Tough racers complete a three day grind

Cycling to the top of Robert Service Way as fast as you can isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but that’s how VeloNorth kicked…

Cycling to the top of Robert Service Way as fast as you can isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but that’s how VeloNorth kicked off its annual Tour de Whitehorse on Friday.

“It’s two kilometres of hell,” said Tom Ullyet after finishing the Hill Climb. “You get to re-visit with your lungs.”

He was joined in a chorus of coughing and hacking from the rest of the field as they choked on their Gatorade.

Whitehorse’s Glen Iceton posted the fastest time in the first stage, climbing up to the Alaska Highway in four minutes, four seconds.

“Small guys like me like it when the road goes up,” said Iceton, who considers climbing his best event. “I was shooting for first.”

Mac Hislop came in three seconds later, and Juneau’s John Bursell finished on Hislop’s heels, one second behind. “It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, it didn’t look that steep,” said Bursell.

Under perfect skies, racers clipped in again on Saturday morning for the Time Trial, which ran along the Alaska Highway to the Carcross road and back.

Some headwind made for a slow start.

“It was a real grunt going out; everyone found that,” said Mike McCann, who posted the fastest time on the 33.5-kilometre course. After the turnaround, things improved considerably. He posted a time of 48:01.

The main event of the tour was Sunday’s road race, which again followed the highway out and back, for a 70-kilometre run.

The sport men and expert women riders then did a loop of the Miles Canyon, back to highway, while the expert men added a second loop, for a total of 90 kilometres.

The road race is when teamwork and strategy come into play, and Bursell relied on his fellow Alaskan riders to finish strong.

“We worked together for a lot of it,” said Bursell, who would eventually finish third, but first in the general classification (total combined time).

He knew he was chasing Iceton for first overall, and couldn’t let up.

“I didn’t want to give up any time, so there was no resting for a last-minute sprint.”

Iceton finished the road race in first place, and he credits his team with helping him out as well. His time trial results hurt him though, and he finished second in the general classification. “I had a good weekend,” he said.

Despite the perfect conditions, turnout was quite low this year. “It’s disappointing,” said McCann, president of VeloNorth.

“It’s been a dismal year,” said Juneau rider Dan Kelliher. He noted a very small Alaskan contingent might be due to the weather. “People haven’t been training as much, so they don’t compete … it comes and goes.”

VeloNorth is thinking of making some changes for next year’s Tour. McCann and his colleagues are considering a more urban route, going through several neighbourhoods.

“I think people like the sound of that,” said McCann. “It’s more in line with European races.

For more VeloNorth and Tour de Whitehorse information, surf to www.velonorth.ca.

Top finishers:

Hill Climb (Friday)

2 kilometres

Novice men

1st Jason Murphy, 5:59:58

2nd Dave Pruden, 6:11:59

Sport men

1st Nathan Leenders, 4:34:74

2nd John Berryman, 4:39:10

3rd Bob Bowerman, 4:57:40

Sport women

1st Joanne Weninger, 6:21:01

2nd Tanya Gadsby, 6:27:25

Expert men

1st Glen Iceton, 4:04:52

2nd Mac Hislop, 4:07:45

3rd John Burssell, 4:08:27

Expert women

1st Janice Sheufelt, 5:03:70

2nd Allison Furniss, 5:06:28

3rd Heather Enders, 5:24:03

Time Trial (Saturday)

33.5 kilometres

Novice Men

1st Jason Murphy, 1:09:53.76

2nd Dave Purden, 1:11:24.40

Sport women

1st Joanne Weninger,

1:05:50.69

2nd Tanya Gadsby, 1:07:10.96

Sport men

1st John Berryman, 52:59.92

2nd Darren Holcombe,

53:37.31

3rd Bob Bowerman, 54:22.34

Expert women

1st Janice Sheufelt, 57:02.26

2nd Allison Furniss, 58:44.73

3rd Heather Enders, 1:01:19.90

Expert men

1st Mike McCann, 48:01.72

2nd John Bursell, 48:35.99

3rd Glen Iceton, 50:24.64

Road Race (Sunday)

Novice men, 70 kilometres

1st Jason Murphy, 2:15:36.41

2nd Dave Pruden, 2:31:00.53

Sport women, 70 kilometres

1st Tanya Gadsby, 2:14:51.73

2nd Joanne Weninger,

2:14:55.39

Sport men, 80 kilometres

1st Darren Holcombe,

2:17:36.14

2nd John Berryman,

2:17:37.62

3rd Nathan Leenders,

2:19:22.53

Expert women, 80 kilometres

1st Allison Furniss, 2:25:23.70

2nd Janice Sheufelt, 2:25:23.90

3rd Heather Enders, 2:25:27.45

Expert men, 90 kilometres

1st Glen Iceton, 2:29:10.96

2nd Troy Henry, 2:29:11.17

3rd John Bursell, 2:29:12.45

General Classification Winners (lowest combined time)

Novice Men — Jason Murphy, Whitehorse

Sport Women — Joanne Weninger, Saskatoon

Sport Men — John Berryman, Whitehorse

Expert Women — Janice Sheufelt, Juneau

Expert Men — John Bursell, Juneau