Tuft and Shaw dominate Tour de White Rock Criterium
A couple of Canadian champions put on a cycling clinic at the Tour De White Rock’s Choices Market Criterium on Saturday night.
Rhae Shaw, wearing the Maple Leaf jersey as the current Canadian Criterium champion, built a sizeable gap during the 30-kilometer women’s race, piling up preem money before crossing the finish line alone for the victory.
And Svein Tuft, who recently won his eighth Canadian Time Trial Championship, was even more dominant in the men’s race, breaking away early in the 60-lap race around the hilly one-kilometer street circuit, and almost lapping a strong field for his third win at BC Superweek.
It was also the third Criterium win in front of family and friends at the Tour de White Rock for Tuft, who was born up the road and calls Langley home when he’s not racing on the top-level World Tour in Europe for Orice-GreenEDGE. Tuft, who was ninth in the final-day time trial at this year’s Giro di Italia, finished the 60-kilometer solo dash in one hour, eight minutes and 54.3 seconds, pulling up behind the field the last 10 laps rather than passing in order to easily collect a $700 crowd preem.
“I love this course, it’s always a really difficulty course and the kind of course a team can’t control because it’s so hard on the back stretch and always a bit of wind so you just got to put your head down,” Tuft, who also won in 2006 and 2010, said of a backside that is entirely uphill. “It’s really hard because guys have so much horsepower on the initial climb but if you keep steady and keep taking away the time, it’s hutting, but you know eventually you can crack them.”
Ryan Anderson, a former teammate of Tuft’s locally who no rides in Europe for Steve Bauer’s Team Spidertech, was next across the line 38 seconds later, winning a bunch sprint for second ahead of Germany’s Florenz Nauer.
“Svein gets out there and it’s just too much work to chase that guy down,” said Anderson, who won the second criterium at last weekend’s Tour de Delta after Tuft won the first. “So I figured I’d see if I could pick up a bunch finish.”
Anderson’s Spidertech teammate, Will Routley, tried to stay with Tuft on the early break, but was back in the pack within a couple laps while Tuft gradually built up his gap. For Tuft, who also raced away from the field in BC Superweek’s opening race in Delta, and won in a two-man break at the UBC Grand Prix Tuesday, it was a little like old times – before the student became the teacher.
As a young rider new to the sport, he often recalls the lessons he learned from a similar breakaway with Brian Walton more than a decade ago. Returning as a Pro Tour rider and a marked wheel, he shared them on Saturday night.
“I was just getting schooled by Walton. He was teaching us lessons left, right and center,” Tuft recalled with a smile. “It’s the same thing. That brought me to a whole other level in the sense of understanding: One just how good the guys who are racing at a higher level are, and also: Two, how they race and how they go about a race like this. Brian was always a guy who raced every race hard when he raced locally. He put on a show and I think that’s’ a big part of it.”
For Tuft it was both a show and a how-to clinic for up-and-coming local riders.
“For anyone developing you have to push yourself, you can’t always be in the same comfortable zone,” he said. “If no one is throwing it down you aren’t gaining anything. If you can’t win here and can’t push the pace here, you are never going to learn and get better when you race the best of the best. Everything you learn here still applies. The tools you gain racing something like this will help you take it to the next level. You have to learn the lessons here and that’s what I try to tell the young guys, go out there and just don’t be afraid to blow up.”
Tuft certainly caused a few to do just that. So did Shaw in the women’s race.
Shaw, who missed the start of BC Superweek while pursuing an official protest of being left off the Canadian Olympic road cycling team she was on the short list for, completed the 30-lap race in 41 minutes and 9.9 seconds.
“Admittedly I am really disappointed to not be named to the Olympic team,” said Shaw, who was also second in the Time Trial at the recent Canadian Nationals, and won a silver medal in it at the 2012 Pan Am Championships. “But in the meantime I have really good fitness and I love to race my bike, so here I am.”
Shaw, 36, races better than most in Canada. She has piled up impressive results in Europe, and was seventh in the Time Trial at the World Championships last year, which also juts happened to be her first year riding full time.
An Ontario native now living in Seattle and racing for Exergy Twenty12, Shaw switched from triathlons to cycling in 2011, and quit her job as the technical advisor to the CTO at Microsoft to focus on qualifying for the Olympics.
“I wanted to make sure I took the opportunity to race my bike while I was still young and had the fitness to do it,” Shaw said. “I would rather race my bike with a few ‘oh wells’ rather than ‘should have, could haves,’ so looking forward I’m going to continue to race for as long as I love it.”
It certainly looked like Shaw, who was second in Friday’s grueling Hillclimb, was enjoying her domination at the 33rd Tour de White Rock, winning six of eight preem laps before cruising across the finish line by herself with arms raised.
“It’s fantastic to race when a community is so behind it and it really pushes the racers,” Shaw said.
Utah’s Nicky Wangsgard, a university professor in her final year of pro cycling for Primal/MapMyRide before becoming a team director, won a sprint for second in the women’s race – a little less than seven seconds behind Shaw, and 1.1 ahead of Quebec’s Joanie Caron, who rides for Coalvita-espnW Pro Cycling.
“I was going to go for some preems, but Rhae Shaw kept beating me to them,” said Wangsgard, who just turned 40. “This might be my last crit so I’m just trying to enjoy every moment and to be on the podium with her is a privilege.”
Caron also tipped her proverbial cap to Shaw, a teammate on the Canadian National Team.
“I know how fast she can go,” said Caron. “We should never have let her go.”
The nine-stage $105,000 BC Superweek and the 33rd Tour de White Rock both wrap up with the Peace Arch Road Race on Sunday morning.
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