Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for September 17, 2013

Bell pleased with personal performance in Quebec races

Yukon-born Olympic cyclist Zach Bell gave his all on the world stage in Quebec over the weekend.

By Marcel Vander Wier on September 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm

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Photo submitted

LATE-SEASON SURGE – Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell pushes to the finish during the Challenge Sprint Pro held Thursday, prior to the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec. Photo courtesy GPCQM, JAMES STARTT

Yukon-born Olympic cyclist Zach Bell gave his all on the world stage in Quebec over the weekend.

The 30-year-old impressed in the 205.7-km WorldTour race in downtown Montreal Sunday, sticking with the main group of the 164-cyclist peloton for the majority of the race before bowing to the public and stepping off the saddle.

The races in Quebec City and Montreal may mark the end of Bell’s cycling season.

“I’m not certain at this point,” Bell told the Star today. “I may still have some late-season stuff but these may also be the last ones I do this year.”

More than 100,000 people gathered along the course in Montreal to witness some of cycling’s top stars.

The peloton travelled the same 12.1-km urban circuit 17 times, including the very difficult Côte Camillien-Houle climb averaging eight per cent over 1.8 kms.

The Canadian team left everything on the road in the two WorldTour races, the team’s director sportif Kevin Field said.

“We came out of Quebec (Friday) with a little bit of disappointment,” Field said. “We were definitely hoping to be in the hunt there. We talked together as a team and we wanted to be a bit more on task.

“We didn’t want to miss the break today, and it was awesome to see Zach in the break for Team Canada and Garneau-Quebecor. The way the final ended today, it made for a really super-hard Grand Prix of Montreal, most likely one of the hardest we have ever seen.”

Robert Gesink (Belkin Pro Cycling) won the 201.6-km Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec. Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria and Ryan Anderson of Vancouver finished 39th and 40th, respectively.

On Sunday, Bell donned the special edition Canadian Champion jersey made by Louis Garneau Sports for the WorldTour races and was in the main break that took off early, giving his teammates a well-deserved break in the peloton.

“It was not too hard for the break to get established,” Bell said. “They rode hard for a lap or two. The group was pretty happy with the combination that was up there. Everybody worked well. The main group was coming back quickly, and I didn’t have anything left to go any faster.

“It was a good ride for me on that type of course,” Bell said. “I was given the job of giving us a man in the early break of the day. I rode well on a course that really does not suit many of my strengths, so it was good to do that. Doing it at a high level race in Canada as the reigning national champion made it a great experience.”

Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) would win the Montreal-based race.

Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) finished third, while Ryan Roth of Guelph was the top member of Team Canada to finish in the 79th position.

Despite dropping out, Bell was pleased with the outcome of the two WorldTour events.

“Just like all the races we are starting to have, it gives spectators an opportunity to get up close and personal with both the international stars of cycling and our own Canadian talent pool,” he said. “They see we are capable with guys in breaks and guys contesting for a finish. It’s good for the kids to understand that coming from this country, you can get to this level.”

Sunday’s race marked the final professional event for David Veilleux of Cap Rouge, Que.

Veilleux was the first Quebec-born athlete to start and complete the Tour de France.

Bell said he was thankful for Veilleux’s contribution to the sport.

“I intentionally waited for David at the finish line to shake his hand,” he said. “Sport in Canada is losing one of its best ambassadors.”

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