To win the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix Wednesday afternoon, Olympic cyclist Denise Ramsden put on a clinic. For Trek Red Truck, that was exactly the idea.
Racing over decades-old cobblestones with the Trek Red Truck women’s team, Ramsden broke away on the fifth lap and slowly pulled ahead on each of the 35 tours of the 45-kilometre course.
“The thing is,” she said, “You have to take your chance.”
“It was pretty early so I was trying to temper my effort a little bit and make sure that I could ramp it up at the end a little more when I knew the girls would going hard. That far out, you never know, but I was willing to give it a shot,” said Ramsden, who missed the team’s pre-race meeting because her mom was recovering from surgery.
With 15 laps to go, the Vancouverite had a 52-second lead and couldn’t see anyone behind or ahead of her. The pack didn’t chase her. With two laps to go, she closed in and joined the back of the peloton to add an additional $400 to the $12,000 prize.
“I kind of expected the first few laps they might wait, but I figured with 12 or 10 to go, they would start go to [after me],” said the 24-year-old UBC graduate who will study law at the university in September.
Canadian Annie Foreman-Mackey finished second after she also left the pack. U.S. national team cyclist Shelley Olds, who has finished on the podium in all B.C. Superweek events so far, came third.
Ramsden, who was born in Hay River and grew up in Yellowknife, competed for Canada at the London Summer Games in road and time trial racing and joined Trek Red Truck this season to add her considerable experience to the Vancouver team. They discuss tactics and how to execute them, assigning roles and sticking to them. In the peloton, she’s talking to her teammates and giving them direction and confidence.
“She always throws down massive attacks,” said teammate Sarah Coney. “When Denise goes for it, she goes.”
Ramsden competed with last year’s winner Leach Kirchmann on the Optum Pro Cycling team that nabbed the $13,000 prize, the highest in women’s cycling in North America.
“It’s been a pretty good day the last couple years,” said Ramsden, who was all grins after the race. The prize money is split equally among all teammates.
“I think the past few races they’ve probably been getting tired of me saying, ‘Okay, we have to be aggressive.’ But it shows that it can pay off.
“Having someone with the racing experience from being on a bigger team — helping in the race in terms of strategy and believing in ourselves that we can go win big races, because we can.”
“It was a good night for the whole team,” she said.
Twitter and Instagram: @MHStewart