2018 US Pro Criterium National Champion Leigh Ann Ganzar Takes Women’s Race
Delta, BC – It’s a 14.5 hour flight from New Zealand to Vancouver, but for Regan Gough, it was well worth it as he kicked off the Tour de Delta and BC Superweek with a big win at the North Delta Criterium and the $1,200 cheque that goes along with it. Gough, who was part of the New Zealand team that finished fourth at the Rio Olympics and won the 2016 New Zealand criterium championship, sprinted ahead of Samuel Bassetti from Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling to wrap up the 45-lap, 54 kilometre race in one hour, 10 minutes and 53 seconds.
Gough was part of a break close to midway through the race that the peloton almost caught with about six laps to go, but without any teammates with him, he needed to be aware of the strong teams around him. “It was pretty tough out there, there were two Elevate guys and two Floyd’s Pro Cycling guys and they made me wait for it. They rode exceptionally well in that break and it was good to get out of the chaos in the group and just lean on it,” he said.
With Floyd’s riders Emile Jean and Noah Granigan pushing the pace in the lead group, Gough buckled down to get around those two on the final lap. “I just let it play out, obviously the other guys are going for it as well,” described Gough. “I just wanted to position myself and then up the final climb, try and be on the front coming into the final corner because the finish is so close. So, I just tried to grab the lead and hang on to it.”
Meanwhile, Bassetti had a teammate in the break as well, with George Simpson helping lead the charge. For a while during the race, things looked pretty good for the native of Santa Rosa, California. “We were happy with that break, there were some good guys in there and in the end, I just went early and didn’t have the legs to hold it. I just got beat at the line, but it was a fun race. Being at the front of this race is really cool and I’ve always wanted to come out and have a good ride here,” beamed Bassetti, who, in addition to Simpson, had two other teammates in the race. “We have three other guys who could have done what I did today. We’re really happy to be here and welcomed by everyone in the community.”
Last year’s third place winner at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, Jean also came third on Friday night in North Delta. He too was confident about the breakaway group late in the race. “It was me and Noah up there and we were pretty confident we could win from that group,” said Jean, who holds a mechanical engineering degree in addition to being a high level pro cyclist. “I think I had a miscommunication on the last few laps and unfortunately it cost us the race, but it’s the first day (of BC Superweek) and we’re happy with third place. “
The Tour de Delta North Delta Criterium Women’s Race was a look at tactical cycling to the nth degree. Eight women broke away from the field just five laps into the 40-lap, 48 kilometre and it stuck all the way until the last lap as 2018 US Women’s Pro Criterium National Champion Leigh Ann Ganzar sprinted to victory.
Ganzar and her Hagens-Berman | Supermint teammate Lily Williams were the only two riders from the same team in the break and they worked hard in driving much of the race. In fact, Williams did a lot of work in the breakaway. “Having Lily in the break was amazing, we knew we wanted numbers in the break which allowed us to have someone fresh in the end,” explain Ganzar, who was a runner in college. “Lily was covering moves too – so she rode an absolutely fantastic race and I couldn’t have done it without her.”
The 29-year-old just began cycling five years ago but looked familiar with the course in North Delta despite it being her first trip to BC Superweek. She knew how important it was to be first going into the last corner of the course. “Because it’s only 50 metres from there to the finish, you have to be first wheel and so it was really a sprint from that corner. Lily did an amazing job keeping it fast on that last lap and sort of put me in a perfect position.” Ganzar finished the race in one hour, 13 minutes and 23 seconds, one second ahead of Trinity Western University alumna Alison Jackson of Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank.
“It’s great to be here, so it’s off to a good start!” she grinned.
Third place finisher Marie-Soleil Blais was aware of Ganzar and Williams tactics for the final 35 laps of the race. “The fact that Hagens-Berman had two riders made it a little easier because Ganzar went up and I knew I was going to have to try to fight the sprint,” said Blais, who is coming off a stretch last month that saw her post four top-10 finishes. “I tried to get away with about ten to go but everybody was responding pretty well, so I knew then it was going to be a sprint. I knew I couldn’t beat the fastest two sprinters if I was behind them, so I regret that – but it was still a good ride.”
Despite being at BC Superweek without her Astana Women’s Pro Team, the 30-year-old former university-level hockey player is happy with the decision to come west for BC Superweek. “The team declined to do the Giro Rosa and I’m kind of glad because it’s so hot over there in Europe and brutal climbing. So at the last minute I had time to come here and it’s my sixth time here so I’m super happy to be back.”
BC Superweek and the $40,000 Tour de Delta continues Saturday in the historic fishing village of Ladner with the Ladner Criterium. The women race at 6:15 pm while the men take the course at 7:25 pm.
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BC Superweek is Canada’s biggest professional road cycling series and features more than $140,000 in prize money with nine races over ten days. BC Superweek runs from July 5 – 14 and is made up of the Tour de Delta (July 5 – 7), New West Grand Prix (July 9), Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (July 10), Giro di Burnaby presented by Appia Development (July 11), PoCo Grand Prix presented by Dominion Lending Centres (July 12), and Tour de White Rock presented by Landmark Premiere Properties (July 13 – 14).
For more information about BC Superweek, please contact Brian Wiebe at 604-916-8448 or email email@example.com.
Photos by: Chris Relke