Alaskans top the field in Tour de Whitehorse

It may have been the seventh annual Tour de Whitehorse, but every cyclist got a taste of something new. Before the public has cruised its fresh pavement, cyclists in the tour had the luxury of racing the second stage on the new Hamilton Boulevard extension.

It may have been the seventh annual Tour de Whitehorse, but every cyclist got a taste of something new.

Before the public has cruised its fresh pavement, cyclists in the tour had the luxury of racing the second stage on the new Hamilton Boulevard extension. With no traffic and a smooth surface, it was a cyclist’s dream, but did take some getting used to.

“I think that was the first opportunity for most of us to ride on a closed road with brand new pavement,” said Anchorage, Alaska’s Daniel Folmar. “It was funny: at first all of us gravitated towards to the right side of the road and, of course, on a new road that’s where all the gravel is.

“It took us a couple laps to get comfortable taking up the whole road.”

“It’s very rare that we get to have a closed circuit and to be able to race like that was pretty fun,” said Whitehorse’s Troy Henry. “The new pavement was so smooth.”

The sleek surface helped Henry and Heather Enders, also from Whitehorse, to win the second stage in the expert men’s and women’s divisions. However, with wins in the first and last stages, Folmar and Juneau, Alaska’s Janice Sheufelt took the overall prize, winning in the expert class.

“It seems I’ve been cursed with third-place finishes (this season),” said Folmar. “So I’m happy I won one.”

The Tour de Whitehorse is a three-day event that began Friday with a 10-kilometre hill climb, nicknamed the “Three Pillars of Doom,” along Miles Canyon to the Alaska Highway and down Robert Service Way. On Saturday, the cyclists completed 12 laps on the new Hamilton Boulevard extension between Granger and the top of Robert Service Way. The Tour ended Sunday with a 20-kilometre individual time trial on the North Klondike Highway, starting and finishing at the Hot Springs Road junction.

Not only did Folmar win the first and third stages, he set new course records in both, despite heavy headwinds on the second half of Sunday’s stage.

“It’s just a screaming tailwind going out and you turn around and there’s a headwind coming back, so you really have to save something for that return trip,” said Folmar.

“My personal best is time trials like these, where some of us can push a really high gear ratio into a headwind like this better than others.

“Troy (Henry) just smoked me yesterday in the sprint. I’m just not a natural sprinter like he is.”

The end of Saturday’s stage was not as one-sided as Folmar makes it out to be. Henry, Folmar and the stage’s third-place finisher Ian Parker all finished the 72-kilometre course in 1 hour, 52 minutes and 30 seconds, with Henry squeaking in front.

The expert women’s class also saw narrow victories with Sheufelt and Enders battling it out in every stage. Sheufelt won the hill climb by the slender gap of just 19 seconds with a time of 17:23. In the road race, Enders and Sheufelt both finished in 1:55:15, with Enders just ahead. Finally, in the windy time trial, Sheufelt secured overall victory finishing the 20 kilometres in 32:17, just nine seconds ahead of Enders.

“It was hard coming back in a headwind—I was getting blown around on the road,” said Sheufelt. “I could see Heather the whole way, which gives me a bit of an advantage because I know where I am in relation to her. She knows I’m behind her but she doesn’t know if I’m gaining or losing (ground)—unless if she turns around all the time.”

Sheufelt, who also won last year’s Tour de Whitehorse, has won every time she has raced in it. Enders, who has won the majority of VeloNorth Cycling Club’s events in the expert women’s class this season, enjoys the heightened level of competition Sheufelt supplies, she said.

“It’s great to have Janice here because she really pushes me,” said Enders. “It was awesome that we were so close and I’ve been racing against her for years. Normally we’re a little farther apart.”

In fact, this year’s event marked the end of an era in the women’s expert class. Sheufelt and Enders have been racing against each other for years, but Enders is planning to retire from competitive cycling after Henry and she compete at the Canada Summer Games next month in PEI.

“It’s a long list of reasons why I’m choosing to retire from racing—I’m not going to leave the sport,” said Enders. “Some of it’s school, some of it is for more personal things (such as) injuries. I need to take some time off to recover from them.”

Although he managed to keep his competition at bay, Folmar was deeply impressed by the cycling community he saw during his first trip to Whitehorse.

“It’s really amazing for such a small community—Whitehorse has what, maybe 10 per cent the population of Anchorage—and it seems like it’s just as active a cycling community as we have,” said Folmar. “It’s a strong bunch of riders.”

Results

Expert men

1st Daniel Folmar – 2:34:00

2nd Troy Henry – 2:35:42

3rd John Berryman – 2:42:05

4th David Gonda – 2:44:11

5th Derrick Hynes – 2:44:49

6th Ryan Burlingame – 3:02:37

Expert women

1st Janice Sheufelt – 2:44:49

2nd Heather Enders – 2:45:12

3rd Kelsey Kabanak – 2:54:32

4th Kaithlyn McDonald –

3:10:38

Sport men

1st Jud Dueling – 2:30:23

2nd Darren Holcombe –

2:32:07

3rd Nathan Leenders – 2:34:17

4th Jim Sheufelt – 2:34:31

5th Rick Scramstad – 2:35:36

6th Randy Lamb – 2:44:13

Sport women

1st Nadele Flynn – 2:46:25

2nd Trina Irving – 2:51:16

3rd Shannon Meekins – 3:04:15

Recreational women

1st Kristine Wilkinson –

2:10:04

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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