Tomorrow, Gastown becomes the epicentre of professional cycling as we close down the streets, line up the fences and welcome over 200 passionate riders from all over the world. The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix is an annual Canadian Pro ½ criterium race with a valuable and interesting history. Many of North America’s great names have raced the cobblestone streets of Gastown throughout the years. It is now regarded as one of the most popular one-day bike races in North America and certainly the largest prize purse of any criterion in the continent with a $50,000 equal prize purse including $13,000 each for the men’s and women’s winners. During the race, riders also compete for lap-specific cash or prizes called primes.
Top competitors have included Coquitlam’s Alex Stieda, the first North American ever to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France; and Canadian Olympian Ron Hayman, the only man to the race three times.
On The women’s side, notable Gastown winners incude three-time mountain bike World Champion Alison Sydor, who along with Verna Buhler shares the record for most Gastown victories with three first-place finishes.
THE FIRST GASTOWN GRAND PRIX
In 1973, local coach and racing mentor, Dr. Roger Sumner conceived the idea to have a bike race in Downtown Vancouver and where better than Gastown. Sumner, a racer himself, wanted to organize a race that would attract locals and the public to the exciting world of top level bike racing in Canada. Gastown was the ideal location for a Crit. Reminiscent of villages in Europe with meandering cobblestoned streets lined with colourful cafés, historic buildings and faces filled with character, Gastown Grand Prix was born. Dr. Sumner himself competed in the Gastown Grand Prix until 1978.
The First Race
The first GGP was held in 1973. The track, wending and winding through the cobbled streets of Gastown, proved to be electrifying from the beginning. The race ended in dramatic fashion with Bill Wild, one of the finest sprinters of the time, trading punches with transported Kiwi and three time Canadian National Road Champion Max Grace while battling it out in the final sprint. Wild won the race and took home first prize, which was a colour TV.
The Early Years
The 1970’s GGP races were contested by the finest bicycle racers in Canada. By 1976, 122 elite cyclists from Canada and even Mexico were signed up to race the GGP. 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. In 1980 Stieda, still a junior, would take his first victory in Gastown in front of crowds that now numbered in the 20,000’s.
Emergence of the Pro Teams
The 1980’s saw the emergence of the first Professional racing category racers attend the GGP. Canadian Pro racer Ron Hayman, of Vancouver, won three titles at the GGP. In this decade, women cyclists began to establish themselves in the GGP with the emergence of a Women’s category. 1981 National Road Champion Verna Buhler of Canada won the first woman’s title in 1982. She would go on to win two more titles in next two years.
The 90’s: Youth vs. Experience
The 1990’s saw some young and relatively inexperienced riders winning the GGP over older and more established racers. Many younger riders saw the GGP as a great opportunity to compete against more seasoned professional racers, with some of them producing breakthrough results. 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.
The GGP took a nine year hiatus in 1994 after not being able to secure sponsorship.
Big Name Riders Draw Crowds
Due to the hard work and dedication of the Gastown BIA, The Pace Group and The City of Whiterock, 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 fellow 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 Davidje, also riding for Saturn, won the womens 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 mens event coming first out of 137 other riders.
US track team member for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Jonas Carney from the US, came back to the GGP 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 womans event.
The Legendary Race Returns
In 2009, the race again took another hiatus as it was without sponsorship until 2012, when Global Relay, a Gastown-based technology firm, made a multi-year commitment to bring the race back to Vancouver once again for the 2012 cycling season and beyond.
Source: Anita Cancian https://www.globalrelayggp.org/about-the-event/history/
|2018||Kendall Ryan (USA)||Thousand Oaks, California||Tibco–Silicon Valley Bank|
|2018||Eric Young (USA)||Boulder, Colorado||Rally Cycling|
Riders to watch in The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix 2019
Emile Jean Floyd’s Pro Cycling
It’s tough enough to juggle everything life throws at us – but imagine juggling a pro cycling career along with finishing a mechanical engineering degree! That’s exactly what Emile Jean did back in 2017. It was part of a breakout year for the fourth-year pro from Trois Rivieres, Quebec which saw him post stage wins at the Grande Prix Cycliste de Saguenay and the Tour de Beauce. The 25-year-old narrowly missed the podium at last year’s Tour de Delta | White Spot Road Race and finished fourth, but Jean did place third at the 2018 Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix.
