According to Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell, 27, last week’s time trial, “was a solid end to two weeks of racing.”
Racing in the 40-kilometre time trial last Wednesday at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, Zach produced his second top-10 finish, coming seventh.
“I knew it would be a good course for me if I could conserve the right amount of energy for the way back, knowing the headwind was going to be tough,” said Bell, in an interview from Vancouver over the weekend. “I think I rode a good race. I didn’t really have any mistakes in terms of pacing, and the guys that finished ahead of me were just a little stronger on the day.
“I am reasonably happy about it. The last Commonwealth Games, I finished 12th (in the time trial).”
Competing in four races in total at the Games, the highlight for Bell was a bronze medal in the scratch race on October 8, making him the first Yukoner to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games since weightlifter Emily Quarton won silver at the 2006 Melbourne Games.
“Obviously the bronze medal was a big ride for me, I think I rode really well that day and I think the other days I was pretty much on par with the form I had,” said Bell.
“It was good to be solid and be one of the guys, especially for the road stuff, because I’ve been struggling this year (on the road) and there was a pretty strong field there.”
Bell began the Games with his poorest result, taking 15th in the strategic 160 lap, men’s 40-kilometre points race and later taking 11th in the 167-kilometre road race.
“I am not happy with the result but it was an all or nothing situation,” wrote Bell in an e-mail to the News following the points race. “I was riding well, but as the race went on, mitigating the team tactics became more and more difficult.
As I am not peaked for the track this made it more difficult. I gave all I could to get a medal and that meant putting in a hard move towards the end that would either put me back close to the podium or take me out of the race. Unfortunately it did the later.”
With constant preparation and racing, Bell did not get to play tourist much while in Delhi, but from an athlete’s perspective, he seems to feel the host nation did a excellent job providing suitable venues for competition.
“The venues were amazing,” said Bell. “They were well spoken of across the board – all the athletes were really surprised with the conditions. The track was pretty outstanding. It was similar to venues we race at all across the world.
“I didn’t get out to see much because I was pretty much racing from the day I got there to the day I left.”
Bell’s bronze at the Games caps off a productive summer-season of racing.
The elite rider won four gold and one silver at the 2010 Track Cycling Canadian Championships in Bromont, Quebec, at the end of August. 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.
Bell, who cycles for Kelly Benefits Strategies Pro Cycling Team out of Minneapolis, was competing in his second Commonwealth Games, having competed in Melbourne, 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 summer and began the year winning two gold medals at a World Cup event in Beijing.
Bell also competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, finishing seventh in the points race.
Another full season ahead, Bell will soon start preparing for World Cups starting in late November with one in Melbourne, Australia followed by events in Columbia, Beijing and Manchester, England.
Bell was one of three Yukoners representing Canada at the Commonwealth Games. Weightlifter Emily Quarton, who was mentioned above, finished fifth in the women’s 58-kilogram class. Swimmer Mackenzie Downing also produced some top-10 results competing in the butterfly, coming eighth in the 50-metre, ninth in the 100-metre and sixth in the 200-metre.
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