Canada MTB Cup Re­port

Sea­son-opener

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by San­dra Wal­ter

It was a very early start to the 2017 Cana­dian off-road rac­ing sea­son at Bear Moun­tain Re­sort in Vic­to­ria, B.C. in March, but most of the coun­try’s top rid­ers, along with sev­eral strong Amer­i­cans, toed the line de­spite the win­try con­di­tions, which in­cluded a fresh dust­ing of snow for the morn­ing races.

Many of Canada’s Na­tional team rid­ers were in town for the squad’s two-week train­ing camp, which made for a world-class field, head­lined on the women’s side by Olympic bronze medal­ist Catharine Pen­drel (BC, Clif Pro Team) and Emily Batty (ON, Trek Fac­tory Rac­ing), who fin­ished fourth at the Rio Olympics. U.S. cham­pion

Erin Huck (USA, Can­non­dale-3 Rox Rac­ing) was also on hand with her Cana­dian Can­non­dale-3 Rox Rac­ing crew, in­clud­ing Elite men’s Olympian Raphael Gagné (QC, Can­non­dale-3 Rox Rac­ing) and Cana­dian cham­pion Derek Zand­stra (ON, Can­non­dale-3 Rox Rac­ing). Rio Olympian Léan­dre Bouchard (QC, BH Sun­tour) com­peted as well, but was ham­pered by a hand in­jury sus­tained in a crash dur­ing train­ing.

In the Elite women’s race, it wasn’t any of these heavy favourites who led the charge off the start, but in­stead Que­bec speed­ster Cindy Mon­tam­bault (QC, Trek GPL). Mon­tam­bault surged out front in the first sin­gle­track ahead of Huck, who is known more for her climb­ing prow­ess than her tech­ni­cal savvy. With this move, the Que­becker moved out of sight on the long sec­tion of nar­row trail. Pen­drel, who was sec­ond in line be­hind Huck, cap­i­tal­ized on a mis­take by the Amer­i­can and also squeezed past, while the rest of the field re­mained in sin­gle file. Pen­drel caught up to Mon­tam­bault to as­sume the lead. Fi­nally, Batty got around Huck and started her chase in earnest, but the dam­age had been done. Batty was never able to over­come the 40-sec­ond gap on Pen­drel, but she did power to sec­ond place, while Huck hung onto third by the end of the four-lap con­test. The top U23 rider on the day was Soren Meeuwisse (ON, Trek Canada), who fin­ished 11th over­all.

The five-lap Elite men’s race also saw one rider dom­i­nate, with Gagné lead­ing the race from start to fin­ish to take the vic­tory by more than three min­utes ahead of sec­ond-place Ge­off Kabush (BC, Scott-Maxxis), fol­lowed by Zand­stra in third and Kee­gan Swen­son (USA, Can­non­dale-3 Rox Rac­ing) in fourth. Marc-An­dré Fortier (QC, Team Pivot Cy­cles-OTE) was the top U23 rider, fin­ish­ing a stel­lar fifth. It was a bit­ter­sweet day for Evan Guthrie (BC), who showed promis­ing form and was well on his way to sec­ond place be­fore a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem took him out of the run­ning and he even­tu­ally limped into sixth place.

The event at­tracted top ju­niors, as it counted as an early round of the pres­ti­gious UCI Ju­nior se­ries. The three-lap ju­nior women’s race was won by Amer­i­can Gwen­da­lyn Gib­son (USA, USA Na­tional Team), who fin­ished just ahead of Cana­dian speed­ster Sid­ney McGill (AB, Pedal­head Race Room) in sec­ond. On­tario’s Dana Gil­li­gan (ON, Team On­tario/Pro­gres­sive Sport) was third in what was some tight rac­ing.

Cana­dian top gun Gun­nar Holm­gren (ON, Team On­tario) rock­eted to vic­tory only seven sec­onds ahead of Chilean Martin Vi­dau­rre (CHI, In­finito), while Brody San­der­son (ON, Team On­tario) earned the third podium spot in the ju­nior men’s race.

The Canada Cup se­ries now takes a long break be­fore XCO #2 and DH #1 in Mont-Trem­blant, Que. on May 20-21.

Cather­ine Pen­drel took the open­ing round at Bear Moun­tain.

Raphael Gagne de­liv­ered the win for his new team in

the Elite men’s race.

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