South Delta is starting to feel like home for American cyclist Steve Fisher as he took top spot at the White Spot Delta Road Race Sunday afternoon in Tsawwassen for the second straight year.
It was the first International Cycling Union (UCI) sanctioned win for the Seattle-based Hagens Berman Cycling team member.
The designation means that the Tour de Delta is the first road race in Western Canada on the UCI’s America Tour Calendar. With international sanctioning and awarding of official UCI points, the road race drew a deeper, stronger field of top professional cyclists from all over the world.
The race itself saw a nine rider break early, which expanded to fifteen in the latter portion of the 151-km trek as the pack closed the gap on the first group.
“It was a long day, the team played it pretty conservative at first, I had three guys in there and they were pretty motivated to keep the gap up,” Fisher explained. “So that played well into our hands and my teammate Chris Wingfield came up with two laps to go to help keep that gap up through the sprint.”
As for the success in Delta, the 23-year-old Fisher is quick to deflect the accolades to his teammates at Hagens Berman Cycling, which is based out of Seattle.
“It was a big win for me last year, it was good racing by the team, it’s great racing all week, so I’m happy to back at BC Superweek and glad I could repeat today.”
North Vancouver’s Ryan Anderson wrapped up an outstanding performance at the Tour de Delta with his third straight podium finish as part of Team Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies. Anderson followed up back-to-back second place finishes in Friday’s MK Delta Lands Criterium and Saturday’s Brenco Criterium with a third place finish in Sunday’s White Spot Delta Road Race.
“It was a nice day and the lead road racer was excellent,” said the 25-year-old product of the Victoria Academy of Cycling. “We raced hard all the way to the end and came up just a little bit short, but we’re still happy to be on the podium.”
Anderson said he hopes to improve his finishes and top the podium as BC Superweek rolls on.
“Delta’s always been special to me, I’ve always done well here and used it to build towards better finishes,” he said.
The changes to the course for the White Spot Delta Road Race this year meant the women were riding seven kilometres less than in past years, but it certainly didn’t diminish the excitement.
With most of the riders grouped together for most of the race, it took a sprint in the last 50 metres for Leah Kirchmann of Team Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies to claim first place in
the third stage of the Tour de Delta. In a close second was Elle Anderson of Team Vanderkitten, with Team NOW and Novartis for MS rider Robin Farina in third.
Kirchmann, who is reigning Canadian Criterium National Champion, enjoyed the challenge the new road race presented.
“I think this road race is almost like a crit course, there are a lot of corners,” the Winnipeg native expressed immediately after crossing the finish line. “The last few laps were pretty hard, there were a couple of individual riders who got off the front and my team did a great job sitting on the front and bringing them back at the perfect moment. Then they were able to give me a lead out for the final corners and make my job much easier.”
For Elle Anderson, the second place finish was her third straight day on the podium at the Tour de Delta after third place finishes in Friday’s MK Delta Lands Criterium and Saturday’s Brenco Criterium, and it ensured that she’d claim first place in the Women’s Omnium.
“I was paying really close attention to where everyone was, making sure where the other top overall riders were and looking for my teammates and just trying to be aware of that second-to-fifth field because that was the best place to be for those twisty turns right before the finish,” Anderson reflected. “I made it through there okay with good positioning and that really helped.”
The excitement of the men’s road race being UCI sanctioned for the first time ever, has lead the women to hope the same can be said for their road race at the Tour de Delta in 2014.
“We really want to see the women have a UCI race here next year and maybe have a Tour de Alberta, have a women’s stage race in conjunction with that race as well, so hopefully it can become a reality,” said Farina.