Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix
|Date||July 10, 2013|
|Region||Gastown, Vancouver, Canada. (North America)|
|Editions||29 (as of 2012)|
|First winner||Bill Wild (Canada)|
|Most wins|| Ron Hayman (Canada)
Verna Buhler (Canada)
Gina Grain (Canada)
|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, 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.
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. The 29th edition of the race took place on July 11, 2012. 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. 2013's race marked the 40th anniversary since the first race in 1973, and featured an increased total prize purse of $50,000.
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.
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. Wild won the race and took home a colour TV as first prize.
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. 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. Steida later became the first North American to earn the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France.
Arrival of professional teams
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. 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. 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 women's title in 1982. She went on to win two more titles in the 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. 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.
1990s: youth vs. experience
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 19-year-old US racer named Jonas Carney also won the event in 1990.
In 1991, another 19-year-old won the race. This was Lance Armstrong, who made his appearance at the GP as an amateur racer. He won the race, dropping his breakaway companion (Matt Eaton, who placed second) on the last lap.
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.
Big name riders draw crowds
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.
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. 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.
Return of sponsorship
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.
Winners - Men's Race
|2013||Ken Hanson (USA)||Santa Barbara, California||Rally Cycling|
|2012||Ken Hanson (USA)||Santa Barbara, California||Rally Cycling|
|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–Maxxis|
|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
|2013||Leah Kirchmann (Canada)||Winnipeg, Manitoba||Rally Cycling|
|2012||Loren Rowney (Australia)||Gold Coast, Australia||Velocio–SRAM Pro Cycling|
|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|
- "Gastown was never like this!". The Vancouver Sun. July 23, 1973.
- "Popular B.C. cycling race to make a comeback this year". The Province. April 11, 2002.
- "Global Relay Brings Bicycle Racing Back to Gastown for 2012 and Beyond" (Press release). Global Relay. January 27, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- Kendra Wong (2012-02-02). "Renowned bike race returns". Metro Vancouver. Metronews.ca. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- "Story - Sports". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- Gauthier, Jennifer. (2013-07-11) In Pictures: Gastown Grand Prix | Metro. Metronews.ca. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
- "Wild, Grace grab big Gastown prizes". Competitive Cycling. August 17, 1973.
- "Gastown Race". Vancouver Sun. July 11, 1973.
- "U.S. cyclists top winners in Gastown Grand Prix". Vancouver Sun. August 2, 1977.
- "Steida pedals to win at the wire". Vancouver Sun. August 5, 1980.
- "Hayman flying in Gastown". The Province. August 4, 1981.
- "No Other Event Like This One". The West Ender. August 5, 1982.
- "Yanks flock to cycling GP". The Province. March 8, 1985.
- "10 Years of Gastown; The Grand Prix in Review". Bicycling News Canada. Summer 1983.
- "American tenderfoot breaks from pack to win Gastown". Vancouver Sun. July 2, 1990.
- "Youth Triumphs". The Province. July 21, 1991.
- "Commonwealth Games Drain Away Bicycle Support". The West Ender. March 3, 1994.
- "Fraser Flows on Water Street". The Province. July 24, 2003.
- "Race team persues perfection". The Province. July 13, 2006.
- "Cyclists get powered up for Beijing". The Province. July 17, 2008.
- Hanson, Kirchmann win Gastown Grand Prix - Sports - Vancouver Courier. Vancourier.com (2014-02-22). Retrieved on 2014-04-12.