Neal Kindree defended his home turf during Stage 6 of the B.C. Bike Race (BCBR) on Friday (July 6).
Heading into the stage with a slim five-second lead over Oregon's Barry Wicks, Kindree powered through the 48.02-kilometre Squamish leg, finished the day with a lead of almost four minutes on second-place Chris Sheppard, last year's BCBR Elite Solo Men's winner. Wicks experienced mechanical issues on Friday and fell to third place, more than 15 minutes behind Kindree.
The race wraps up with Stage 7 on Saturday (July 7) in Whistler.
“It's really special to win in Squamish,” Kindree said at the finish line. “I've played a patient game all week and watched these guys to see their strengths and weaknesses. I'm really happy to win here.”
Kindree won the stage with a time of two hours, 26 minutes, 52 seconds, beating out Sheppard by nine seconds. Cory Wallace from Alberta placed third in the stage. Kindree was running neck and neck with Sheppard all morning but managed to pull away at the Smoke Bluffs.
“At the end of Perth Drive, Chris was driving really hard and that was where we dropped Barry,” he said. “But to be honest, I was having a little trouble keeping up with Chris early on. I was able to break away just after the Smoke Bluffs and I gained some time on Barry, which is good for me.”
The Squamish rider's lead on Sheppard is three minutes, 52 seconds heading into the final stage.
“I'm feeling good right now heading into Whistler but it's not done 'til it's done,” he added.
Sheppard said he's been impressed with Kindree's week of riding.
“He's been riding really strong and you could tell he was being conservative earlier in the week,” he said. “It was on me to attack today and I tried as hard as I could to make up some ground. We traded the lead off back and forth but he really pushed it near the end. Neal is definitely in the driver's seat for tomorrow.”
Wendy Simms of Nanaimo continued her dominance in the Elite Solo Women's division, winning the Squamish stage with an unofficial time of 3:11:00. Heading into Day 6, Simms had a two-plus-hour lead over second-place rider Melinda Jackson and added to her lead on Friday.
“Usually I'm pretty tired by the end of the week but right now I'm feeling great,” she said. “I'm looking forward to getting to Whistler but I'm still going to be riding cautious because you never know what can happen.”
Thomas Turner and Jason Sager won the Open Men's team division to maintain their lead in the group.
Check the print edition of The Chief for more on the B.C. Bike Race.