VeloNorth’s longest road race so far this season saw some of the closest finishes yet, with eight cyclists coming in within four seconds of each other.
“It’s a really good ride,” said expert men winner Stephen Ball. “We split into a couple groups, we all kind of worked together and all came together at the finish.
“The last 10 kilometres was really fast – from about the golf course to town – about 45 kilometres (an hour). It was pretty fast.”
Ball won the expert men’s division of the 75-kilometre race, from Jake’s Corner to Whitehorse along the Alaska Highway on Saturday, with a time of one hour, 59 minutes and one second, beating out former Team Manitoba rider Darryl Hansell by a couple bike lengths. Taking third was Elijah Buffalo, while Ian Parker, who won the previous two VeloNorth races, slipped to the back of the pack for sixth.
“It worked out perfectly for me,” said Ball, who has the most VeloNorth wins this season with three. “Last year, this race went through Miles Canyon – this suits me a lot better because I like the flat stuff. It would have suited Ian (Parker) better if it went around Miles Canyon, so it was to my advantage today.”
The race was even closer for the top expert women finishers. Whitehorse riders Kerrie Paterson and Tamara Goeppel, coming in with the second group of riders four seconds back from the top men, tied with a time of 1:59:05.
“It was a fast race; we were moving,” said Paterson. “We took it easy for a bit there because we knew we were going to be able to catch that group, and then those guys started moving it. It was a quick race and really fun.”
Things looked grim for Paterson about midway when her chain came off on the hill after the Yukon River Bridge. However, while some in the group kept on going, some waited for Paterson and together they caught the lead pack.
“Some fine, fine friends of mine waited for me, which is very nice,” said Paterson, with grease still on her hands. “A few of them took off. There was four or five people waiting for me and we took our time, slowly caught up with them and caught the group.”
Paterson and Goeppel, who won Contagious Mountain Bike Club’s Boogaloo to Boreale Race the previous evening, beat Whitehorse’s Trena Irving in third. Yukon’s Kelsey Kabanak, who won the expert women’s class of the Tour de Whitehorse last year, did not finish.
Paterson and Whitehorse’s Nadele Flynn will be defending their two-person women’s title at the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay on June 18.
Ball will also be in the race, hoping to improve on his third place finish in the solo men’s category, last year producing the top placement for Yukoners in the division. Parker will also be in the solo men, making his first attempt in the category.
“We’re going to try to take it,” said Ball. “We’re getting sick of getting beat by the Alaskans.”
1st Stephen Ball – 1:59:01
2nd Darryl Hansell – 1:59:01
3rd Elijah Buffalo – 1:59:01
4th Aaron Foos – 1:59:01
5th Bill Parry – 1:59:05
6th Ian Parker – 1:59:05
1st Kerrie Paterson – 1:59:05
1st Tamara Goeppel – 1:59:05
3rd Trena Irving – 2:18:46
Kelsey Kabanak – DNF
1st Jonathan Lucas – 2:00:35
2nd Rick Scramstad – 2:00:43
3rd Bill Curtis – 2:10:26
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org