If fans watching the Choices Markets Criterium on Friday night noticed something very familiar on the podium when a women wearing a bright yellow jersey took the top step, it’s because the same scenario has played out at BC Superweek two other times in the last seven days.
Shelley Olds (Ale-Cipollini) finished two seconds ahead of last year’s winner Alison Jackson, who isn’t wearing her usual TWENTY16 p/b Sho-Air kit, but is riding for the Canadian National Team. For Olds, it’s not only her second straight win at BC Superweek, but her seventh straight podium appearance as well.
“The course was harder than the other courses at BC Superweek, so it was kind of survival today. The teams couldn’t help each other so much in this type of course, so I thought, ‘Okay, make it hard’ and get the best training that I can,” the 34-year-old who makes her home in Gilroy, California said. “With the crowds and everything, it’s so nice to be alone and hear everybody yelling for you.”
Jackson relishes the pressure that comes with representing her country, but admits that being the only member of her team at BC Superweek is a bit difficult.
“It’s been hard for the whole week, I stand out with the Maple Leaf kit on – which I love – but it makes it harder, and to not have a team… but that being said, Shelley is making these races hard and I like that. It’s better than just sitting in, so I feel like I earned this one today,” said the Abbotsford native. “I know Shelley was interested in just making it a hard race and she’s a strong sprinter who could take every sprint away and just ride in easy, but she really wants to make the race exciting, which is cool for these types of races. I knew Opus was going to do a lot of attacks and my goal was to make some breaks and if I could get in the right one with Opus or Shelley, it would be good. But the race was so hard, in the end I just wanted to save energy, be on the right moves, and when it came around to the corner, even though you’re hurting so bad, you’ve got to put in that extra dig and I came out with second, so it’s good.”
Despite being the course being only one kilometre distance and the riders only doing 30 laps, it’s the make-up of the criterium, especially with a downhill finish line that adds an extra challenge.
“There’s a lot of power stuff in this course, like the hill on the east side is short, but it’s a climb with power. Those kind of things suit me, the corners are wide, and so that’s good,” continued Jackson. “A lot of it has to do with how you position yourself and what other teams do, so it’s a different kind of ride every time.”
With Saturday’s road race, Olds has the opportunity to wrap up BC Superweek with one of the most dominant performances ever in the series. Although the 2012 US Olympian stressed earlier in the week that she was using all of the races as training for the women’s Tour de France next week, she admits it would be special to make an eighth straight podium appearance with a Top-3 finish in the road race.
“Of course, and racing professionally, the road race is sort of what I need to be good at. I’m really looking forward to doing that race and being successful because it’s at the end of all the hard races and it’s really a test of the legs at this point,” she said.
Fans were thrilled to see a local rider hit the podium with Justine Clift (Glotman Simpson Cycling) coming third behind Olds and Jackson. The 27-year-old from South Surrey has only been racing bikes since 2012 after car accident rendered her unable to continue her career in track-and-field and cross-country running.