Zach Bell back on track at Commonwealth Games

The Watson Lake cyclist, who has focused on road racing the last two years, is still among the fastest in the velodrome at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, taking place in Glasgow, Scotland.

Before hopping a plane to Europe, Zach Bell hadn’t raced track since last summer’s Canadian championships.

The Watson Lake cyclist, who has focused on road racing the last two years, is still among the fastest in the velodrome at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, taking place in Glasgow, Scotland.

“It has been good,” said Bell in an email to the News. “There is a young, inexperienced Canadian team so I have had a big role to play. I have also really liked getting back into the bunch racing.”

Bell logged three top-10 finishes in three races last week in Glasgow. He helped the Canadian men’s team take fourth in the 4,000-metre team pursuit on Thursday.

He then rode to fifth in the 40-kilometre points race, to finish as the top Canadian, on Saturday.

Bell then placed 10th in the 20-kilometre scratch race on Sunday, a race in which teammate Remi Pelletier-Roy of Longueuil, Que., won a bronze.

“That was part of a team effort that led to my fellow Canadian getting a medal,” said Bell. “So it may not look good on paper but Commonwealth Games is one of the only events where you have teammates on the track. We raced a team strategy in that event, that meant towards the end he was better placed to medal and so I worked for him to ensure we got that medal.”

Bell is now preparing to get back on pavement with a pair of road races to end the Games. He will race the time trial Thursday and road race Sunday.

“The road race and time trial will both be challenging events for me,” said Bell. “I have spent most of the last two years working on my road racing but most of the last two months focused on the track. So I am really not sure how I will fare in these events. We will have a good group for the road race though so I will look to contribute a great deal towards an overall Canadian result.”

Glasgow marks Bell’s third Commonwealth Games. The two-time Olympian won a bronze medal in the scratch race at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. He won gold in the men’s omnium at the 2013 Canadian Track Championships last September in what was his first time back on the track since the 2012 London Olympics.

“Games are each unique in their own way. For me they are quite different but that is mostly my attitude and place in the sport that had changed. For the most part they have been typical. Normal big Games environment. Good crowds and venues. No overly serious issues.”

Though far from home, Bell is seeing a lot of familiar faces in Glasgow.

Fellow Watson Laker Brittanee Laverdure is set to compete in the 55-kilogram weight class in women’s wrestling on Thursday. It will be the first Commonwealth Games appearance for Laverdure, who won silver at the Pan-American Wrestling Championships in Mexico City a week ago.

Whitehorse mother and daughter Moira and Jeane Lassen are also in Glasgow. Moira is an official for weightlifting and Jeane, an Olympic weightlifter who retired last year, is doing commentary for the host broadcaster.

“I’ll be in game mode after tomorrow,” said Laverdure in an email to the News. “But everything is good, the village is good, etc. I saw Jeane Lassen, Moira Lassen, and Zach is two apartments over. I saw some weightlifting and caught a ride home with Jeane.”

Bell is also getting support from one of the smallest cycling fans in the stands. Wife Rebecca and daughter Lucy, who was born June 18, are there to cheer Zach on.

“It was great to have another fan as my daughter and wife made the trip,” said Zach. “I have wanted to race with my children in the crowd for a long time and even though she is too young to realize it, I still felt a unique sense of pride out there.

“It is also great to see the other Yukon athletes here,” he added. “Brittanee is in the building just beside me and we both compete on the 31st. And Jeane is here some place doing commentary. Such a great thing to still see Yukon athletes in the mix at a summer Games.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Whitehorse sewage lagoons photographed in 2011. With new regulations for wastewater anticipated to be introduced by the federal government within the next decade, the City of Whitehorse may soon be doing some prep work by looking at exactly what type of pollutants are making their way into the city’s wastewater. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Pondering pollutants

City could spend $70,000 looking at what contaminents are in waste water

Most of Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 graduates. The former students were welcomed back and honoured by staff at the school on Oct. 14 with a personalized grad ceremony for each graduate. (Submitted)
Individual Learning Centre grads honoured

Members of the Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 were welcomed… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Evan Lafreniere races downhill during the U Kon Echelon Halloweeny Cross-Country Race on Oct. 16. (Inara Barker/Submitted)
Costumed bike race marks end of season

The U Kon Echelon Bike Club hosted its final race of the… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Most Read