A new Canadian record, three personal best times and a silver medal. Not bad for someone who hadn’t raced on a track in seven months.
Watson Lake’s Zach Bell was at the top of his game at the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Cali, Colombia over the weekend.
The national team member and defending World Cup track champion took silver in the multi-event omnium, posting personal best times in all three timed events
“It was good to get back to the track and get back to the business this year is going to be about, which is the Olympics and the track,” said the 29-year-old.
“The bunch-races went well. I think they went better than the results indicated.
“It was good to see, especially with the training I’ve had so far this year.”
Though he only wrapped up his road-racing season a couple months ago, Bell opened the omnium with his best finish and three races later set a new Canadian record in the 4000-metre individual pursuit. In the pursuit he finished sixth with a time of four minutes, 27.686 seconds, breaking the Canadian record he set last season by three seconds.
“That was one we were hoping to see improve and we did,” said Bell. “Being under 4:30 is a really important barrier for that event to be competitive overall.”
Bell’s second-place performance came in the flying lap race – another personal best with a time of 13.155 seconds. Not only was it his first race on the track in seven months, he had barely trained for that particular event.
“It went better than expected. In training we haven’t really touched that at all,” Bell told the News from just outside Los Angeles, where he is training with the national team.
“We wanted to see what (would happen) if we went down there and I hadn’t touched it at all and, apparently, not training in it worked better than training it. I went faster than I ever had.
“Technically it wasn’t a great ride too, so to go that fast and technically not be perfect, was really positive. It means the strength and overall speed is there.”
He then raced to 10th in the points race and took seventh in the elimination race, an event he’s still trying to get a handle on.
“That’s one I’ve struggled in a lot,” said Bell. “I’ve been a bit frustrated with that one because I just haven’t been able to get the job done and it’s been hard to figure out why.
“This one went a lot better. I think I’ve been able to figure out the flow of the race and how it works. I got put out by a technical execution thing I did wrong. And it was in a later part of the race that I haven’t been able to race because I’ve been put out earlier.”
Bell finished the omnium taking fifth in the scratch race and third in the one-kilometre individual pursuit with another personal best time of 1:03.805.
Having skipped the previous World Cup event in Astana, Kazakhstan last month, Bell is currently ranked fifth on the World Cup leader board.
Bell forewent the Track Cycling Canadian Championships this past summer to race with SpiderTech Powered by C10, Canada’s only pro-continental team, in Europe. However, he did win bronze with SpiderTech at the Canadian National Road Championships in June.
“On paper that was probably the best result I had this year,” said Bell. “I think there were some other highlights in terms of the level we were racing at in Europe. The results maybe weren’t there, but to be competitive in those races as a team I was happy with. To be competitive as a team was pretty special.”
Before winning the UCI Track Cycling World Cup series last January, Bell won a bronze and took in two other top-10 results at the Commonwealth Games. In March, Bell finished sixth at the 2011 UCI Track World Championships in the Netherlands. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Bell finished seventh in the points race.
Despite all his successes at the international level, Bell still had appreciation for the recognition he gets at home, receiving a Community Recreation Leadership Award at the Sport Yukon’s Awards Night less than two weeks ago.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com