It’s only been two years since Adam de Vos first competed in the high school category of the Bastion Square Grand Prix.
Back then the UVic student was still at Oak Bay High. It was one of his first races and he wiped out, but got back on and caught the pack.
At this year’s Grand Prix de Vos not only managed to stay on his bike, he was also part of a six-man breakaway group and finished second among the elite men. It was good enough to put him on the omnium podium as the third overall elite male cyclist at this year’s Robert W. Cameron Law Series, which combines the Grand Prix with Friday’s time trial along Dallas Road and Saturday’s B.C. road championship in Metchosin.
Still 18, the win is a huge accomplishment for de Vos, who came in ahead of pro, ex-pro and junior cyclists in all categories, finishing seventh in both the time trial and road race.
“I’m still learning a lot about the (pack dynamic) and when to step back and conserve energy, but it’s always good to take the risk and be aggressive,” he said.
The men’s and women’s elite cyclists hit speeds well over the 50 kilometre per hour speed limit during the 900-metre criterium of the Bastion Grand Prix, which connects Fort, Government, yates and Wharf streets.
“There’s not a lot of big races (on the Island). This is definitely the biggest (accomplishment) of my career,” de Vos said.
Victoria-based cyclist Rob Britton and Vancouver’s Jenny Lehmann won the men’s and women’s elite omniums, respectively. Britton races for Team H&R Block while Lehmann is on the Vancouver-based Trek/Red Truck, as do Adam de Vos and Victoria’s Noe Cooper.
Britton and Lehmann ensured their spots on the omnium podium with top finishes in the Grand Prix. Britton, 27, was part of the breakaway group with de Vos, though he slipped from the top three behind Justin Kerr, de Vos and Cody Canning. Lehmann, 24, had the weekend’s most dominating effort, winning the women’s Grand Prix and Saturday’s road race, and placing fifth in the time trial.
“Coming into the Grand Prix (Trek/Red Truck) had all three omnium spots so the goal was to work together to finish one-two-three again and sweep the podium,” Lehmann said.
It almost happened, though Victoria’s Megan Rathwell snuck into second among the women’s overall.
The whole weekend was suited to Lehmann’s abilities, with less importance on the five-km time trial, her weakest event. She benefitted from the road race’s shorter climb on Liberty Road and the incline in the end of the criterium.
“The crowd here keeps you going, it’s a great race,” Lehmann said.
Adding excitement to the Grand Prix were the intermittent primes (pronounced preems), specific prizes awarded to the winners of a lap. De Vos scored two, including an expensive pair of tubeless Shimano wheels.
De Vos was in the running for one of the more coveted primes, a trunk full of beer.
“Being that he isn’t 19 yet, I’m glad he got the wheels instead,” said mom Stefanie.
Next up for the junior-aged de Vos is the Tour de Beauce in Quebec, June 12 to 17, with hopes of a second selection to Canada’s national junior team for the UCI world championships.
No break for the women
The chosen place for breakaways on the Bastion criterium was during the southbound let of Wharf street, though cyclists were often caught on the moderate incline of Fort Street which was the next leg.
“Coming into Fort was definitely the place to try and get ahead but it’s hard with such a tight women’s field,” Lehmann said.