Watson Lake’s Zach Bell is now, without exaggeration, Canada’s best track cyclist.
The 27-year-old elite rider hammered home that point by winning four gold and one silver at the 2010 Track Cycling Canadian Championships, held at the National Cycling Centre in Bromont, Quebec, over the weekend.
“It went pretty well – according to plan,” said Bell. “I don’t think storming through all the results necessarily means there’s no depth there. It was really good to see there was some really good young guys and it got me more excited for the future, to compete against some of these guys again.”
Bell picked up his golds – his national titles – in the individual pursuit, points race, scratch race and the omnium. He only came up short in the one-kilometre time trial, taking silver.
“The guy who won that has generally been pretty good at it in the past,” said Bell.
“I knew he could do a good one-kilometre and I kind of got stuck in the gate, which cost me a bit of time. But he beat me by enough that I don’t think I would have beat his time, even having a perfect ride.”
The omnium was the big achievement for Bell, he said, being a sort of overall prize based on accumulated points.
“Winning the omnium overall is pretty important for me to stamp my authority on that,” said Bell. “That’s the next Olympic event leading into London, so that’s pretty important.
“But the points race is always a grueling event and it’s the one I’ve been working on for a long time, so I like to go to nationals and win that one. Particularly now, because I’ve got guys gunning to put me in trouble in that one. When I can keep in control of it and things generally go my way, I know the training is on the right track.”
His gold in the points race is his fifth straight for that event at the nationals, starting his spree in 2006. While representing Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Bell’s best result came in the points race, taking seventh.
Bell’s four national titles will undoubtedly provide him with some extra confidence when he takes to the track at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India at the start of October as a member of Team Canada.
“We’re getting pretty excited about that,” said Bell. “For the next few weeks we’re all focused towards getting ready for that.
“I’m going to do some individual work back in Vancouver for the next couple weeks and then I’m going down to our centre in Los Angeles and sharpen things up down there before I come back for few days before heading over to India.”
Bell, who cycles for Kelly Benefits Strategies Pro Cycling Team out of Minneapolis, was named to Canada’s Commonwealth Games team at the end of July, joining just 12 other male and female riders from across Canada.
Making the team means Bell’s second trip to the Games, having competed at the last ones in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006, finishing fifth in the scratch race. Bell also set a Canadian record in Melbourne – four minutes and 31 seconds over four kilometres – in the individual pursuit, a record that stands today.
In mid-July, Bell won the Tour de Delta road race in Delta, BC, breaking away from the lead pack of 10 riders in the final eight kilometres for the win. He has also had top-five finishes in a couple American stage races over the last few months and began the year winning two gold medals at a World Cup event in Beijing.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org