Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell has mixed emotions about finishing sixth at the 2011 UCI Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands on Saturday.
On the one hand, finishing in the top-10 in the world is a tremendous accomplishment in any sport. On the other, having won the UCI World Cup series this season, Bell proved he was more than capable of winning a medal.
“For me I headed into worlds as a favourite for a medal and certainly, based on the year, should have been capable of a top-five,” wrote Bell in an email to the News. “When racing started I made some mistakes but also did not have the form I expected to have based on the training I had been doing.
“I had thought we got the training and preparation right but for many of the events I would say that we did not. I had some of my worst performances and times all year in some events.
“On the up side I was able to make adjustments throughout the event to push back up the leader board.
“Having the worst race of the year and finishing sixth in the Worlds is evidence of big progress. In years past having good legs and finishing sixth would have been a satisfying result. Now I know when I get it right I will be hard to beat.”
In eighth place after the first three of six races of the omnium event, Bell actually began the championships with his best result, taking first in the flying lap race. (The flying lap race is an individually timed race in which cyclists complete three laps of the track with their fastest determining their placement.)
“I seem to be naturally capable in that event,” wrote Bell. “I probably spent the least time working on it and it was still the best result.”
The 28-year-old followed up the flying lap race with a 12th in the points race and 14th in the elimination race, an event Bell has struggled in all season.
On Saturday, he was 10th in the individual pursuit, sixth in the scratch race and ninth in the time trial.
If he could redo any of the events, the points race would be the one, he said.
“This is one where I know I could have made the difference even with the form I had,” wrote Bell. “I was a bit rusty and the decision making process was not what it has been in other races – those split seconds of consideration cost me a lot of energy. This is something I addressed by the scratch race and it was obvious there I could do better in the bunch-races, if I did the right things.”
Before winning the UCI Track Cycling World Cup series, Bell, who is Sport Yukon’s International Male Athlete of the Year for the last three years, won a bronze and took in two other top-10 results at the Commonwealth Games in October.
Last August, he firmly established himself as the country’s top track cyclist winning four golds and a silver at the 2010 Track Cycling Canadian Championships.
Bell is currently in France where he will meet up with his professional road racing team, SpiderTech.
“I am also happy to be disappointed with sixth, if that makes sense,” he added. “It means things are moving in a good direction. I was extremely happy with the work the staff did through this whole year and the Worlds was no exception. The professionalism of the group of people we have around us is fantastic and pushes us to perform better.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org