Tour of Alberta Report
American Evan Huffman of Rally Racing took a flyer and broke away from the lead group on the lower slopes of the climb up to Marmot Basin to win Delta Air Lines Stage 1, Friday.
Huffman’s win was his sixth of the year, after winning two stages of the Tour of California in May. Last year’s 3rd place finisher overall jumped from the lead group of approximately 20 with less than 8-kilometres from the summit to defeat teammate and fellow American Sepp Kuss. The 2015 winner up to Marmot Basin Ski Area, The Netherlands’s Tom-Jelte Slagter of Cannondale-Drapac, finished third a distant :27 seconds behind Huffman.
“I felt like I was cracking about one kilometre from the finish,” admitted Huffman. “I kept looking back, but I didn’t see anyone so I just hung on.”
Slagter, perhaps Huffman or Kuss’s biggest threat to win the overall championship by Monday’s finish in Centre City Edmonton, said he didn’t want to go too soon on the final 10-kilometre climb, afraid to “blow up”. Slagter knew the steep grades of the final 300 metres were steep and more could be lost than gained.
Young Canadian Jack Burke of Squamish, B.C., who races for Aevolo, garnered both the FC Edmonton Best Young Rider and Pomeroy Inn & Suites Canada 150 Best Canadian Jersey. Burke said it was by far the biggest accomplishment for the 22-year-old who got his start by racing mountain bikes.
“This is the biggest accomplishment of my career and great for our team, which is a new one,” said Burke. “We hope to keep it going the next few days.”
The 165-kilometre race started in the Town of Jasper before routing three laps through the majestic roads of Jasper National Park. Smoke from the wild fires in British Columbia at times made breathing tough for the world-class field of cyclists from 14 countries. The stage finish at Marmot Basin was the second in the five-year history of the ATB Tour of Alberta. A replica of Friday’s stage was raced two years ago.
“It was a great day overall,” said ATB Tour of Alberta CEO Scott Fisher. “
With such an important stage for time gaps out of the way, today’s Stage 2 road race in Spruce Grove, will make teams like Cannondale-Drapac and Holowesko | Citadel presented by Hincapie Sportswear no doubt re-evaluate how they will attack.
Saturday’s 133-kilometre race will start at 1:15 pm on King Street in Spruce Grove and routes north and west of the city out on Range Roads 274 and 540, up 779 to 37 westerly before heading north on Highway 777 before heading back east on Highway 642 around Sandy Beach and south on Highway 44 and zigging around 633 and back in. The finale in Spruce Grove will feature three finish laps. The estimated finish is between 4:25 and 4:45 pm.
1. Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling 3:48:46
2. Sepp Kuss (USA) Rally Cycling 0:15
3. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac 0:28
4. Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:30
5. Jack Burke (Can) Aevolo 0:32
6. Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 0:38
7. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling 0:41
8. Rob Britton (Can) Rally Cycling 0:42
9. Taylor Shelden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 0:44
10. James Piccoli (Can) Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling 0:47
11. Matteo Dal-Cin (Can) Rally Cycling 0:50
13. Nigel Ellsay (Can) Silber Pro Cycling 0:55
18. Jordan Cheyne (Can) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 0:58