Yukon cyclist Zach Bell finished the track-cycling season with a neckful of medals at the Tim Hortons Track Nationals in Dieppe, New Brunswick this weekend.
Bell, wearing the Alberta jersey, won two golds and two silvers on the wooden oval.
He took gold in the 4,000-metre team pursuit with the Symmetrics team, and also finished first in the points race, a 160-lap event in which points are awarded every 10 laps based on position.
“You have to be fast, but you have to hang in there,” said Bell, who won the close race in the final sprint. “In the endurance cycling community, it’s known as the hard man’s race.”
Bell captured silver in the 4,000-metre individual pursuit, and also in the 60-lap scratch race.
“The scratch is pretty intense, with 18-24 guys on the track,” he said.
“It’s my best nationals to date … each year it’s gotten progressively better,” said Bell from New Brunswick. This was his fourth appearance. He was a little disappointed that he didn’t win the individual pursuit, as his main focus was on that race.
“At track nationals it’s difficult to go in and take every race.”
Bell finished on the podium in four of his five races, but Sunday’s Madison race, (a two person relay-style event) ended in a disaster for Bell and partner Martin Gilbert of Quebec.
Bell and Gilbert were in second place in the final minutes, when they collided with each other and couldn’t continue.
“Luckily it was the last race of the event, and no one else was involved in the crash,” said Bell.
Bell will take the next few weeks to recover from a mild concussion and scrapes and bruises, before the World Cup track season starts up again.
He’s hoping to join the national team in Sydney, Australia, in November for the first World Cup event.
He’s also looking to sign a contract with a professional racing team for next season, ideally with a team that competes in both road and track events.
Professional track cycling is a new development in the cycling world, and Bell thinks his success at the national and international level will help him find a spot with a pro team.
“It’s good recognition for the team,” he said.
Last year, Bell raced with the Rite-Aid Pro Cycling, and competed for Canada at the Pan-American Track Championships.