For Whitehorse cyclist Stephen Ball, Saturday’s win didn’t mark just two races in a row, it was also two years in a row.
Racing in VeloNorth’s North Klondike Road Race, Ball, who won the first road race of the season on May 4, was again the top expert men rider. Ball also won the same race last year.
“It’s a good course and normally sprinting is my strong point,” said Ball of the 50-kilometre race that started at Takhini Hot Springs Road on the highway. “So if I can get over the climb with the guys, the guys who climb well, normally I’m pretty good at sprinting.
“I’m better at finishing on the flats.”
Ball’s strategy of staying with the lead pack and out-sprinting them on the final stretch paid off. By the turnaround the lead pack was whittled down to just four, who went on to sprint at the finish. All coming in within a second of each other, Ball outpaced Ian Parker, Dave Gonda and James Minifie, all of who finished second, third and fourth respectfully.
“There was a headwind on the way back, so it’s hard for anyone to gap anyone else,” said Ball. “It’s super hard to ride by yourself into a headwind.”
The expert women’s class also saw a repeat winner. Whitehorse’s Nadele Flynn, who was her class’s winner on May 4, was again on top, coming in two minutes ahead of second-place finisher Trena Irving.
“In the first half I tried to hold on to the lead pack as long as I could,” said Flynn. “On the way back everyone was splintered off, so you had all the headwinds, so if you found someone to bike with, that made it much more pleasant.”
The consecutive wins are good news for the expert winners as both train for next month’s Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay.
Ball will be attempting to solo in the 238-kilometre race from Haines Junction to Haines, Alaska, having finished third overall in the solo men’s category last year.
“It depends on the day a lot with that one,” said Ball. “There are a bunch of Whitehorse guys doing it this year, so we want to take down the Alaskans this year.
“There’s about four of us from Whitehorse doing it – all around the same ability. So that’s the plan, to try and get the solo victory.”
Flynn and her riding partner Kerrie Paterson, who won the expert women’s class of the North Klondike Road Race last year, will be defending their two-person women’s relay team title at the Kluane Chilkat.
1st Stephen Ball (1:26:45)
2nd Ian Parker (1:26:45)
3rd Dave Gonda (1:26:45)
4th James Minifie (1:26:45)
5th Darryl Hansell (1:28:10)
6th Stefan Wackerhagen (1:28:11)
7th Elijah Buffalo (1:28:12)
8th Jerome McIntyre (1:28:32)
9th Brian Macdonald (1:40:04)
1st Nadele Flynn (1:40:04)
2nd Trena Irving (1:42:16)
1st Rob Rees (1:35:05)
2nd Lawrence Ignace (1:35:12)
3rd Jonathan Lucas (1:35:21)
1st Caroline Schutrumph (1:55:15)
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org