By Paul Done/TransRockies Challenge
The 2006 TransRockies Challenge wrapped up at Panorama Mountain ski resort in the Purcell Mountains in British Columbia, Canada on Saturday.
Though the last stage of the race was the shortest, the nearly 1,700 metre climb to the top of Paradise Ridge would test the remaining riders one more time before they were eligible for the finisher t-shirt. With intermittent hail and rainshowers throughout the day only added to the drama atop the 2500 metre high Ridge which provides epic views into the 3000 metre peaks of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the Rockies.
While the 7th stage produced no major changes in the overall standings, a superb effort by the third-placed United Cycles team of Tim Heemskerk and Evan Sherman put the leading duo of Andreas Hestler and Seamus McGrath (Rocky Mountain Business Objects/Felt Racing) in big trouble as the stomach problems that Hestler had been fighting for a couple of days left him unable to follow on the climbs. As they switched into survival mode, their 10 minute overall lead started shrinking quickly as the stage wore on.
With gritty effort, they held on to their lead. At the finish line, they held onto barely two minutes of that original gap and it was enough to give Hestler his third straight TransRockies overall win-remarkably, accomplished with three different partners. "The best thing about winning three times is that I have ended up better friends with my partners after the race than before," said Hestler. The TransRockies is definitely the best thing I have ever done on a bike."
For a full report on stage seven, click here. For reports, results and photos from each day's racing:
- Race 1 - August 6 : Fernie, BC To Sparwood, BC
- Race 2 - August 7 : Sparwood, BC To Blairmore, AB
- Race 3 - August 8 : Blairmore, AB To Elkford, BC
- Race 4 - August 9 : Elkford, BC To Whiteswan Lake, BC
- Race 5 - August 10 : Whiteswan Lake, BC To Nipika Resort, BC
- Race 6 - August 11 : Nipika Resort, BC To Invermere, BC
- Race 7 - August 12 : Invermere, BC To Panorama Mountain