Back-to-back wins by Ken Hanson and Optum Pro Cycling at BC Superweek may be more impressive for what happened off the course than on it.
Hanson followed up Wednesday's bunch sprint victory at the Gastown Grand Prix with another late burst to win the Giro di Burnaby Thursday night.
It was a notable repeat, not just because of a deep field of top pros the California native bested both nights, but more so how hard he celebrated the $15,000 first win with the rest of the Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team.
The evening included a bachelor party for Vancouver-based teammate Sebastian Salas, and rolling into bed at 5 a.m. Less than 16 hours later, Hanson rolled across the line holding two fingers up after another perfect lead out from Alex Candelario to beat Australian pros Tommy Nankervis of Competitive Cyclist, and 2006 winner Hilton Clarke of United HealthCare in a bunch sprint.
"I think my teammates suffered a lot more than I did today, they were doing a lot of work," Hanson said after finishing 45 laps of the 1.3-kilometer circuit along Hastings Street in one hour, 19 minutes and 48.08 seconds. "I did very minimal work to cover any breakaways and was able to stay fresh for the sprint."
For a while it looked like the 58.5-kilometer race wouldn't come down to a group sprint. A solo break by former Pro Tour rider Dominik Roels of Germany 17 laps in became 11 riders strong by the midway point, and included representatives from Optum, as well as big names like Canadian strongman Svein Tuft.
Without much cohesion up front, though, the break was whittled down to two with 16 laps left, and then it was just Joseph Cooper of New Zealand's Pure Black Racing, who collected five lap preems before being reeled in with 10 to go.
"The group that got away was large but I don't think they were organized. Hanson said.
That set up a second-straight bunch sprint, and once again Candelario provided a perfect lead out for Hanson, who surged more than a bike length ahead of Nankervis, who moved up a spot on the podium from Gastown, and Clarke.
"Winning any race is amazing, the crowd tonight was great and winning two days in a row is extra special," Hanson said. "We're really happy. We came here and knew we had a chance to win and everyone is stepping up and doing their job and I'm happy I can give it back to them and finish it off an do my job."
In some ways it was harder – in others, easier – to do it on consecutive nights.
"Winning took a lot of pressure off of us," Hanson said "We got that off our backs, we got one in the bag, so we said have fun. Last night we had a lot of pressure on ourselves and we really wanted it. Today was a little more relaxed."
Not so for Clarke, who was knocked out three laps into Gastown after breaking his bike in a crash, and had to scramble for repairs Thursday morning.
"Third lap I was about 20 wheels back and a rider just fell straight in front of me and I went down," said Clarke, a top sprinter who won both Gastown and the Giro di Burnaby in 2006. "I thought it was pretty trivial but today I felt the effects of it."
The broken bike forced him out of Gastown. Getting over it almost kept Clarke, who took off his shoes and walked to the hotel Wednesday, out of Burnaby.
Given all that, finishing third wasn't bad for a guy used to being on top.
"To tell you the truth I just had to say ‘it's just one of those days'," Clarke said. "I felt the effects mentally a bit more at the start of the race to put it past me."
Van Gilder, Rowney swap podium spots
Like the men, there was also a familiar feeling to the 30-lap women's race – at least in terms of who finished on top, if not the way it played out.
After a bunch sprint in Gastown, the Giro di Burnaby came down to two riders, with veteran American pro Laura Van Gilder beating impressive Australian rookie Loren Rowney by more than a second in a final-stretch sprint to the finish line – a reversal of their finishing order in the Gastown Grand Prix the night before.
"To come back here in Burnaby and get a win after duking it out with Loren last night in Gastown, I knew she was a strong rider and I knew if we got way we could really put the power to the pedals," said Van Gilder, who continues to collect trophies at age 47, after more than 20 years cycling.
Despite that resume – she could only say with certainty the win was in the "380-something" range – Van Gilder had never been to BC Superweek.
The Pennsylvania native, who changed her travel plans at the last minute and flew in Tuesday, doesn't plan to wait that long to come back again.
"The event has been amazing," said Van Gilder, fourth in Tuesday's UBC Grand Prix on a borrowed bike after hers got stuck in transit until Wednesday. "I'm very pleased with results and already looking forward to coming back next year."
Van Gilder, riding for Mellow Mushroom along with teammate Kristen LaSasso, finished the 39-kilometer race in one hour and 25.73 seconds.
Rowney, a 23-year-old in the midst of an impressive first pro season with the same Specialized-Lululemon team as Canadian Olympic legend Clara Hughes, echoed those sentiments after finishing on the podium in all three races she took part in at BC Superweek, starting with second place at the UBC Grand Prix.
Thursday's third place finisher wasn't as eager to come back, however.
Jean Ann Berkenpas, born in Valemount, B.C, but living for the last eight years in Maple Ridge, was only passing through the road cycling crowd between stints on the mountain bike that include time with Canada's National Team.
On a two-week "mental break" from mountain biking on the advice of her coach, Berkenpas actually bridged up to the early break by Van Gilder and Rowney, and managed to stay with them until getting dropped with eight laps left.
That's when things really got tough.
After failing on a couple of hard attempts to join the lead duo, Berkenpas was caught in no-man's land, with no help, and had to worry about getting caught by a chase that was picking up speed. She hung on to finish alone – 84 seconds behind the winners, but less than 14 ahead of a hard-chasing peleton.
"My coach gave me two weeks off mountain bike for a mental break so I signed up for BC Superweek and I'm guest riding with my local bike shop," Berkenpas said of the Local Ride / Dr. Vie Superfoods team she was representing.
"It's something different, I feel like there is something to learn in every discipline and there's always things that cross over. It's a change and I am training."
Despite competing at the Canada Cup level, and working towards the World Cup on the mountain bike, Berkenpass knew she was a level behind on the break.
