Whitehorse cyclists Preston Blackie and Jillian Chown reclaimed Tour de Whitehorse titles over the weekend, leaving a pair of records in their wake.
Chown, 45, shaved down the women’s hill climb record and Blackie, 37, the men’s time trial time record to top the women’s and men’s expert divisions at the 17th annual stage race hosted by VeloNorth Friday to Sunday.
“It really was just about mentally ignoring the pain because it was a very painful race,” said Chown of Friday’s two-kilometre hill climb up Robert Service Way. “Everyone who finished that race was in agonizing pain.”
Chown, who won the Tour title in 2012, finished the prologue hill climb in four minutes and 44 seconds. She also placed first in Sunday’s 73.5-kilometre road race from Jake’s Corner to Whitehorse in 2:07:12.
Defending expert women champ Trena Irving of Whitehorse took her in Saturday’s 20-kilometre time trial on the North Klondike Highway with a personal best time of 32:52.
Chown finished the three stages with a combined time of 2:46:16, 2:47 ahead of Irving.
“I haven’t done that much riding this year and it was a last-minute decision to actually enter into the race,” said Chown. “I think if I trained a little bit better I might have done a bit better on the time trial. But I feel really good knowing that I can still go out there and race really hard.
“The best part about it is the people. Spending the weekend with those people and racing was amazing.”
Blackie was a safe bet for first in the Tour. He has, after all, won so many of the other big events this season. The former pro mountain biker won the Tour de Skagway, the solo and overall titles in the Southern Lakes GranFondo, and the solo title at the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay.
He set an event record of 27:54 on the 20-kilometre out-and-back course in Saturday’s time trial, averaging 43-kilometres an hour.
“I had a great time trial. It’s something I’ve been working on this year a lot,” said Blackie. “It’s the first good time trial I’ve done this year, in practice and in racing. I’ve been struggling with it all season and it finally all came together for me.
“That course is 100 per cent weather dependent for a good time.… We had about as good conditions as you could possibly ask for in that race.”
Blackie won all three stages for his third Whitehorse Tour title, with previous wins in 2013 and 2014. With each stage doubling as Yukon championships for hill climb, time trial and road race, he got those too.
He finished the Tour with a combined time of 2:20:52. Marc Lapointe (2:24:27) took second, Shea Hoffman (2:26:00) third and Rob Rees (2:37:05) fourth for expert men.
Blackie put the men’s field through the paces in Sunday’s road race.
“I decided to have some fun going in and push the pace really hard right off the start line to see if anyone could keep up or would be game to keep up. We had a group of five or six guys for 60 K until we got to the (Lewes) Bridge where there’s a hill … Marc and I attacked on the hill and managed to shed everybody,” said Blackie. “And then as soon as we got to the top of the hill, my plan was to drop Marc. That’s exactly what I did and then I soloed 20 K to the finish line.”
Other general classification winners include: David Jackson (2:49:38) first in sport men ahead of Rodney D’Abramo (3:01:38); Simi Morrison (3:09:22) first in sport women; Lucas Taggart-Cox (1:06:54) first and Johna Irving-Staley (1:15:54) second in U13 boys; Ava Irving-Staley (1:15:50) first in U13 girls; Caius Taggart-Cox (2:10:50) first in U15 boys; Mollie Fraser (2:12:27) first in U15 girls; and Micah Taggart-Cox (2:26:52) first in U17 boys.
“The organizers of the Tour de Whitehorse, VeloNorth, U Kon Echelon, are great people, great organizations and I would encourage more cyclists to come out and participate in these events,” said Chown. “It’s not just about winning and setting personal bests, it’s about encouraging the youth riders. When you go to these events they really look to the older, more experienced riders. They feed off that and watch you win and they really want to progress. It’s important to support the youth that way.”
Contact Tom Patrick at