American sprinters won the day at the fifth Giro di Burnaby criterium bike race at the Heights on Thursday.
Ken Hanson of California, winner of the Gastown Grand Prix just the night before, came out of the pack on the final lap of the 55-kilometre race, scorching the 1.3km loop along East Hastings with the fastest lap of the night.
Hanson's winning 1:39-minute lap was a credit to his Optum Kelly Benefit Strategies teammates, he said.
"The team rode great. This win goes to the team," Hanson said at the finish. "They protected me from the wind and set me up for the win. I didn't need to spend as much time chasing down the leaders."
In the women's race, 47-year-old Laura Van Gilder of the U.S. outsprinted Australian Loren Rowney to win the 37km race in Burnaby in a first-place time of one hour and 25.73 seconds.
The two women also finished one-two in the Gastown Grand Prix with Van Gilder placing runner-up on a borrowed bike to Rowney on the cobblestones of downtown Vancouver. Van Gilder also placed fourth at the UBC Grand Prix.
Van Gilder, the U.S. national criterium champion in 2000, was an 11th-hour entry into the Giro after learning about Superweek races on Facebook.
"Typically I like multi-day races, so to race this is a bonus," said Van Gilder, who has more than 380 career wins.
"I came here to Burnaby to get a win and after duling it out, I'm very pleased with my result."
Van Gilder was among a three-bike breakaway, along with Rowney and B.C. category 2 rider Jean Ann Berkenpas, that separated themselves from the pack early in the 30-lap race.
Berkenpas, who held on for the $500 third-place money, kept pace with the eventual winners until the 23rd lap.
Van Gilder beat the rookie Australian pro to the finish line by more than a second and take the women's $1,200 purse and the commemorative gold medallion worth an estimated $1,300 provided by sponsor Palladio Jewellers.
"I'm already planning my return here," said Van Gilder, who fully expects to be racing when she turns 50. "I'm looking forward to the future and to the next four years. I like the thrill of competition, the tactical aspect of racing. I don't see myself retiring."
Hanson, who had an unmemorable finish in his first appearance at the Giro four years ago, outsprinted Australians Tommy Nankervis and 2006 Giro winner Hilton Clark to the finish in a winning time of one hour 19 minutes and 48.08 seconds.
"We knew this was good racing and with the return of the Gastown race, it was a good enticement," said Hanson, who took home the $2,000 winners's share and a gold medal from Palladio Jewellers.
"My team suffered for me today. They did a lot of the work," Hanson added.
Ryan Anderson, who now rides in Europe for Steve Bauer's Team Spidertech, was the fastest Canadian finishing in fourth place.
The men's race was aggressively influenced by the New Zealand PureBlack Racing team.
National champion James Williamson led an 11-bike break early in the race until Kiwi teammate Joseph Cooper took over, splitting up the leaders midway through the race and pressing on alone.
But with four individual race primes and less than 10 laps to go, Cooper was finished and the main pack gobbled up the remainder of the leaders.
That led to a wild final 10km, with race primes offered for four of the last five laps, including a $1,000 crowd prime taken by German Florenz Knauer of Team Baier Lanshut on the pentultimate lap.
But in the end, it was Hanson who emerged out of the pack and showed the finish to take the win. "When I played soccer I was a striker. It's the same thing," he said.