With the return of the Gastown Grand Prix to BC Super Week, Tour de White Rock organizers said they are looking forward to how the addition to the week's races will bring out a larger field.
Riders and teams from New Zealand, across North America and the rest of the world will pedal for glory in White Rock from Friday to Sunday.
"The calibre should really increase this year," said John Stech, community recreation co-ordinator for White Rock Leisure Services.
And the weather should be better from last year, too.
"Last year for the criterium ride we got rained on, but this year we are expecting sun for all three days."
With all the prize money pooled at more than $105,000 for BC Super Week, Stech said this is rich for North America and will also draw some bigger names in the world of cycling.
The event is not only bringing out a wealth of cyclists, but it also is a great community event, with more than 160 volunteers helping to put on the race, said Stech.
"Many of our volunteers have the original T-shirt from 33 years ago and are still volunteering every year," Stech said. "Others have been involved for five, 10 or 15 years and the race is becoming more well known each year."
Stech said the White Rock course is quite well-known in general and liked by cyclists because it is a technical course: there are several climbs and fast descents, and there aren't many courses like that around.
It's also scenic, with views of Semiahmoo Bay over a few parts of the course.
Over the three days of the race, Stech said they estimate there are usually around 5,000 spectators who come out to watch and cheer on the athletes.
"The hill climb on the Friday night is a really neat atmosphere because there are a lot of houses on the route who have barbecues as the cyclists ride by," Stech said of the fun atmosphere surrounding the event.
This year there will not be a block party, as Stech said organizers are focusing on the three days of the event. On Thursday evening though, there will be a banquet for the volunteers, sponsored by Choices Market.
Stech said another change for the 2012 race that will make it even better for spectators and the race participants is they have moved the finish line so that it is closer to the stage where people gather.
"That's a natural spot for the finish line, and it will make it more fun," said Stech.
The 2012 Tour de Delta wrapped up with a couple of big surprises Sunday.
First it was Morgan Cabot, riding for local club team Glotman Simpson, beating a field that included the alternate for Canada's Olympic Track team on the women's side of the White Spot Road Race. Then Bellingham amateur Steve Fisher topped that, shocking a field of top professional cyclists to win the men's road race - and with it the 2012 Tour de Delta Omnium, or overall, title.
"The team motto is believe in your dreams and my dream has been to win a Cat 1 race and I never thought I could do it," said a beaming, giddy Cabot, who has only been racing for three years. "I can't stop smiling."
Neither could Fisher, who leaves Tuesday for Belgium to race with the U.S. Under-23 team in Europe after finishing fifth at the recent U.S. U-23 Road Nationals.
"This is definitely my biggest result ever," Fisher, 22, said after topping a field that included Pro Tour riders Christian Meier and Svein Tuft of Orica-GreenEDGE. "It's an awesome experience just to be racing with those guys, and better if you can beat them on a single day. I am a little pleasantly surprised but I knew I was capable so I told my teammates that and they really rode all out for me."
Fisher bridged up to an eight-rider breakaway group with two laps left and then won a sprint to the finish line. Riding for the Seattle-based Hagens Berman domestic elite team, he finished the 140kilometre ride - it started with four laps around North Delta before crossing the flats and up into Tsawwassen for 10 laps of a longer circuit - in three hours, nine minutes and 31.1 seconds.
"I went across to the break on the climb on the second to last lap," said Fisher, who was second in Saturday night's Brenco Criterium and fifth in the opening MK Delta Lands Criterium on Friday to win the overall Tour de Delta title. "I opened it up with 200 metres to go and I was able to hold it to the line."
American Jesse Anthony finished second after overcoming a bad crash Saturday night. German Dominik Roels, a former Pro Tour rider now racing for Team HED, was third after having to find a replacement bike when his broke in a crash Friday.
Fisher, who is taking pre-physical therapy courses at Western Washington University, is in his third year with a Hagens Berman squad that, under a different name, once included a young, developing Tuft on its roster. He was aware of the Tour de Delta's history of young riders making a name for themselves - and often earning a first pro contracts - before going on to bigger things. With a list of past winners at BC Superweek that includes fellow Washington State native Tyler Farrar, now riding at the Tour de France, the win should get noticed.
"I certainly hope so," Fisher said. "I've definitely seen some of the names coming through and guys riding for GreenEdge now that maybe sort of started here."
Meanwhile in the women's road race, Cabot broke away from a 10-rider group with two laps remaining and stayed away, finishing the 88-kilometres in two hours, 21 minutes and 16.9 seconds - 73 seconds ahead of the sprint for second place.
"The attack started on the hill with the skinny climbers, and then we crested over the top and some more powerful riders started to go and, honestly, I was just following attacks and accidentally ended up off the front, saw a small gap, and then just decided this is it, you better go for it, this is your chance," she said.
"Honestly, I think no one expected it," continued Cabot. "They thought I didn't have the balls to do it. Everyone let me go and didn't bother to mark me."
Steph Roorda, an alternate of the Canadian Olympic track team riding for Local Ride Racing/Dr. Vie Superfoods, won that late sprint ahead of independent rider Kate Finegan, and with that finish claimed the Tour de Delta overall title after finishing second Friday, and winning the second stage on Saturday.
Cabot didn't make the Omnium podium - Joanie Caron of Colavita-espnW was second and Jenny Lehmann of Trek Red Truck third - but all that mattered to her was the road win. It was the first race since an accident earlier this season for Cabot.
The Tour de Delta began Friday night with the MK Delta Lands Criterium through the streets of North Delta.
In the men's race, veteran rider Svein Tuft of Langley made it look easy, pulling away from an impressive field halfway through the race and cruising across the finish line with his arms raised and the rest of the riders more than half a lap behind him. Tuft finished the 52-kilometre race with a clocking of one hour, two minutes and 50 seconds - 45 seconds ahead of the field.
The 39-km women's race had more drama as Utah's Nicky Wangsgard took the lead on the final corner and edged out Roorda by just three-tenths of a second to take top honours.
Vancouver's Jenny Lehman finished in third place.
On Saturday the action shifted to Ladner for the Brenco Criterium.
This time Roorda made it to the top of the podium as she prevailed in a three-way sprint to the finish line. Roorda outlasted Joanie Caron (Colavita-espnW Pro Cycling) and Jenny Lehmann (Trek Red Truck) down the final straightaway, finishing the flat 36km race in one hour and 24.1 seconds.
The 54km men's event brought more of the same as Ryan Anderson surged past Australian Tommy Nankervis in a sprint to the finish to capture the win. Anderson completed the 60 laps through the streets of the Ladner in one hour, 13 minutes and 27 seconds.
The cyclists will return to the south shores of the Fraser River next weekend (July 13 to 15) for the gruelling three-race Tour de White Rock.
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