2017 MTB XCO Na­tion­als

13 Cham­pi­ons Crowned

Pedal Magazine - - Uci Mtb World Cup 2017 - BY JACK CRACKER

Fans were treated to su­perb rac­ing on July 22-23 at the 2017 Cana­dian MTB XCO Cham­pi­onships p/b Lexus Canada at Al­berta’s Can­more Nordic Cen­tre. The Elite races fea­tured nail-bit­ing sprint fin­ishes that high­lighted the 13 ti­tles awarded.

Emily Batty (ON, Trek Fac­tory XC) de­fended her women’s ti­tle against peren­nial ri­val Catharine Pen­drel (BC, Clif Pro Team) in a neck-and-neck race to the fin­ish. Then U23 rider Peter Dis­era

(ON, Norco Fac­tory) claimed his first Elite men’s ti­tle in a riv­et­ing race against for­mer cham­pion Raphael Gagné (QC, Can­non­dale-3 RUo2x3),an­wd­hEol it ce rM aesnh’ se ad nd nW ea or mt eh ne’ se ch nadm.p ions

events, the spec­tac­u­lar Can­more venue fea­tures the stun­ning Kananaskis Coun­try moun­tains as a back­drop lead­ing into Banff Na­tional Park. The up­graded cir­cuit was short­ened from 6.8km to 4km, re­flect­ing the change to shorter cour­ses at the World Cup and World Cham­pi­onship level.


The six-lap Elite women’s race saw Pen­drel drilling it from the start with Batty on her wheel, while Ha­ley Smith (Norco Fac­tory) led as one of three chasers that in­cluded Maghalie Ro­chette (QC, Clif Pro Team) and San­dra Wal­ter (BC, Liv Cy­cling Canada).

The two vet­eran World Cup rac­ers were in a league of their own, quickly gain­ing 30 sec­onds on the chasers, keep­ing the pace high un­til the end with Pen­drel at the front. Be­hind them, Smith es­caped from her ri­vals to ride most of the race alone.

Fans were stoked to see another Pen­drel-Batty show­down, but this time Batty would not get dropped near the end. In­stead, she at­tacked the for­mer world cham­pion with half a lap re­main­ing to solidly de­fend her ti­tle, as Pen­drel could not re­spond.

“It was not an easy race by any means,” agreed Batty. “I rode my hard­tail and I was ques­tion­ing a lit­tle bit whether that was the right choice be­cause it is such a tech­ni­cal, bumpy course, but it was rock­et­ing up the climbs. Catharine didn’t make it easy; the two of us set a re­ally high pace right from the start. I found through the course of the race that I was feel­ing re­ally good. I knew I was go­ing to put an ef­fort in on one of the climbs at some point, and I chose a spot where I felt strong and punched it.”


The Elite men’s start line was stacked with plenty of con­tenders, in­clud­ing for­mer cham­pi­ons and up­starts such as Dis­era, who was granted per­mis­sion to race in the Elite cat­e­gory in­stead of the U23 men. De­fend­ing cham­pion Derek Zand­stra (ON, Can­non­dale-3 Rox) was an un­likely re­peat as he and his wife had re­cently cel­e­brated the birth of their first child.

Dis­era, who earned his first U23 World Cup podium this sea­son, at­tacked on the open­ing climb, with only Léan­dre Bouchard able to re­spond. Raphael Gagné and Evan McNeely (ON, For­ward Rac­ing-Norco) soon bridged with vet­eran Ge­off Kabush (BC, Scott-Maxxis), Evan Guthrie (BC, Race Face/Pivot-OTE/Kal

Tire) and An­drew L’Esper­ance (NS, For­ward Rac­ing-Norco) tak­ing up the chase.

Dis­era and Gagné es­tab­lished a pace the oth­ers could not match as the two bat­tled un­til the end be­fore Gagné fal­tered on one of the fi­nal de­scents and suf­fered a hard crash. Dis­era pow­ered ahead to solo in and claim his first Elite men’s Na­tional ti­tle.

“My de­ci­sion to race up stemmed from UCI points,” ex­plained Dis­era. “A top-five [in Elite] would earn more points then win­ning the Un­der-23 ti­tle. We de­cided as a team that I could mix it up with the Elites. I was a bit of a wild card be­cause none of them had re­ally raced me, so I just took the bull by the horns and gave ‘er from the go.

“I felt re­ally good, and Dre [Bouchard] went with me. Com­ing into the sec­ond lap, Raph [Gagné] came out of nowhere, so there were three of us. Go­ing into the last three laps, I started throw­ing down at­tacks, and Dre just fell off the back. I felt good and wanted to dic­tate the pace so I stayed at the front. I knew Raph was go­ing to at­tack and I was able to fol­low and then get to the front be­fore the de­scent. Un­for­tu­nately, he had a lit­tle mishap, but I was ready for a sprint.”


Jennifer Jack­son (AWI Rac­ing) of Oro-Me­donte, Ont. won the women’s Un­der-23 jersey, while Sean Fin­cham (For­ward Rac­ingNorco) of Squamish, B.C. claimed the Un­der-23 men’s crown again. Jack­son is a no­table cross-coun­try skier and landed her first ti­tle with stel­lar rid­ing, while Fin­cham de­fended his jersey as the strong­est U23 rider in the men’s field.

Rox­anne Ver­mette (Équipe du Québec) of St-Fer­rol-les-Neiges, Que. won the ju­nior women’s ti­tle, with Charles-An­toine St-Onge (Équipe du Québec) of St-De­nis-de-Bromp­ton, Que. tak­ing home the ju­nior men’s Maple Leaf jersey.


In the Team Re­lay on Day Two, Norco Fac­tory Team won the ti­tle de­ci­sively, fin­ish­ing al­most two min­utes ahead of Team Que­bec, with Pivot Cy­cle-OTE fin­ish­ing third. Norco had a team stacked with Cham­pi­onship-medal win­ners and was the favourite. Un­der-23 bronze medal­ist Quin­ton Dis­era went first, fol­lowed by ju­nior sil­ver medal­ist Gun­nar Holm­gren, then Elite women’s bronze medal­ist Smith, and fi­nally Elite men’s cham­pion Peter Dis­era. The team took the lead in the open­ing lap and was never chal­lenged.


Amy Woodward-Kennedy (AB, Cy­clemeis­ters/Bow Cy­cle) won the Mas­ters 30-39 women’s ti­tle, while Shawna Don­ald­son (AB, Syn­ergy Rac­ing) won the Mas­ters 40+ women’s jersey. In the Mas­ters 30-39 men’s race, it was Dy­lan Bai­ley (BC) claim­ing the ti­tle, with Ryan Pan­nell (BC, Fresh Air Con­cept/Red Devils) win­ning the Mas­ters 40-49 men’s com­pe­ti­tion and Don Larsen (BC, Spoke Bike and Ski) tak­ing the Mas­ters 50+ men’s ti­tle.

men’s and women’s cham­pi­ons (l-r): Sean Fin­cham, Emily Batty, Dis­era and Jennifer Jack­son

(l-r): Brody San­der­son, Rox­ane Ver­mette, Ju­lianne Sar­razin and Charles-An­toine St-Onge

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