It’s the little things that make a big difference in cycling races.
There’s the smooth surfaces of painted crosswalks and manhole covers on Yates Street, made brutally slick with a splash of rain. There’s the decision of when to time an escape attempt from the group.
And then there’s the weapon of choice.
Many of the elite cyclists competing in this weekend’s Robert Cameron Law Cycling Series fall into two groups: those with time trial bikes and those without.
Last year’s winner of the time trial, Rob Britton, a Victoria based pro, holds the vaunted distinction of beating Ryder Hesjedal’s time on the five-kilometre Rumble Time Trial.
But this year he’ll be without a time trial bike due to the logistics of his upcoming race season in England and Europe. TT bikes are designed specifically for shorter courses and are more aerodynamic, he said.
“I certainly want to repeat as the time trial and overall winner this weekend, but it’s going to be tough. I don’t know if I can win the time trial on my road bike, but I’ll go for it,” he said.
The TT goes Friday night on Dallas Road, the first of the series’ three events. Saturday is the Westhills Cycling Classic in Metchosin, which doubles as the B.C. Road Cycling Championships. Sunday is the series’ flagship race, the Bastion Square Grand Prix, a 900-metre criterium which connects Fort, Government, Yates and Wharf streets.
Last year Britton, who races for Team Raleigh, was first in the TT, second in the road race and fifth in the Grand Prix.
Crits aren’t generally his favourite, but Sunday’s Bastion Grand Prix is as rider friendly as they get in North America, he said.
“I raced in a crit that was 1.1 kilometres, with nine corners. It was pretty hairy, so I can’t complain about the Bastion Grand Prix, though it does have crash corner. You always have to be careful.”
Crashes have happened in many parts of the Grand Prix but the corner of Yates and Wharf is particularly dangerous. It’s also a great viewing spot for the race. Elite women start at noon, men at 1 p.m. Friday’s time trial begins at 6 p.m. with the elite men and women going at 7:25 p.m.