Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix

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Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix
The start of the first leg of the 2010 race in Nevada City.
Race details
Date July 10, 2013
Region Gastown, Vancouver, Canada. (North America)
Discipline Road
Type Criterium
Organiser Global Relay
History
First edition 1973
Editions 29 (as of 2012)
First winner  Bill Wild (Canada)
Most wins  Ron Hayman (Canada)
(3 wins)
 Verna Buhler (Canada)
(3 wins)
 Gina Grain (Canada)
(3 wins)
Most recent  Ken Hanson (USA)
 Leah Kirchmann (Canada)

The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix is a criterium cycling race held in Gastown, the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The race is part of BC Superweek, a series of nine races held over 10 days in July in the greater Vancouver area.

Founded by a local dentist and bike racer, Roger Sumner, in 1973,[1] the Gastown Grand Prix regularly attracted professional riders from across the continent along with crowds of 20,000 to 30,000 spectators.

Following an eight-year hiatus from 1994 to 2001, the race returned in 2002 as the Tour de Gastown, running until 2008 before once again stopping due to lack of sponsorship.[2]

On January 27, 2012, Global Relay, a Gastown-based technology services firm announced that it would be Title Sponsor and Operator of the race for five years through 2016.[3] The 29th edition of the race took place on July 11, 2012.[4] It featured the largest winning prizes of any criterium in North America, with $40,000 in total prizes, including $15,000 to the top finishing male rider and $8,000 to the top female.[5] 2013's race marked the 40th anniversary since the first race in 1973, and featured an increased total prize purse of $50,000.[6]

History[edit]

In 1973, a Vancouver dentist, Dr. Roger Sumner, came up with the idea to have a bike race in Gastown, the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver. An accomplished bike racer himself, he wanted to organize a race that was easily accessible to the public to show them how spectacular top level bike racing in Canada could be. Sumner himself competed in the Gastown Grand Prix until 1978. He was later inducted into the BC Hall of Fame for his 30 years of service to the sport in the roles of racer, coach, manager and racing organizer. He died in 2000 after being hit by a car while riding his bike.

First race[edit]

The first Gastown Grand Prix was held in 1973. The race ended with Bill Wild, a sprinter, versus New Zealander and three-time Canadian National Road Champion Max Grace on the final lap.[7] Wild won the race and took home a colour TV as first prize.[8]

Early years[edit]

In the 1970s, winners of the Gastown Grand Prix included Bill Wild, Max Grace, Brian Keast, and David Watkins. By 1976, 122 elite cyclists from Canada and Mexico were signed up to race the GP. In 1977, racers from the US made their first appearance at the criterium by entering 25 riders in the race. One of these riders was 18 year old Davis Phinney. Phinney later went on to become an Olympic medalist and winner of two stages of the Tour de France.[9] In 1979, Canadian cyclist Alex Steida made his first appearance at the race as National Junior Track Champion. Steida hit a pedestrian during the race but there were no serious injuries. In 1980 Stieda, still a junior, took his first victory in Gastown in front of crowds that numbered in the 20,000s.[10] Steida later became the first North American to earn the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France.

Arrival of professional teams[edit]

The 1980s saw the arrival of the first professional racing category racers at the GP. Canadian Pro racer Ron Hayman, of Vancouver, won three titles at the GP.[11] Hayman was one of only three Canadian Pros on the world circuit at this time. In 1982 he won again, beating out Steida who came second and Canadian National Team member Bernie Willock who placed third. Eric Heiden, the five time American gold medalist in speed skating, only managed fourth place in this exceptional field.[12] In the 1980s, women cyclists began to establish themselves in the GP with the emergence of a Women's category. 1981 National Road Champion Verna Buhler of Canada won the first womans title in 1982. She went on to win two more titles in next two years.

The Pro team of 7-11 dominated GP races in the mid to late 1980s with many podium results. Begun in 1981 as an amateur team, 7-11 become a Pro team in 1985.[13] It raced at many Grand Tours of Europe. First place results were taken at the GP during the 80's by team members Brian Walton, Alex Steida and Norm Alvis.[14]

1990s: youth vs. experience[edit]

The 1990s saw some young and relatively inexperienced riders winning the GP over older and more established racers. Many younger riders saw the GP as a great opportunity to compete against more seasoned professional racers. One of these was twenty-year-old John Mckinley, who won the race in 1992. A young 19 year old US racer named Jonas Carney also won the event in 1990.[15]

In 1991, another 19 year old won the race. It was Lance Armstrong, who made his appearance at the GP as an amateur racer. He won the race over Alex Steida, who placed second.[16]

Many times a medalist at Olympic and World mountain bike events, Canadian Alison Sydor also rode her first GP in 1991 and won the women's race. Sydor went on to race in many other future GTGP events. In 1993, the Pro team of Coors Light dominated the GP. Sprint specialist Roberto Gaggiolli won with Swedish World Road champion Marianne Berglund victorious in the women's race. Clara Hughes, Leslie Tomlinson and Sara Neil are notable Canadian women racers who rode in the GP in the early 1990s.