Florenz Knauer Independent
It is a common sight to see Knauer on the podium during BC Superweek. He finished no worse than third seven times out of nine races in 2018, including a win at the New West Grand Prix for the second straight year, and second place at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix. The German also had six top-10 finishes in 2017, 2016 and 2014 at BC Superweek, along with five top-10 appearances in 2013 and 2015. The 30-year-old has also been either first or second in the the Tour de White Rock presented by Landmark Premiere Properties omnium (total points) every year for the last seven, earning him the nickname “Mr. Tour de White Rock”.
Travis McCabe Floyd’s Pro Cycling
McCabe is the defending US Pro Criterium National Champion after claiming the crown earlier this week in Knoxville, Tennessee. He also won the US national criterium championship title in 2017. The 30-year-old is a four-time stage winner at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (twice in 2018, plus once each 2017 and 2016) and a two-time stage winner at the Tour of the Gila, including this past May. The Prescott, Arizona native also won a stage and the points jersey at the Tour of Langkawi in April. McCabe finished second in Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California earlier this spring.
Marko Pavlic DCBank Pro Cycling Team
2019 is the first year Pavlic has raced with the DCBank Pro Cycling Team after being signed late last year. So far this year, the 26-year-old was 7thin general classification at May’s Tour of the Gila after finishing top-20 in all five stages. Other career results for Pavlic from 2018 include placing 3rd at Tour of Quanzhou Bay, 6th in the Tour of Fuzhou general classification and 7th in Stage 1 of the Tour of Fuzhou. Pavic, who’s from Slovenia, was 7thin general classification and 4thin points classification at Course de la Paix U23 in 2015.
Dylan Simpson New Zealand National Cycling Team
Simpson is part of another strong Kiwi contingent racing BC Superweek this year. The 18-year-old finished 9thamong U23 riders in the 2019 Oceania Road Championships Road Race and 11thin the individual time trial. At this year’s New Zealand Elite Track Championships, Simpson was fifth in points as well as the scratch race. He also served as a New Zealand road and track rep from 2016 to 2018 and represented his country at the 2018 Commonweath Youth Games.
Campbell Stewart New Zealand National Cycling Team
Stewart, who won the 2017 Giro di Burnaby presented by Appia Development, is New Zealand’s most successful track cyclist at the junior world championships with four gold medals and one silver in 2015 and 2016. He moved to elite in 2017 to place second in the omnium and Madison at the UCI World Cup in Los Angeles. Stewart was also part of the Team Pursuit that won the World Cup competitions in Canada and Chile. This year, he came second in the omnium at the Hong Kong World Cup and first in the Madison, then won the omnium at the World Track Champs in Poland in March. He was a member of the New Zealand Team that rode the second fastest time in history at the Cambridge World Cup this past January.
Ed Veal RealDeal Racing
A familiar face at BC Superweek over the years, “Real Deal” Ed Veal is a relative latecomer to the pro cycling scene. He started road racing in 2006 at the age of 29. The Queensville, Ontario resident represented Canada in the Men’s 4 kilometre Team Pursuit at the 2015 Toronto Pan-Am Games, winning bronze. On April 10, 2015, Veal set the Canadian “Hour Record” at the Milton Velodrome, covering 47.59 kilometres in 60 minutes. In 2011, the 42-year-old attended the Para Pan-Am Games where he rode tandem as the guide for Daniel Chalifour in visually impaired events and won a gold, a silver, and two bronze medals.
Eric Young Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling
Young is the defending back-to-back-to-back champion at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix to go along with top-10 finishes at the race in 2013 and 2014. This year, he looks to rewrite the record book as the only cyclist to win the prestigious race four times. Young dominated BC Superweek last year with four wins and three other podium appearances. The Boulder, Colorado resident is a nine-year pro who won the US National Criterium Championships in both 2011 and 2013 and was second this year. The 30-year-old also won Stage 4 of the Tour of the Gila in May and was second in Stage 1 of the Tour de Taiwan in March.
Marie-Soleil Blais Astana Women’s Team
Blais, who retired from competitive hockey at 23 once her university playing career was over, fell in love with cycling after using it to recover from injuries suffered on the ice. She turned pro just this year after signing with Astana back in November 2018. The 30-year-old was third at last year’s Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix and eighth at the Tour de Delta | White Spot Road Race. She is coming off a stretch last month that saw her post four top-10 finishes. Blais was eighth at the Canadian National Championship road race and third in the individual time trial. She also placed eighth at the UCI 1.1 Chrono de Gatineau and sixth at the UCI 1.1 Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau.
