Comox Valley Cycling Club members and Mark Isfeld students Ben Katerberg and Isaac van der Vliet, travelled to Quebec July 6-13 for an International Junior Road Cycling event, the Tour of Rimouski.
The boys were part of the Cycling BC Team which included Connor Martin from Kelowna and Riley Pickrell form Victoria. The boys flew to Quebec under the guidance of Cycling BC coaches, John van der Vliet (also from the Comox Valley) and Wes Ochitwa.
The Tour is a five-stage event over five days and attracts the best cyclists aged 15-16 years from Canada, USA and Columbia. The race includes a Team Time Trial, Individual Time Trial, Criterium and two Road Races featuring some of the most gruelling climbs.
The four young men showed their superiority early on with the first event, the Team Time Trial. Even with a minor hiccough that slowed their momentum they were able to post the fastest time for the 7km course, 8mins and 17seconds (6 seconds in front of second place) and an average speed of 50.7km/h.
The second stage was a demanding 78km Road Race with an elevation gain of 1183m. Katerberg showed everyone he was in a league of his own, breaking away early on. An unfortunate crash only 10km in to the race saw van der Vliet lose valuable time and affect his overall standing.
“The last three stages were just me trying to catch back up,” said van der Vliet while congratulating his teammates and thanking his personal coach Peter Reid and sponsors.
The only riders willing to try to bridge the gap Ben had made in the second stage were his other two teammates, Martin and Pickrell. Katerberg Ben was able to hold on to his lead until the finish and Martin and Pickrell were able to make it on to the podium with him, finishing 2nd and 3rd to give the BC Team a clean sweep of the podium.
The third stage was a 15km Individual Time Trial. Katerberg continued to show that he is a head above the rest, posting the winning time of 21:05. The only rider coming close to Katerberg’s time was his teammate Pickrell, who finished second.
The fourth stage was a 35km Criterium in downtown Rimouski. The B.C. boys all made the race with their aggressive riding. The teammates gave the crowd an example of what racing is all about with attacks and counter attacks from van der Vliet and Martin showing outstanding aggressive riding and great teamwork, resulting in a depleted field. Pickrell was free to snag the win in a sprint finish.
The final stage was the gruelling four-lap Road Race that included the infamous Cathedral Hill with an inclination of 12 per cent for a total elevation gain of 1076m.
Team BC showed great teamwork highlighting each others strengths. Once again van der Vliet was able to use his experience to put pressure on the other teams by constantly attacking the peloton, giving his teammates some well earned rest. Katerberg was able to lead out the sprint in the final stretch to give Martin the win.
Katerberg summed up his experience by saying, “What an honour it was representing B.C. at Le Tour de la Releve Internationale de Rimouski. I am so thankful that I was able to experience such a high-calibre race with such a great group of guys…”
The B.C. team finished with the Overall Team Classification win, Katerberg with the Yellow Jersey (Individual Classification) and Martin with the King of the Mountain Jersey and second overall.
Team support Heather Martin said, “B.C. should be very proud, and to each home community of these racers, who have fostered these boys and fuelled their passion to race – thank you.”
Coach John van der Vliet added, “I am so proud of all four boys. Throughout the Tour I had race organizers, other team coaches and fans come up to me and not only compliment the way the boys raced, but also how nice they were off the bike. They raced and acted like pros!”