Trace, Guloien pedal to Bastion Square GP wins

Tyler Trace soaked in the moment after winning the La-Z-Boy Bastion Square Grand Prix men’s cycling race Sunday afternoon before thousands of onlookers who lined the tight downtown Victoria course.

“The crowd and atmosphere was incredible … this is one of my favourite races,” he said.

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The post-race interview over the public address, in front of the large gallery, was conducted by three-time world women’s mountain biking champion and 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics silver medallist Alison Sydor.

“This is a great cycling town. It breeds great cyclists and a lot of great cyclists have come out of Victoria —just look at you,” said Trace, referring to Sydor.

The city’s cycling depth was borne out during the Timbits kids race Sunday, which featured honorary riders such as Sydor, current two-time Tour de France racer Ryder Hesjedal, Olympian Erinne Willock and pros Rob Britton and Will Routley fresh off the Tour of California.

“If even one of these kids is inspired to become passionate about cycling, then it will all have been worth it,” said Victoria lawyer Bob Cameron, who has become title sponsor of the annual Robert W. Cameron Law Cycling Series that included Friday’s ProCity Bear Mountain Hill Climb, Saturday’s Russ Hays Sooke Classic Road Race and Sunday’s Bastion Square Grand Prix.

“It’s so valuable for every sport to have its heroes,” added the 45-year-old Cameron, the 1997 Sooke Road Race champion, who competed in Sunday’s Bastion Square Grand Prix.

“For local kids to see the level of success that Island cyclists have achieved in the Summer Olympics, and as professionals, is integral to the continued success of Island cycling.”

Continuing this tradition is a labour of love for Cameron, who said his title sponsorship is “well into the five figures, but well worth it because it’s an opportunity to give something back.”

In the women’s Bastion Square Grand Prix race, 45 laps around the 900-metre course from Fort to Government to Yates to Wharf, Tour de Delta champion Leah Guloien of Total Restoration Cycling Team pipped Willock of Webcor Builders Pro Team at the line in a sprint finish that included Amy Dearden, Naomi Cooper and Julie Garnet.

Willock, who at Beijing in 2008 joined her dad Martin Willock and uncle Bernie Willock in the pantheon of Canadian Olympians, was looking for the triple-header after winning the women’s Bear Mountain Hill Climb on Friday and Sooke Road Race on Saturday.

It’s all part of Victoria’s passing parade of cyclists.

The men’s 75-lap Bastion Square race saw Cyrus Kangarloo of Total Restoration make a bold breakaway, to great applause, only to see the pack catch up and pass him.

The champion Trace, a 25-year-old business management student at Royal Roads University, joins a list of past men’s winners that includes Atlanta Olympic medallist Brian Walton, Olympian Andreas Hestler and world and Commonwealth Games champion mountain bike Roland Green.

In rarefied company, Trace knows where he wants to be headed in his career.

“I would love to represent Canada,” he said.

Trace didn’t have to look far outside his own Trek Red Truck Racing/Mosaic Homes team for inspiration. Former Red Truck teammate Britton turned pro last year with the noted U.S.-based Bissell Pro Cycling Team.

“I see how professional Rob is and what it takes to get to the next level,” said Trace.

And climbing to that next level has become a handy habit of so many racers who have come out of the Bastion Square Grand Prix.

cdheensaw@tc.canwest.com

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