Margot Clyne Sho – Air TWENTY20
Highly involved in the collegiate cycling scene, Clyne raced in the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference, where she managed and led the University of British Columbia’s cycling team. She graduated from UBC in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Math and a minor in Atmospheric Sciences. The 24-year-old from Boulder, Colorado dominated last year’s USA Collegiate Championships, finishing first in the road race, individual time trial, and omnium. She also came third in the USA Collegiate National criterium. She was also the 2017 USA National Champion in the hill climb. BC Superweek fans will remember that Clyne was second in the 2017 Tour de White Rock Westminster Savings Road Race.
Maggie Coles-Lyster Pickle Juice Pro Cycling Team
Coles-Lyster is a rising star in Canadian cycling. The 19-year-old from Maple Ridge, BC has been racing against the pros at BC Superweek since she was 15 and had five top-10 finishes last year, including podium appearances at the Giro di Burnaby, PoCo Grand Prix presented by Dominion Lending Centres and the Tour de White Rock Choices Markets Criterium. So far this year, Coles-Lyster has wins at North America’s oldest race – the Tour of Somerville, along with the CBR Carson Criterium and the Tour of Walla Walla criterium. A candidate for Canada’s 2020 Olympic team, she won the women’s points race at the 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Leigh Ann Ganzar Hagens Berman-Supermint
Despite only starting bike racing five years ago, Ganzar already has a US Pro Criterium Championship to her name after stunning the field to win in Knoxville, Tennessee last year. A runner in college, the 29-year-old is quickly making a name for herself in cycling, adding a win at the UCI 1.1 Winston Salem Cycling Classic two months ago to her already impressive resume. Also this spring, Ganzar finished third in two stages of the Tour of the Gila in May as well as third in Stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California and Stage 1 of the Joe Martin Stage Race.
Alison Jackson Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank
Jackson is coming off sixth place in the road race and a fifth place finish in the individual time trial at the Canadian National Championships last month. A multisport athlete who is also adept in cross-country running, Jackson was the 2015 Canadian National Criterium Champion. The Vermillion, Alberta native returned to BC Superweek last year after not racing the series in 2017 and finished in the top-10 at every race in the series in 2018. Among those results were wins at the Tour de White Rock Choices Markets Criterium and Westminster Savings Road Race along with claiming the Tour de White Rock omnium. She was also fourth at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix and the New West Grand Prix.
Steph Roorda Sho – Air TWENTY20
The 32-year-old from Calgary, Alberta has shone for Canada on the international stage. Roorda, a former downhill skier, is a Canadian Women’s Team Pursuit Record holder. In 2009, she was first in the Women’s Team Pursuit at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics and claimed second and third at the event in 2011 and 2010 respectively. She won a bronze medal for Canada in the women’s 4000m cycling team pursuit at last year’s Commonwealth Games. At BC Superweek, Roorda was third at the inaugural New West Grand Prix in 2017 and finished with four podiums during the series in 2016, including a win at the Westminster Savings Road Race as part of the Tour de White Rock.
Kendall Ryan Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank
Much like last year, Ryan has momentum coming into BC Superweek, as she was third at last month’s US Pro Criterium Championships. She is the back-to-back winner of the White Spot | Delta Road Race and was dominant once again at BC Superweek in 2018. She won the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, all three Tour de Delta races, the PoCo Grand Prix, and was third at the Giro di Burnaby. In total, Ryan has eight BC Superweek wins over the last two years. This year, she looks to be just the second woman ever to win three straight at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, joining Verna Buhler who did it from 1981-83. The 26-year-old Ryan was born into a family of cyclists and began racing BMX at 6-years-old.
Lily Williams Hagens Berman-Supermint
After a second place finish at last year’s White Spot | Delta Road Race, the 25-year-old Williams looks to make her way to the top of the podium this year. She was sixth at the UCI 1.1 Winston Salem Cycling Classic in May after winning the race a year ago. Williams had a breakout year in 2018, with eight wins and ten podium finishes. In 2017, she shocked the field by winning Stage 3 of the UCI 2.2 Joe Martin Stage Race as an amateur. Before picking up cycling in 2016, she was a one-mile runner in high school and then college at Vanderbilt University.
Cambie St. & Water St.
Abbott St. between W. Cordova St. & Water St.
Gassy Jack corner:
Water St. & Carrall St.