Zach Bell got some national kudos from his peers in the cycling world recently, when he was named Best Track Cyclist for 2006 in Pedal magazine’s Canadian Cycling Awards.
“Obviously I’m exited about it — it’s kind of like Canadian Idol,” Bell said with a laugh from Burnaby yesterday. “It just comes down to what people think … it’s pretty cool. I feel pretty honoured by it.”
Bell had his best season on the track, but he’s humble about the title, and pointed to some of his teammate’s accomplishments as well.
“It’s the second time I’ve been named to these awards — both times, I was like “Oh geez, I don’t deserve this,” he said.
“There’s a guy on the national team that won two medals at the Commonwealth Games. One of my teammates won a silver medal at worlds. I had a good season … but, I don’t know.”
“Basically it’s a readers choice award, that’s important to recognize,” said Benjamin Sadavoy, publisher/editor of Pedal.
Readers voted at pedalmag.com, and Bell won the most votes for the Track category.
“Certainly the cream of the crop were there,” said Sadavoy. “Zach certainly is in good company, and he should be there, he is a top player in track, he’s proven himself.”
Sadavoy noted some of Bell’s biggest accomplishments in 2006.
“He did break a 12-year-old Canadian individual-pursuit record at the Commonwealth Games, and he placed first in the points race at the Canadian nationals and he was part of the first-place team pursuit.”
A lot of votes probably came from people following his career from home in the Yukon, and in Alberta where he went to university, said Bell.
He also made an impact in Ontario where he raced with the Jet Fuel racing team.
“Now that I’m in BC, I have people here voting for me,” he added. “I think that may have a lot to do with it — I’ve been in so many racing circles.”
Two others “really big performances this year: Gina Grain — she’s based in BC — and Travis Smith races in Los Angeles. I think he kind of falls off the radar.”
Smith won a silver and a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and Grain won a silver at the Track World Championships in France.
As well as the national team, Bell is currently racing with the Symmetrics professional team based in Burnaby. Symmetrics recruited him to bolster its first season in track competition.
For Bell, who has jumped around the country for the past few years, the Lower Mainland is where it’s at.
“The team really needs to be together to train, and they have the indoor track here, and coaches in the area — all the resources just came together in Burnaby this fall.
“If you’re trying to do what I’m trying to do, it’s the best place to be.”
Bell’s season continues later this month in Los Angeles for the third World Cup event of the season.
The 2007 Track World Championships wrap up the track season in March, in Majorca, Spain. After that he’ll focus on road racing with the Symmetrics team, Bell said.