The GTGP took a nine-year hiatus in 1994 after not being able to secure sponsorship.[17]

Big name riders draw crowds[edit]

The event returned in 2002 attracting 28,000 people to the streets of Gastown. With $10,000 up for prize money, Mark McCormack of the Saturn Pro team won with help from teammate Canadian Olympian Svein Tuft. The Saturn Team was one of the top three Pro US teams at this time and its racers dominated the race. Kim Davide, also riding for Saturn, won the women's race. In 2003, Germany’s Ina Teutenberg, one of the premier woman sprinters in the world at this time, held off Alison Sydor to win the race. Thirty-five-year-old Gord Fraser was victorious in the men's event coming first out of 137 other riders.[18]

US track team member for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Jonas Carney of US came back to the GTGP in 2004 and won the race for a second time. He first won the GP fourteen years earlier in 1990 as a 19 year old. Manon Jutras, 1994 Canadian Olympic road team member was victorious in the women's event.

Other highlights of the mid-2000s include the appearance of the UCI Continental Symmetrics cycling team at the GTGP. The team was composed wholly of Canadian riders like Svein Tuft, Andrew Pinfold and Eric Wohlberg. By 2006, the GTGP was attracting 40,000 spectators and was offering $15,000 in prize money. Gord Fraser was a double GTGP winner with victories in 2003 and 2005. Also in 2005, Gina Grain burst onto the scene and won the first of three career victories at the GP. Her other first place wins were to come in 2006 and 2008.[19] Grain used the 2008 race as preparation for the Beijing Olympics, which were going to be held two weeks after the Gastown race. Many other riders also used the GP as final preparation for the Olympics. Sprinter Andrew Pinfold of the Symmetrics team, with the help of his Olympic bound teammate Svein Tuft and seven other teammates, won the 50 lap men's race by only a bike length.[20]

Return of sponsorship[edit]

In 2009, the race again took another hiatus as it was without sponsorship until 2012, when Global Relay, a Gastown-based technology services firm, made a multi-year commitment to become title sponsor and operator, bringing the race back to Vancouver once again for the 2012 cycling season and beyond. The 2013 race was won by American Ken Hanson and Canadian Leah Kirchmann, both of the Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies team.[21]

Winners - Men's Race[edit]

Year Winner Hometown Team
2013  Ken Hanson (USA) Santa Barbara, California Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
2012  Ken Hanson (USA) Santa Barbara, California Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
2008  Andrew Pinfold (Canada) Woodbridge, ON Symmetrics
2007  Kirk O'Bee (USA) Ada, Michigan Health Net p/b Maxxis
2005  Gord Fraser (Canada) Nepean, Ontario Health Net
2006  Hilton Clarke (Australia) Victoria, Australia Navigators
2004  Jonas Carney (USA) Milwaukee Jelly Belly
2003  Gord Fraser (Canada) Nepean, Ontario Health Net
2002  Mark McCormack (USA) Plymouth, Maine Saturn
1993  Roberto Gaggioli (Italy) Limite S'Amo, Italy Coors Light
1992  John McKinley (USA) Sacramento, California Spago
1991  Lance Armstrong (USA) Austin, Texas Subaru/Montgomery
1990  Jonas Carney (USA) Milwaukee Subaru/Montgomery
1989  Norm Alvis (USA) Sacramento, California 7-Eleven
1988  Brian Walton (Canada) North Delta, BC 7-Eleven
1987  Gary Anderson (New Zealand) Wanganui, New Zealand Cyclesport NZ/GENL M
1986  Andy Paulin (USA) San Diego 10 Speed Drive
1985  Chris Carmichael (USA) San Francisco 7-Eleven
1984  Alex Stieda (Canada) Coquitlam, BC 7-Eleven
1983  Ron Hayman (Canada) Vancouver, BC 7-Eleven
1982  Ron Hayman (Canada) Vancouver, BC 7-Eleven
1981  Ron Hayman (Canada) Vancouver, BC 7-Eleven
1980  Alex Stieda (Canada) Coquitlam, BC
1979  David Watkins (Canada) Port Moody, BC Grab On/Chinook
1978  Brian Keast (Canada) Port Coquitlam, BC]
1977  Lawrence Malone (USA) San Francisco
1976  Bill Wild (Canada) Port Moody, BC
1975  Brian Keast (Canada) Port Coquitlam, BC
1974  Max Grace (Canada) Vancouver, BC
1973  Bill Wild (Canada) Port Moody, BC 7-Eleven

