June 3, 2008 – “What is opportunity, and when does it knock? It never knocks. You can wait a whole lifetime, listening, hoping, and you will hear no knocking. None at all. You are opportunity, and you must knock on the door leading to your destiny. You prepare yourself to recognize opportunity, to pursue and seize opportunity as you develop the strength of your personality, and build a self-image with which you are able to live — with your self-respect alive and growing.”
Team H&R Block wound up the month of May and started the month of June with two races in central Alberta over the weekend — Criterium Maximum in Red Deer on Saturday followed by the Pigeon Lake Road Race on Sunday.
Criterium Maximum, a new race on the Alberta road circuit, featured a tricky course around the perimeter of the parking lot of the Red Deer Centrium, home of the local junior hockey team. For spectators and racers alike, it was akin to a race on the velodrome, albeit with one right turn. The entire course was in clear view from the finish line, allowing for tactics and strategy to be on display for all. After a few laps with the peloton together, H&R began launching riders off the front, with the intention of fracturing the field and establishing a breakaway. Particularly active were Ryan McKenzie, Mark MacDonald, Aaron Schooler, Cyrus Kangarloo, and Chris McNeil. Joining these riders off the front was the ERTC brother combination of Dan and Jon Wood, in addition to David Larson from Juventus. Using their strength-in-numbers, H&R ultimately succeeded in putting five riders off the front of the race and isolating their opposition behind. At the finish, Kangarloo was just ahead of MacDonald, with McKenzie, McNeil and Schooler rounding out the top-five for an H&R sweep.
Sunday’s race was a classic of the Alberta calendar, the Pigeon Lake Road Race. This race attracts the largest field of any one-day event on the prairies, with 250 riders contesting seven categories. The Category 1/2 men’s field was close to sixty in number, with strong contingents from ERTC, Pedalhead Road Works, and United Cycle. The H&R plan was simple: to make the race hard by sending riders off the front, and hopefully establish a breakaway where the team would outnumber the opposition. The breakaway happened about fifty kilometers into the 134 km race, with H&R represented by Anthony Steenbergen and Jeff Bolstad. Later, the breakaway composition changed, with several riders dropping off and H&R rider Cyrus Kangarloo bridging up to the group containing Steenbergen and Bolstad with Team Saskatchewan’s Nathan Underwood. The tension increased late in the race, with the remaining four breakaway riders barely surviving in front of a rapidly closing peloton. Jeff Bolstad, H&R’s quick sprinter, took the win in front of Kangarloo (2nd), Underwood (3rd), and Steenbergen (4th).
The two races also featured combined omnium results, with Kangarloo finishing 1st, Bolstad 2nd, MacDonald 3rd, McKenzie 5th, Steenbergen 6th, McNeil 7th, and Schooler 8th. Next up for Team H&R Block, the team will test its legs against west-coast competition at a B.C. Cup road race in Abbotsford on Sunday, the 7th of June. Track specialist Mark MacDonald, meanwhile, will be in action this coming weekend at the Velocity Shish-Ka-Bob Track Meet in Edmonton.