"They were in a class of their own," she said "I was happy to stay with them."
Once dropped, however, Berkenpas's focus shifted quickly
"Oh my gosh. I was worried about getting caught," she said. "I'm used to riding at threshold but not usually that over the red zone effort. It was survival and I was able to pull it together the last two laps and keep third."
Despite the impressive performance, Berkenpas plans to stay on the mountain bike.
She may get to both as BC Superweek continues with the 33rd annual Tour de White Rock, a three-stage race that starts Friday night with the leg-melting Hillclimb and continues through Sunday morning's historic Road Race.
Rider Name (Country) Team
Ken Hanson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Tommy Nankervis (Aus) Competitive Cyclist
Hilton Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Ryan Anderson (Can) Spider Tech
Dominik Roels (Ger) Team HED p/b Staps
Dana Williams (USA) Team Mike's Bikes
Roman van Uden (NZl) PureBlack Racing
Cody Canning (Can) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes
Alex Candelario (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Adam De Vos (Can) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes
Daniel Bichlmann (Ger) Team Baier Lanshut
Florenz Knauer (Ger) Team Baier Lanshut
James Williamson (NZl) PureBlack Racing
Michael Olheiser (USA) Competitive Cyclist
Andrew Goessing (USA) Team Mike's Bikes
Svein Tuft (Can) GreenEdge
Philip Mooney (USA) Jamis/Sutter Home Cycling Team
Tyler Trace (Can) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes
Anton Varabei (Can) Jet Fuel Coffee/La Bicicletta
David Fleischhauer (USA) Hagens Berman Cycling
Christian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
Dustin Andrews (Can) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes
Jackie Simes (USA) Jamis/Sutter Home Cycling Team
Zachary Davies (USA) Team Exergy Pro Cycling
Alexander Cataford (Can) Glotman Simpson Cycling
Eric Riggs (USA) Team Mike's Bikes
Cody O'Reilly (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Neal Kindree (Can) Specialized / EMD Serono
Mark McConnell (Can) Synergy Racing
Bailey McKnight (Can) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes
Louis Crosby (NZl) PureBlack Racing
Maurice Worsfold (Can) Speed Theory
Colter Young (Can) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes
Kris Dahl (Can) Team H&R BLOCK
Mike Laxdal (Can)
Jeffrey Sparling (Can)
Nic Hamilton (Can) Jelly belly presented by Kenda
Evan Mundy (Can) Jet Fuel Coffee/La Bicicletta
Marvin Guzman (Can) Rideokanagan.com
Michael van den Ham (Can) Rideokanagan.com
Ian Burnett (USA) Competitive Cyclist
Will Routley (Can) Spider Tech
Jacob Schwingboth (Can) Glotman Simpson Cycling
Christopher Uberti (USA) Panther pb Competitive Cyclist
Tom Radermacher (Ger) Team HED p/b Staps
Hendrik Werner (Ger) Team HED p/b Staps
Matthias Bertling (Ger) independent
Mike Sidic (Can) Team H&R BLOCK
James LaBerge (USA) Team Mike's Bikes
Joseph Cooper (NZl) PureBlack Racing
Brett Boniface (Can) FVRCC
James McCoy (NZl) PureBlack Racing
Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Scott Zwizanski (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Tom Soladay (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Stefan Fussstetter (Ger) Team Baier Lanshut
Chris Wingfield (USA) Hagens Berman Cycling
Jesse Reams (Can) Hagens Berman Cycling
Bradley Clifford (Can) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes
Dan Skinner (Can) Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes
John Piasta (USA) Team Mike's Bikes
Scott Inman (Can) Garneau Evolution
Erik Mulder (Can) Garneau Evolution
Laurent Dallaire (Can) Team H&R BLOCK
Justin Kerr (NZl) Team H&R BLOCK
Cid Martinez (Can) Russ Hay's/Accent Inns
Steven Grandy (Can) Russ Hay's/Accent Inns
Jamie Riggs (Can) Jet Fuel Coffee/La Bicicletta
Chris Worsfold (Can) Speed Theory
Federico Marchiori (Ita) Cyber Team Breganze
Mackenzie Garvin (Can) Cyclemiesters Bowcycle
Kevin Noiles (Can) cyclocrossracing.com
Julian Base (Can) Fraser Valley Cycling Club
Scott Laliberte (Can) Westwood Cycle Club
Shawn Rosenthal (USA)
Rory McAdams (USA)
Michael Wegner (Can)
Matthew Krahn (Can)
Marsh Cooper (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Sebastian Salas (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Taylor Gunman (NZl) PureBlack Racing
Andreas Fliessgarten (Ger) Team Baier Lanshut
Colin Gibson (USA) Hagens Berman Cycling
Mike Rothengatter (Can) Garneau Evolution
Rob Britton (Can) Team H&R BLOCK
Garrett McLeod (Can) Team H&R BLOCK
Andrew Pinfold (Can) Team H&R BLOCK
David Gonda (Can) Rideokanagan.com
Dylan Harris (Can) Rideokanagan.com
Clayton Meisner (Can) Rideokanagan.com
Mark Rainer (Can) Glotman Simpson Cycling
Bart Ludbrook (NZl) Glotman Simpson Cycling
Dave Johnson (Can) Speed Theory
Chris Gruber (Can) Champion System p/b Stans NoTubes
Manuel Fehlmann (Can
Rider Name (Country) Team
Laura Van Gilder (USA) Mellow Mushroom
Loren Rowney (Aus) Specialized Lululemon
Jean Ann Berkenpas (Can) Local Ride/Dr. Vie Superfoods
Joanie Caron (Can) Colavita-espnW Pro Cycling
Stephanie Roorda (Can) Local Ride/Dr. Vie Superfoods