Winners - Women's Race[edit]

Year Winner Hometown Team
2013  Leah Kirchmann (Canada) Winnipeg, Manitoba Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
2012  Loren Rowney (Australia) Gold Coast, Australia Specialized–lululemon
2008  Gina Grain (Canada) Burnaby, BC Webcor Builders
2007  Erinne Willock (Canada) Victoria, BC Expresscopy.com
2006  Gina Grain (Canada) Burnaby, BC Colavita Cooking Light
2005  Gina Grain (Canada) Burnaby, BC Victory Brewing
2004  Manon Jutras (Canada) Drummondville, Quebec Quark
2003  Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Germany) Düsseldorf, Germany Saturn
2002  Kim Davidge (Canada) Burlington, Ontario Saturn
1993  Marianne Berglund (Sweden) Sweden
1992  Laura Charameda (USA) San Diego Team Body Wise
1991  Alison Sydor (Canada) North Vancouver, BC
1990  Sara Neil (Canada) Vancouver, BC
1988  Aine O'Hagen (Canada) White Rock, BC
1987  Elizabeth Jansen (USA)
1986  Becky Brindle (USA) Snohomish, Washington
1985  Peggy Maas (USA) Colorado Springs, Colorado Metros
1984  Doreen Smith (Canada) Delta, BC
1983  Verna Buhler (Canada) Manitoba
1982  Verna Buhler (Canada) Manitoba
1981  Verna Buhler (Canada) Manitoba
1979  Dawne Deeley (Canada) British Columbia

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gastown was never like this!". The Vancouver Sun. July 23, 1973. 
  2. ^ "Popular B.C. cycling race to make a comeback this year". The Province. April 11, 2002. 
  3. ^ "Global Relay Brings Bicycle Racing Back to Gastown for 2012 and Beyond" (Press release). Global Relay. January 27, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ Kendra Wong (2012-02-02). "Renowned bike race returns". Metro Vancouver. Metronews.ca. Retrieved 2012-06-27. 
  5. ^ "Story - Sports". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2012-06-27. 
  6. ^ Gauthier, Jennifer. (2013-07-11) In Pictures: Gastown Grand Prix | Metro. Metronews.ca. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  7. ^ "Wild, Grace grab big Gastown prizes". Competitive Cycling. August 17, 1973. 
  8. ^ "Gastown Race". Vancouver Sun. July 11, 1973. 
  9. ^ "U.S. cyclists top winners in Gastown Grand Prix". Vancouver Sun. August 2, 1977. 
  10. ^ "Steida pedals to win at the wire". Vancouver Sun. August 5, 1980. 
  11. ^ "Hayman flying in Gastown". The Province. August 4, 1981. 
  12. ^ "No Other Event Like This One". The West Ender. August 5, 1982. 
  13. ^ "Yanks flock to cycling GP". The Province. March 8, 1985. 
  14. ^ "10 Years of Gastown; The Grand Prix in Review". Bicycling News Canada. Summer 1983. 
  15. ^ "American tenderfoot breaks from pack to win Gastown". Vancouver Sun. July 2, 1990. 
  16. ^ "Youth Triumphs". The Province. July 21, 1991. 
  17. ^ "Commonwealth Games Drain Away Bicycle Support". The West Ender. March 3, 1994. 
  18. ^ "Fraser Flows on Water Street". The Province. July 24, 2003. 
  19. ^ "Race team persues perfection". The Province. July 13, 2006. 
  20. ^ "Cyclists get powered up for Beijing". The Province. July 17, 2008. 
  21. ^ Hanson, Kirchmann win Gastown Grand Prix - Sports - Vancouver Courier. Vancourier.com (2014-02-22). Retrieved on 2014-04-12.

External links[edit]