Burke, Jackson capture RBC GranFondo wins 

Alternate knocks off Olympians for Giro title

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Grand finish Alison Jackson breaks away from the women's field on Blackcomb Way to win the giro event at the RBC GranFondo Whistler on Sept. 10.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • Grand finish Alison Jackson breaks away from the women's field on Blackcomb Way to win the giro event at the RBC GranFondo Whistler on Sept. 10.

Abbotsford's Alison Jackson powered through the pack to capture last weekend's RBC GranFondo win.

An alternate for the Canadian Olympic team at the recent Summer Games in Rio, she knocked off a strong field of women's riders in Giro on Saturday morning (Sept. 10). Jackson emerged over a tight pack of racers like Jasmin Glaesser, an Olympian who helped Canada to bronze in the team pursuit, and Joelle Numainville, the 2015 champion who was the closest competitor to Jackson, less than a second behind. Jackson emerged from a group of 15 riders all making a push for first.

"You never know when it comes down to the finish, and Joelle won it last year. I knew I had to be on form, the most rested that I could be during the day, and just sprint as hard as I possibly could," Jackson said after the race. "Any time you get a win, it's a fantastic feeling. We race a lot, bike racers, and if you get 15 per cent of your races as wins, that's a really good season. To be able to top the season off with this win is a great feeling."

Mikayla Maier took third among the women.

Jackson stressed how important it was to position herself within the pack and set herself up for the greatest chance of success.

"I was feeling good. We were coming into the 5K to go and things were staying together in a small group. (Your) chances are better when it's a bit smaller," she said. "Some of it is knowing who your competitors are and being on the right wheel and making sure you have space in these tight turns and being in that top-five kind of place."

Though Jackson said she may have been a little hasty in making her move, it paid off in the end.

"I was a bit earlier than what I wanted but I came out of the corner with a lot of speed and looked good. It was probably better because it's a downhill sort of finish so you can have a long sprint. When you're already in front like that, you have to go 110 per cent because you don't know who's coming up or how fast," she said.

As for the men, Squamish's Jack Burke had a little less company for his coronation, crossing the finish line two minutes and 24 seconds (2:24) ahead of all comers. Jesse Anthony took second and Nigel Kinney third.

Though Burke broke off from 2014 champion Kyle Buckosky around Squamish, he still never felt home and cooled until he crossed the line.

"I was a little nervous if I had enough to get through. I was running out of water, actually, so I stopped at two of the aid stations to pick up some more water," he said. "I was pretty nervous in the last 10K.

"I looked back a little bit because they told me the gap was 15 minutes at one point and I didn't really believe that. I'm not going that fast. I was looking back once in awhile to make sure there was nobody coming, but I never saw anyone."

Burke set himself up well for the race as he took on some of the world's best during the Tour of Alberta earlier this month.

"It was kind of the perfect training camp of drilling it with the World Tour guys there and then I had a week of just playing around on my mountain bike in Squamish. I have really good legs today," he said.

Being his last year of under-23 competition, Burke looked to make a big impression this season. Though the GranFondo isn't exactly what teams are looking for, he noted, having a win on his list of accomplishments won't hamstring his case.

"It's my last year to get a really big result and make it to the World Tour level. I've had a good year," he said. "It's definitely a good result and it's a lot of fun and really cool, but I'm not sure it's what World Tour teams are looking for to win a race like this. It's different criteria but it definitely doesn't hurt the resume."

Winners each took home a $15,000 prize as part of a total $50,000 purse.

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