Five years ago, she gave up speed skating for cycling due to an injury and after turning pro in 2014 – racing on two wheels as opposed to two blades looks good on Kirsti Lay. The 29-year-old, who rides for Rally Cycling, opened up a 26-second lead early to claim victory in the 35-lap, 36-kilometre MK Delta Lands Criterium on Friday night to kick off BC Superweek and the Tour de Delta. However, having such a large lead so early in the race did not make things easy on her though.
“I had a great team behind me so I could take a risk early, I knew there was more than one of us that could finish off the race, and that’s the fun part of being on such a great team,” explained Lay, who was second in both last month’s Canadian road championships and May’s Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau.
Lay has represented Canada numerous times in track cycling, winning five medals in team pursuit, including gold at the 2015 Pan-Am Games, silver at the 2016 World Championships and 2015 Pan-Am Championships, and bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2015 World Championships. Despite stellar results on the track, Lay is putting her focus on road racing.
“It’s always good to switch things up and keep racing exciting and the love of the sport going. This has been really fun to put a lot of effort into the road this year and it’s been a really good summer,” she explained.
In second – and 32 seconds back – was Lay’s teammate, Allison Beveridge, who is the reigning women’s Canadian road champion. The 24-year-old from Calgary relished in being a nuisance to other riders, to protect her Rally Cycling teammate’s position.
“It was really fun! I kind of got to be people’s shadow, which I’m sure was a bit frustrating, but Kirsti was just off the front riding super strong,” described Beveridge, who was also a teammate of Lay’s in the team pursuit at the 2016 Rio Olympics. “It gave us lots of options just to cover and have some fun out there, and watch her do all the hard work,”
Although it looked quite calculated that Lay went so early and separated herself from the pack, it wasn’t exactly the game plan Rally Cycling had going into the race.
“We were just going to read the race and see what happened out there. We know we have a good team with lots of cards to play so it leaves us with options and we just have to go race our bikes. It’s a lot of fun being able to go out and do that.”
In third was Elizabeth Williams from Hagens Berman | Supermint. The Melbourne, Australia native finished the race in one hour, three minutes and 22.44 seconds, four seconds behind Beveridge and 36 seconds back of Lay.
BC Superweek and the Tour de Delta continues on Saturday with the Ladner Criterium. The women’s race starts at 6:15 pmwhile the men begin at 7:25 pm.