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History made at the 50th Anniversary of the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix

Californian Kendall Ryan makes history at the 50th anniversary of the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix. Ryan became the first cyclist in the event’s history to win it four times. Photo by Scott Robarts


Vancouver, B.C. – Thousands of fans crowded the streets of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood for the first time in four years as the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix returned in a big way to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

After pandemic-related postponements paused the last three editions of Canada’s most famous criterium, the raucous crowd was privy to a history-making race by 30-year-old Kendall Ryan out of Ventura, California.

Ryan became the first cyclist in the event’s history to win it four times. She was victorious in 2017, 2018, and 2019, joining Verna Buhler as the only two women to take the Gastown title in three consecutive years. Ryan, Buhler, and Gina Grain were the only three women to win the race three times overall. Verna After this year’s finish, Ryan stands alone in the record books.

“Man, this is such a cool race. This is probably my favorite race of all time. The energy, the whole lap is just unmatched,” beamed Ryan post-race after completing the 30-lap, 43-kilometre loop in one hour, four minutes, and 41.4 seconds. “It’s really special to be back here, and to win it four times with Gina Grain right there in attendance — it just couldn’t be better.”

Ryan’s L39ION of Los Angeles team was one of the biggest in a field that also included two-time Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix winner and three-time Canadian national time trial champion Leah Kirchmann (Denver Disrupters), and 2023 Paris-Roubaix winner and current Canadian road cycling national champion Alison Jackson (EF Education – Tibco – SVB).

Ryan noted that her team did a lot of work on the course to support her historic victory and the $12,000 prize money that goes with it. “They were attacking the field, trying to wink at everyone else out there just so I could have a shot at the sprint again. For them to sacrifice everything and bring a huge lead out train and bring all the energy was just fantastic.”

Jackson, a product of Vermillion, Alberta, finished second, just four-tenths of a second behind Ryan. It’s the best result she’s had at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix after finishing seventh in 2015.

In third place was Ivanie Blondin riding for Manteo Cycling, who proved she is just as fast on two wheels as she is on ice skates. The 33-year-old from Ottawa was an Olympic gold medalist for Canada in speed skating team pursuit at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. She then added a silver medal in the mass start.

Prior to her third-place finish in Gastown, Blondin was second at the RMCC Road Festival criterium in Canmore, Alberta last month.


In 2016, Victoria, B.C.’s Riley Pickrell was atop the podium at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix in what was a thrilling moment for the youngster. He was the winner of the event’s youth race that year as a 15-year-old in what ended up being a preview of what thousands of fans saw on Wednesday night.

Pickrell, riding for Israel Premier Tech Academy, sprinted ahead of the peloton on the final lap of the race to find himself in the exact same spot he was seven years ago, but this time, he had a $12,000 cheque in his hands as the winner of the 50th anniversary of the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix.

As one of the largest teams on the starting line, L39ION of Los Angeles was noticeable in its attack in the second half of the race, with their black and white kits leading out in a big way. It’s something that wasn’t lost on Pickrell and the other riders in the field.

“L39ION trains took it up with 12 laps to go. I’ve heard about the L39ION train for years, never had the opportunity to race them and it’s impressive what they can do to control a crit. I’ve never seen that before and L39ION rider Justin Williams let the wheel go just in the chicane, I think he was hoping that I wouldn’t notice and then they could go 1-2-3,” explained Pickrell, who was last year’s Under-23 Giro d’Italia Stage 4 winner. “Of course, I’ve watched L39ION race before so I knew that they have used this tactic. So as soon as I saw that gap open, I went around.”


Winning the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix Youth Race in 2016 and now the Men’s Elite 1/2 in 2023 caused the 21-year-old Pickrell to reflect on his journey to this point. “Years ago, I came over from Vancouver Island with Triple Shot Cycling Club from Victoria. I came over and raced that youth race and had so much help along the way. Just each step, one at a time,” he said.

“Global Relay was there for me when I went from junior to U23 and there’s just so many people I can thank as I went up the ladder,” added Pickrell, who represented Canada at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Next year, Pickrell will turn pro with the Israel-Premier Tech team, making the move from the Premier Tech Academy. He noted that despite victories like the one in Gastown, there’s much more he can take from the sport of cycling. “I think I have a long way to go and a lot to learn. Hopefully, you’ll see a bit more of me in the next handful of years,” he smiled.

The L39GION of Los Angeles team occupied second and third spot on the podium with Cory Lewis Williams of L.A. in second and Athens, Georgia product Tyler Magner coming in third. For Magner, it is a familiar spot as he also finished in third place in Gastown back in 2017.

Pickrell ended up completing the 42-lap, 60-kilometre circuit in one hour, 20 minutes, and 33.9 seconds, half a second ahead of Lewis Williams. Magner finished just a hair behind his L39ION of Los Angeles teammate.

View Full Race Results

SOURCE: Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix


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