korea in Yangyang. He would finish the eight-stage tour in 36th place.

Saturday’s race in Quebec had some very talented riders at the start line, many of whom exploded out of the gate. Led by Christian Meier of Orica-GreenEDGE, a quick breakaway was formed at around the 10-km mark from the start.

Early after arriving at the circuit in St. Odillion, a group of 12 riders formed, and managed to gain a maximum gap of approximately three minutes on the peloton, which saw many chase groups attempt a bridge.

“Today, it played out exactly how I wanted it to play out,” the 30-year-old Bell said post-race.

“I wanted to make a selection early, and ride it away. I did a lot of work in that group to try to keep things moving, as did everybody else.

There was a lot of interest to keep it going. 

“We knew there would be two groups immediately. I knew a lot of the guys in my group from previous teams so we worked really well together. We knew there was a lot of power in the back too.”

As the race exited the circuit after eight laps, the group of 10 riders left exploded out, and saw attack after attack.

Finally, it was Meier who took the solo charge, making an attempt at winning his second Canadian title.

Unfortunately for Meier, the chase group of six had enough reserve to catch him with three km to go, and set up the final sprint of the small group.

Ryan Anderson of Team Optum-Kelly Benefits followed Bell’s wheel in the sprint, while U-23 rider Antoine Duchesne of Bontrager Cycling took third place, all within milliseconds of Bell’s winning 4:13:51.

“Once the selection was made early, I knew it was my race to lose,” Bell explained of his tactics. “I wanted to take the initiative, and I was here to race. When Christian broke away, I did some megapulls to bring him back. I had the one with the most interest. I wasn’t going to try to bluff my way into it. You don’t win these things by making everybody else work for it, you’ve got to do it yourself.”

Bell represented Canada at the Olympic Games in track cycling, and is highly decorated with two World Championships in the Omnium.

Since coming back from London where he finished a disappointing eighth place, Bell has transitioned from track to road, and found a new team in Champion System after the dissolution of Team SpiderTech.

“The transition from track to road has been really good,” Bell admitted. “I don’t think I realized how taxing it was to do both until this year. A lot of it has been from Champion System and the way that dealt with me. They have been very careful not to burn me out, especially at the beginning of the year when I was a bit of a fragile individual.”

In the offseason, after the Olympics, Bell suffered a massive blow, losing his first child at birth. Bell took some time off cycling, and retreated with his wife Rebecca to cope with the tragic loss.

“It’s not behind me,” he said Saturday. “I’d be lying if I’d say on some of these trips I am not in a box sometimes. The Canadian Cycling communities have been really big. We are such a tight knit community. There was a lot of people who wanted to see me back, and it’s propped me up when I needed it.

“Having some success this year definitely made it easier as well. It’s still a long way from perfect. I still don’t know what the future holds for me in cycling. The present is however very good.”

With the win, Bell stepped on top of the podium at a Canadian Road Championships for the first time. In 2011, he came third as the dissolved Team SpiderTech placed three riders on the podium in Burlington, Ont.

Winners of the Elite Men categories earn a ticket to the Pro Sprint Challenge, part of the Grand Prix cycliste de Quebec festivities.

Top race results

1. BELL, Zachary (Champion System Pro Cycling) 4:13:51

2. ANDERSON, Ryan (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) 4:13:51

3. DUCHESNE, Antoine (Bontrager) 4:13:51

4. BRITTON, Rob (Raleigh) 4:13:53 +0:02

5. ROUTLEY, Will (Accent Jobs-Wanty) 4:13:54 +0:03

6. MEIER, Christian (Orica-GreenEDGE) 4:14:04 +0:13

7. COOPER, Marsh (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) 4:14:14 +0:23

CommentsAdd a comment


Jun 25, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Well done Zach!!!
To go into a national championship as one of the favorites and still win it is a huge accomplishment.  Generally the favorites are all marked and very rarely can get away for the win.  This win shows what a huge talent Zach is.
Congratulations and well played!!

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