Finding the way to victory

Gebhard tops younger riders in main event

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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When Brad Gebhard zipped by the finish line just inches in front of Steven Beardsley, an onlooker smiled in disbelief and shouted “the old guy beat the young guy!”

That’s one way to put it. More specific phrasing would be: The oldest guy beat everyone.

At the age of 47, Gebhard was the eldest participant in the Vancouver Courthouse Criterium’s main event Sunday. On a figure-8 road course that led riders around downtown Vancouver, he narrowly outsprinted the other cyclists in the 60-minute Oregon Cup race and wowed those forced to stare at his backside down the home stretch.

“That guy is pretty amazing,” said Paul Bourcier, who finished five spots behind Gebhard. “When things got chaotic, he just goes nuts. He just finds his way.”

Gebhard is a self-proclaimed sprinter who said he spent the first half of the race just trying to stay near the top. He cited luck as a component that aided his victory and that he chose correctly when opting to draft behind Beardsley during the final push.

Asked if there was ever a point where he felt he had the race won, Gebhard, who received $80 for the victory, responded, “No, not even when I crossed the line.”

Asked if he thought he had a chance to win before the race began, Gebhard answered. “Yeah. I wouldn’t have driven down here if I didn’t think I could win.”

He’s from Portland.

Bourcier may have placed sixth in the main event, but he pulled away from the pack to win the men’s 40-and-over race.

The Eugene resident also won a series of “primes,” meaning he crossed the start/finish line first on designated laps in which the leader is awarded cash. Bourcier said that he was trying to conserve energy during the 40-plus event in order to stay with the leaders for the main event, and didn’t expect to come out with the victory.

“I didn’t think I was going to hold,” said Bourcier, 43. “So that worked out well.”

Things worked out well for Emily Charbonneau as well. The Portland resident got a boost from her Sorella Forte teammates to take first in the women’s main event, but also got some help from an unexpected source.

With about eight laps to go, Charbonneau’s former teammate and good friend Norrene Godfrey asked Charbonneau how badly she wanted to win.

“Kinda bad,” Charbonneau said.

So Godfrey raced out to the front, let Charbonneau draft off her and eventually boosted her to the win.

“I had a secret teammate out there,” Charbonneau said.

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or email matt.calkins@columbian.com