First All-Canadian Men’s Finish at Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix Since 1984

History was made Wednesday night at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix as for the first time since 1984 when Alex Steida, Brent Mudry, and Bruce Spicer finished 1-2-3, three Canadian men stood atop the podium.

It was also the exact same podium as Friday’s MK Delta Lands criterium, which also saw Kitchener, Ontario’s Ryan Roth (Silber Pro Cycling) win ahead of Garrett McLeod of Vancouver (H&R Block Pro Cycling) and Abbotsford resident Will Routley (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). The way the race wrapped up was also similar to Friday’s crit as Roth built a lead with three laps to go and with the help of his Silber teammates, including Matteo Dal-Cin, build more of a gap than the field could make up.

“Really it was just like last Friday night with the same top three in the same scenario. Ryan had his teammate attack and he’s riding so strong. I kept looking over my shoulder to see the break chasing us and then Ryan and Eric Young – two of the strongest finishers in the race – so we were really expecting that would be the play for the finish. I found myself out there so I had to try my best and found the podium, I just couldn’t finish it,” said Routley.

In addition to seeing three Canadian men atop the podium for the first time in recent memory, Wednesday’s was also the first time in a long time that the finish came down to a breakaway as opposed to a sprint, which suited Roth just fine.

“Being aggressive paid off and we’ll probably keep racing that way because a bunch sprint is always a lottery and right now we don’t have a big, big favourite in those kind of finishes so we’re always going to be on attack,” he said after completing the 50-lap, 60 kilometre course in one hour, 16 minutes, and 50 seconds, four seconds ahead of McLeod. “There was one word I said to Matteo – ‘attack’. With about five to go, I said ‘We’re going to start going, one after another and hopefully one of us gets away’, and it only took two laps, so we can’t complain about that.”

Routley was as surprised as anyone that the finish played out the way it did.

“I wasn’t expecting it to finish in a breakaway either, it hasn’t probably since it was pouring rain here (in 2007). I’m pretty happy about the podium, it’s pretty great, but at the same time, once Roth came across, Silber had two guys and that changed the dynamic,” he said.

With the experience of what happened just five days ago at the Tour de Delta fresh in his mind, McLeod thought Roth might put the race out of reach went he went 45 laps into the race.

“The strong break was up the road for a while and my team didn’t have a guy there, so on the little riser (just before the start/finish line), I hit it and got across with Ryan and then the Silber guys played it really well at the end. Matteo went and I jumped pretty hard to try and close that, but when he was back, Ryan was off right away,” said McLeod, who was the 2010 Canadian National U23 Criterium Champion. “I think a lot of the guys that had been out there were pretty cooked because the group was breaking up and no one really had the legs to pull Ryan back.”

Both the stage announcers and his coach Gord Fraser, who won the Gastown Grand Prix himself in 2003 and 2005, alluded to the fact that the Roth may be a sleeper in Canadian cycling.

“Ryan’s such an incredible leader of the team. There’s a lot of guys getting a lot of ink, but Ryan just produces time in and time out,” Fraser exclaimed. “He’s the most consistent rider we have in Canada and to see him win tonight was just a real pleasure for me.”

For his part, Roth is happy with the decision to join Fraser’s Silber team last year.

“I’m really happy with Silber right now and I think the goal is to just continue to take small incremental steps up and see how far we can go,” the 32-year-old former Canadian National Road Race Champion said. “I think everybody’s happy with the progress and we’re doing a little bit better than people expected so we’re trying to keep that momentum.”

BC Superweek is Canada’s biggest professional road cycling series and features more than $120,000 in prize money available during eight races over nine days. BC Superweek runs from July 10 – 18, and is made up of the Tour de Delta (July 10, 11, 12), UBC Grand Prix p/b Mahony & Sons (July 14), Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (July 15), Giro di Burnaby p/b Appia Development (July 16) and Beverley by Cressey presents Tour de White Rock (July 17, 18).