Before the start of B.C. Superweek Christian Meier was saying how enjoyable it is to get a break from riding on the European pro racing circuit and be able to come home to race on familiar turf.
Sunday it got even sweeter. The 27-year-old from Langley won the Tour de White Rock road race, powering up the Columbia Street hill on the final lap to leave New Zealand's Joseph Cooper and American Ken Hanson in his wake.
Meier had hit the White Rock road race podium a couple of times in his career but until Sunday he'd never won the 130-kilometre race.
"It's fantastic," he said of a win that took three hours, 34 minutes, 26.16 seconds. "I've always really enjoyed this race. This is the race that suits me the most from all of Superweek so to win it for the first time is a fantastic feeling."
Kristine Brynjolfson, a Delta native who moved to Kamloops last year, won the 80-km women's race in 2: 31.19, beating Victoria's Megan Rathwell in a sprint to the wire.
The men's race - 11 10.1 km laps followed by five more of 3.8 km - broke apart early.
With six laps to go Meier, Cooper and Santa Barbara's Hanson, who'd won the Gastown Grand Prix and Giro di Burnaby criteriums on Wednesday and Thursday, had separated themselves from the pack.
The trio stayed together until Meier, a Sussex, N.B., native who moved to B.C. in 2006 to ride with the Sym-metrics Racing team, made his power move. He left Hanson behind early on the hill and then lost Cooper a little closer to the top.
"I just attacked them straight from the bottom of the hill," Meier said. "I attacked right on the bottom and Cooper was right with me until about half way up. Finally he cracked and I just gave it everything I had.
"To win a race multiple things come into play . . . luck and legs. Everything came together."
About the only mystery in the race was whether Langley's Svein Tuft, Meier's only Orica-GreenEDGE teammate here this week, could overcome some opening-lap bad luck and power himself back to the front.
Tuft had a mechanical problem early in the race when the lock ring that holds the gears in place came loose and pushed against the bike frame. He had to stop and get it fixed, a delay that left him almost four minutes behind the leaders.
Still, he battled his way back to finish fourth in 3: 36.04.18.
Cooper, of PureBlack Racing finished in 3: 34.54.22 and Hanson of Optum Kelly Benefit Strategies crossed in 3: 35.18.10.
"That's a first," Tuft said of this particular mechanical failure.
"There was a moment where I knew I was about four minutes down and I thought, maybe I'll pack it in for the day and just ride home," said Tuft, who won Saturday night's Tour de White Rock criterium.
"But we're here to race hard. I just put my head down and tried to keep a steady pace. I was still hurting a bit from last night's effort."
Tuft rode in a passive chase group. But the last thing he wanted to do was lead a chase and help other riders track down his teammate, Meier.
"I knew with the way Christian has been climbing that he wasn't going to have much trouble dropping those other guys on the climb," Tuft said. "I figured if I could get within range and help him that's all I was looking out to do.
"The group I was with, I kept yelling at them 'the race is up there, it's not me. I'm not going to ride you guys up to my teammate.' Everybody was waiting and looking at me. I had to wait until I could get away by myself because I wasn't going to pull any-one up to Christian.
"It's great," Tuft said of Meier's win, "because he's been knocking on the door so much. It's important to come and win in your hometown."
Par for the course, this 33-year-old White Rock compeition was a race of attrition. Of the 78 starters, only 18 finished. Of the 20 women who started, 16 finished.
Brynjolfson, of Trek Red Truck Racing and Rathwell, of Russ Hays/Accent Inns, got away from the pack midway through the 80-km race and finished in 2: 31.19. Joanie Caron of Rimouski, Que., and Colavitaespn Pro Cycling out-sprinted a four-woman chase pack to finish third in 2: 34.49.
- Terry Bell is a Vancouver Province reporter