Zach Bell closes out Superweek with super win

Ironically, B.C. Superweek spans more than a week. From start to finish it’s 10 days of hill climbs, criteriums and road races. It’s comprised of five independent events.

Ironically, B.C. Superweek spans more than a week. From start to finish it’s 10 days of hill climbs, criteriums and road races. It’s comprised of five independent events – the Tour de Delta, the UBC Grand Prix, the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, the Giro de Burnaby and the Tour de White Rock – some a single race, some a three-stage event.

It’s a Herculean task for riders. For B.C. cycling fans it’s a chance to see Canada’s best in action day after day.

Like Zach Bell, for instance. Fresh off his triumph at nationals, the Watson Lake cyclist raced in almost every event, donning his Canadian champion jersey in the road races.

On the final day, he gave Canadian fans what they came for: to see him top an international field as the current national champ.

“It’s good to be back and do these races, it’s been a couple years at least since I’ve done them,” said Bell. “So it was nice to race at home again and nice to race with the jersey on.

“There was a crazy amount of support for me from the fans. Even though I wasn’t smashing in the results there all week, there were a lot of people pretty keen to see me race.

“I had good performances, but no significant results until the end here.”

Bell capped the tight-knit series of events by winning the final stage of the Tour de White Rock, the Peace Arch News Road Race, on Sunday.

The 30-year-old claimed first, crossing the finish line over four minutes ahead of second place’s Michael Schweizer from Team Germany.

It took Bell 3:31:38 to complete the 130-kilometre course, which felt more like a 150- or 160-kilometre course, he said. The tough course in White Rock also kept riders racing with their teams at bay, said Bell, who was there without his new Hong Kong-based Champion System Pro Cycling Team.

“This last course was one of the ones where the team wasn’t the deciding factor,” said Bell. “It’s a really tough course. On a team you have stronger guys and weaker guys and if the stronger guys are chasing down guys in the front really hard, they end up losing their weaker guys.

“Where on more moderate courses the weaker guys can share the load a bit more for quite a bit longer into the race.

“This one you can whittle it down quite a bit and it becomes a lot fewer guys (at the front). The race was down to basically 13 guys in the first 60 (kilometres).”

The wee town of Watson Lake was well-represented at Superweek.

Fellow Watson Laker Jesse Reams, who now rides with Vancouver-based Trek Red Truck Racing Team, took in a top-20 finish during the 10 days. Reams placed 17th in the hill climb to open the Tour de White Rock. Reams and Bell also led the field during Sunday’s road race for a time, but Reams couldn’t keep pace and did not finish.

“He was actually in the breakaway with me today – it was the two of us who went away at first,” said Bell. “So I was trying to help him out, trying to get him to come along, but he still has a few years of training I think before he’s going to keep up with me on a course like that.”

Bell opened Superweek with seventh in the criterium in the Tour de Delta while Reams took 36th out of 89 riders.

Bell, a two-time Olympic cyclist, then grabbed 18th in the second criterium in the Delta tour. He also took 15th in the UBC Grand Prix on July 9 at the University of British Columbia.

Bell and Reams raced to 22nd and 41st, respectively, in the Giro de Burnaby last Thursday.

Bell placed 16th in the Tour de White Rock criterium Saturday after skipping Friday’s hill climb, in which Reams produced his top-20 finish.

“I had a long week and the hill climb doesn’t really suit me too well,” said Bell. “It’s two hours of driving to go out and race for two minutes, so I took a pass on that.”

Sunday’s win marks Bell’s fourth this season. He won his first national road title at the 2013 Canadian Road Championships in St-Georges, Que., last month. He also took fourth place in the time trial and eighth in the criterium at the nationals.

Before that he won a stage in the Tour de Korea on June 14 and a stage in the Tour de Taiwan in March.

Reams is also having a good season on the road. The 24-year-old rode to two second-place finishes at the Robert Cameron Law Cycling Series last month in Victoria, B.C. Reams also won the Enumclaw Stage Race in Enumclaw, Washington, two months ago and the Arizona State Criterium Championships mid-April in Phoenix.

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