Shelley Olds came to Metro Vancouver to ride BC Superweek as training and preparation for La Course by Le Tour de France next week in Paris, but somewhere along the way, the motivation became even more than that. As the 34-year-old rode without any teammates, cleaned up prime after prime, and found herself on the podium at race after race, the motivation also became the chance to make history at Canada’s biggest professional road cycling series.
And make history she did as the Team Ale-Cipollini rider completed one of the most dominating performances ever at BC Superweek with a win in the 36thedition of Sunday’s Peace Arch News Road Race as part of the Beverley by Cressey Tour de White Rock. Olds and Vancouver’s Sara Bergen, who is riding for Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes, broke away from the pack with three laps to go and built a 90 second gap.
Bergen actually broke away earlier and it was part of her game plan to push Olds as much as she could, especially with a handful of her Trek Red Truck teammates in the chase.
“It’s great knowing you have three or four strong teammates behind you. It gives you the strength to make those moves and take those chances. With Shelley in the field and riding so strongly, we definitely had to make some moves to make it hard (on her),” explained Bergen, who tried to shake Olds on the last lap. “”I pretty much took the hills as hard as I could and Shelley’s a strong lady so that didn’t go too well for me. And then I actually got a flat tire along the straightaway leading to the finish line, but still, she’s a strong sprinter and I did what I could.”
Olds ended up finishing the eight lap, 80 kilometre race in two hours, 25 minutes, and ten seconds.
“The tactic was to cover the girls I know have been strong all week and the teams that obviously had four to five riders. I just can’t let anything go because I’m alone so I have to try to cover everything,” she said. “Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, so when I saw there was one rider off the front and there wasn’t a big interest to chase, I decided it was time to go – it’s now or never, so I jumped across.”
Now Olds turns her attention to La Course by Le Tour de France – and she enters the race on a major roll – with an eye on a podium finish on the Champs-Élysées.
“It’s a huge goal of mine, if I get onto the podium there, it’s because of all the training I’ve gotten here, the good competition, and the motivation from the crowds to race hard and aggressive.”
Regardless of how she performs in Paris, Shelley Olds endeared herself to cycling fans in British Columbia with a performance for the ages. Even she admits she’ll miss the races of BC Superweek.
“I wish I didn’t have to go! I want to stay and race some more and hang out and see these beautiful towns, it’s been awesome,” she added.
In third was Montreal’s Lex Albrecht, who races for Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies. She was second in the Peace Arch News Road Race in 2013, en route to claiming the Tour de White Rock omnium that year.