Ball wins Canada Day crit

Whitehorse cyclist Stephen Ball can win long endurance races and short strategic ones. Ball made this evident by winning VeloNorth Cycling Club’s Canada Day Criterium in downtown Whitehorse on Friday.

Whitehorse cyclist Stephen Ball can win long endurance races and short strategic ones.

Ball made this evident by winning VeloNorth Cycling Club’s Canada Day Criterium in downtown Whitehorse on Friday. He also won the solo men’s division of the 238-kilometre Kluane Chilkat International Road Relay race a couple weeks ago.

His first criterium in about 15 years, the former national team rider for his native New Zealand, tied second-place finisher Darryl Hansell with 15 points, but was first over the finish line on the final lap to snap the tie.

“Trying to get through without crashing,” said Ball of his strategy. “If you stay around the guys you know are going to do well, you’re going to end up around the same positioning.

“When you hear the bell, you have to make sure, when you’re coming around (the final) corner, you’re in the top-three. Passing on the corners is impossible.”

For almost the entire race the top-five expert men, including third-place finisher Aaron Foos, kept in a tight group. So close, in fact, Ball and Hansell rubbed tires rounding one corner.

“This year we had a good group of strong, fast guys,” said Hansell, a former Team Manitoba track cyclist who took third in last year’s crit. “We kept the speed fast. It was hairy – we had a lot of guys attacking on the back-straight.”

It was a big weekend for road cycling in Whitehorse for both Ball and Hansell.

Ball went on to win the Yukon Championships road race on Sunday, the last stage of the Tour de Whitehorse.

Whitehorse’s Hansell went on to win the Tour de Whitehorse, which did not include the criterium, finishing third behind Ball and Foos in Sunday’s road race, but taking fifth and first in the other stages.

“It’s a lot of sprinting, a lot of cornering,” said Hansell of the criterium. “Ninety per cent of these guys are better riders than me, but we lapped some of them. I know they can beat me in a time trial, no problem. This is a lot more tactics and bike handling.

“If you’re up in the first, say, four or five, you can roll around the corner. The further back they get, there’s more spacing, and they have to get out of their saddle – they’re catching up after every corner.

“Us top four guys are just gliding through, conserving energy.”

See full coverage of the Tour de Whitehorse in Wednesday’s Yukon News.

Criterium results

Expert men

1st Stephen Ball (15pts)

2nd Darryl Hansell (15pts)

3rd Aaron Foos (9pts)

4th Brad Barton (6pts)

5th Joel Macht (2pts)

6th Stefan Wacherhagen

6th Glenn Iceton

6th Scott Kerby

Expert women

1st Nadele Flynn (20pts)

Sport men

1st Spencer Skerget (17pts)

2nd Phil Hoffman (14pts)

3rd Dean Eyre (12 pts)

4th Shea Hoffman (7pts)

5th Bob Everett

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com