Tour de Bloom ends in Waterville

The pack leaders of the men’s masters 1-3 category finish up a close race. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

 

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

 

Every year a group of cyclists from all over the world gather in Waterville the first Sunday in May for the last of four events in the Tour de Bloom Stage Race sponsored by the Wenatchee Valley Velo Club.

Waterville’s event, held on May 6 this year, was a road race and featured either one or two laps of a 34-mile loop that runs from the NCW Fairgrounds to Highway 172 and back. Other events included a road race in Plain on Friday, a time trial on Saturday morning and a twilight criterium in historic Wenatchee on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Race director Ace Bollinger said that this year’s event set a new record for the number of participants—reaching 400. Most of these were from outside the Wenatchee Valley. There were participants from Great Britain, Germany, Costa Rica, and from all over Canada and the U.S.

“It really had a very good feel,” Bollinger said.

The race included categories for women and men. The highest level group in each is the 1/2 category, or pro, racers. There is also a 3 category, a 4/5 category, masters categories for those aged over 35 and junior categories.

As the time approached for the men’s 1/2 category racers to reach the finish line at Road 3 N.W. and Monroe Street, many who had been involved in the weekend event gathered to watch. Will Teal of Seattle was alone in front and had leisure to raise a hand in victory and acknowledgement to the crowd. Amiel Flett-Brown of Vancouver, Canada was with a pack of cyclists behind Teal, and he crossed third.

Flett-Brown said he was pretty excited about the results. He said that he participated in 2015 for the first time in a category 1/2 race. He didn’t finish that year. In 2016 he was in the top 20. Last year he came in eleventh. This year his goal was to be in the sprint, the group of cyclists at the front of the race that compete to cross the finish line first. He achieved his goal and more.

The Waterville road race is known for its windy conditions, which cyclists actually like because they add challenge to the course. Flett-Brown said that though it was not generally as windy on this year’s race day as it had been in past years, certain parts of the course did actually get quite windy.

A group of women who raced in the 1/2 category for Vancouver’s Crit Nasty team in the morning were waiting on the sidelines to see the masters finish. Claire Cameron, who took second place overall in the pro women’s division, said that she likes taking part in the Tour de Bloom event each year.

“The whole weekend is really fun,” Cameron said.

Cameron is a third grade teacher and trains 12-15 hours a week, putting in more hours in the summer when she is on vacation.

Cameron said that the weekend’s result was the best she has had in a U.S. race. Though, cycling may be widely thought of as an individual sport, cyclists are quick to point out the many team elements and the importance of working together.

Cameron said of her placing, “The only reason I did it is because I have a good team.”

Back at the NCW Fair Community hall, fair board members were busy taking lunch orders and cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers. The Velo Club had approached the board about the possibility of offering concessions, and board members decided it would be a good fundraiser to try. Most of them volunteered time in the concessions booth, which offered both breakfast and lunch. They said that they were pleased with the new fundraiser and plan to provide a concession stand again next year.

This year’s Tour de Bloom was presented by the Wenatchee Valley Brewing Company. It was sponsored by Arlberg Sports, Pro-Build, Biosports Physical Therapy, Rookard Custom Pools and Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort.

Amiel Flett-Brown, left, of Vancouver, Canada, celebrates with friends after placing third in the men’s 1/2 category. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

Claire Cameron, Joanie Caron and Jennifer Gerth of Vancouver’s Crit Nasty team enjoy waiting for the men’s master’s to finish. The women raced in the morning and placed second as a team in Tour de Bloom women’s 1/2 category. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

NCW fair board member Adam Foged flips burgers in the kitchen May 6. Friends of the Fair provided concessions for Tour de Bloom for the first time. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)