It didn’t take German cyclist Florenz Knauer to figure out the unique – and grueling – Homelife Realty Hillclimb at the 33rd Tour de White Rock.
Knauer, who made the overseas trip to race BC Superweek with Team Baier Lanshut, took one look at the leg-numbing 700-meter ascent up a 16 per cent grade from White Rock beach Friday, and knew he only wanted to do it once. But he did so too fast, finishing in the top-5, which meant he had to go up again.
“The first, I hope I don’t ride again, but I must,” Knauer said with a smile through a distinct German accent.
But if he had to go up again anyway, Knauer figured he might as well go hard.
With fans lined five deep on both sides of the road to cheer them on as the sun set over the ocean in the background, the 23-year-old German used a strong kick over the final hill to pull away. Knauer, who was second in the first stage of BC Superweek at the Tour de Delta a week earlier, looked back and pumped his fists as he crossed ahead of local Jacon Schwingboth, and New Zealand’s Louis Crosby of PureBlack Racing.
“I go on [Schwingboth’s] back wheel and full gas at the end,” Knauer said.
For Schwingboth, who rides for the from Glotman Simpson Cycling Club, it was an important podium – his first at BC Superweek after a week of strong efforts, including an early breakaway at the UBC Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old New Westminster native is a six-time national champion on the track. But after winning the 2012 BC Road Race Championship in June, he is hoping to catch the eye of a pro team competing at BC Superweek, which has served as a springboard to a first contract for several other local riders.
“This is really big for me,” Schwingboth said. “I’ve been hitting it really hard trying to get noticed by the pro teams here, been in every breakaway possible so far at Superweek, going for a lot of preems to show I am fast, so this is a good chance for me to showcase my talent with a short time trial, which suits my ability.”
Don’t confuse that with thinking Friday’s climb was easy – either time.
“It was extremely hard going up,” he said. “The first time you don’t even remember the last 15 seconds. You are so blacked out. You’re tasting blood and just going as hard as you can, telling yourself not to stop the whole time.”
The second time wasn’t any easier, despite a slower start.
“It was a blackout race, we were going full tilt,” Schwingboth said.
Anton Varabei, racing on a borrowed bike after his was stolen overnight following Thursday’s Giro di Burnaby, finished fourth. Three-time Hillclimb champion Will Routley, a Whistler native now racing in Europe for Team Spidertech, was well back in fifth after being forced to go up the first time near the end of the initial heat, leaving him little time to recover before the top-five went up again.
Women’s race. Carrie Cartmill certainly didn’t mind going up the steep hill twice.
The 33-year-old Sault Ste. Marie native notched her first win in a comeback to competitive cycling, crossing the finish line ahead of Exergy TWENTY12’s Rhae-Christie Shaw, who was on Canada’s shortlist for the 2012 Olympic Road Race and Time Trial, an event she finished seventh in at the the 2011 World Championships, followed by silver at the Pan American championship – all in her first year focused on cycling.
Kristine Bryniolfson of the local Trek Red Truck Racing team rounded out the podium in third place.
For Cartmill, who was racing National Team projects three years ago before a nearly two-year absence from cycling, it was an important victory.
“I’ve only ever won a race once,” said Cartmill, riding for Ottawa-based Stevens Racing presented by The Cyclery. “A lot of second and third, but I have a hard time hitting the top step of the podium. It’s really exciting to be up there.”
Cartmill has never been to B.C. before, let alone BC Superweek, and while she has ridden hillclimbs before, they were generally longer and less steep. And she certainly never saw one that required the top-five racers to go up again.
“Everybody was going for sixth place – that was the consensus,” she said. “The second time I went to the bottom and had to ask a couple other people – what do you recommend I do from now until an hour from now? Their advice was to spin around and stay warm but not doing anything really intense.”
So Cartmill, who came to BC Superweek on the advice of team manager Jenny Trew, who used to live in Vancouver and compete for Trek Red Truck, texted a teammate back home, stayed loose, and took a big step up.
“[Trew] suggested it would be a great series of racing with a strong field and really good experience,” she said. “Just a slight step up because I feel that’s the range of racing that I missed. I’ve done some really, really hard races sort of above my level, and a lot of local races that aren’t as challenging.”
BC Superweek and the Tour de White Rock continue Saturday with the Choices Market Criterium, and wraps up with the Peace Arch Road Race on Sunday.
Top 10 Women Results
1. Carrie Cartmill (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery)
2. Rhae-Christie Shaw (Exergy TWENTY12)
3. Kristine Brynjolfson (Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes)
4. Shoshauna Laxson (Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes)
5. Morgan Cabot (Glotman Simpson Cycling)
6. Jean Ann Berkenpas (Local Ride/Dr. Vie Superfoods)
7. Megan Rathwell (Russ Hay’s/Accent Inns)
8. Joanie Caron (Colavita-espnW Pro Cycling)
9. Erin Redl (Glotman Simpson Cycling)
10. Nicky Wangsgard (Primal/MapMyRide p/b BH Bicycles)
Top 10 Men Results
1. Florenz Knauer (Team Baier Lanshut)
2. Jacob Schwingboth (Glotman Simpson Cycling)
3. Louis Crosby (PureBlack Racing)
4. Anton Varabei (Jet Fuel Coffee/La Bicicletta)
5. Will Routley (Spider Tech)
6. Noah Bloom (Garneau Evolution)
7. Colter Young (Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes)
8. Dave Stephens (Garneau Evolution)
9. Manuel Fehlmann (independent)
10. Craig Richey (Oak Bay Bikes – Raleigh)