XCO MTB NATIONALS RETURN TO CANMORE

Canmore, AB (July 19, 2018) – The Canadian XCO Championships will return to Canmore, Alberta, on July 21-22, for the second consecutive year. The Canmore venue, site of the 1988 Olympic cross-country skiing events, remains as spectacular as ever, with a backdrop of the Kananaskis Country mountains leading into the Banff National Park.

Last year, the circuit was revised substantially from when the Championships were previously held in 2010 and 2011, reflecting the change to shorter courses at the World Cup and world championship level. The previous course measured 6.8 kilometres, while the current circuit is four kilometres in length, looping back into the main finish bowl area multiple times. For this year, organizers have made further tweaks to the course.

“We are thrilled to return to beautiful Canmore, Alberta, for the 2018 edition of our XCO Canadian Championships,” said Josh Peacock, Competition Coordinator at Cycling Canada. “Riders were treated to a world class race course in 2017, and organizers have been hard at work to add more challenging features that will be sure to test Canada’s best as they compete for the coveted maple leaf jersey. With all of Canada’s biggest names in XC anticipated to attend, we’re expecting some close battles on one of Canada’s most technically challenging XC race venues.”

The Cross-country championships for men and women will take place on Saturday, July 21st, for categories ranging from Cadet (Under-17) through Junior (Under-19), Under-23, Elite and Masters. On Sunday, July 22nd, the Team Relay event will conclude the Championships.

The Elite women’s race will see Emily Batty (Trek Factory) go for her fourth title, fresh off back-to-back podiums in World Cup competition. One of Batty’s main rivals will be missing – Olympic bronze medalist Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro Team) is recovering from an injury suffered in training. However, Haley Smith (Norco Factory) and Sandra Walter (Liv Giant) have shown that they are potential challengers for the podium, both scoring multiple top-20 results on the World Cup circuit this season.

The men’s race has a deep field of contenders, including top Canadian World Cup ranked Leandre Bouchard (KMC-Ekoi-SR Suntour), defending champion Peter Disera (Norco Factory), Rio Olympian Raphael Gagne (Silverback OMX) and Andrew L’Esperance (Forward Racing Norco).

More information: http://mtbnationalscanmore.ca/ 

EMILY BATTY THIRD AT MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD CUP #5

Vallnord, Andorra (July 16, 2018) – Canadian women continued to ride strongly at Round 5 of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra, with three athletes making it in the top-20 in the Elite race for the second weekend in a row. Emily Batty (Trek Factory) took her second podium in as many weeks, finishing third, while Haley Smith (Norco Factory) was a career-best 13th and Sandra Walter (Canadian National) 17th.

Batty was with the race leaders until a mechanical problem with her chain forced her to stop on the second lap, dropping her to sixth, 22 seconds back. The Canadian champion rode her way back to a chase group behind the two leaders, before attacking on the penultimate lap to solo in for third behind Norway’s Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa and Switzerland’s Jolanda Neff. In other Canadian results, Cindy Montambault (Canadian National) was 34th, Elyse Nieuwold (Pendrel Racing) 39th, Catherine Fleury 43rd and Rebecca Beaumont 44th.

“I had a great first lap and felt really strong,” said Batty. “I made a mistake [shifting] into one of the corners going from a downhill into an uphill, so I lost time there. I had a strong race and felt good despite the altitude; I did some training at altitude in Livigno [Italy]. I was well prepared and going for it, but that one mistake cost me a lot of time. The rest of the race was a matter of trying to make up that time, so third is pretty good for today.”

In the Elite men’s race, Leandre Bouchard (KMC-Ekoi-SR Suntour) was 34th, matching his best result of the season. Also finishing in the top-50 was Canadian champion Peter Disera (Norco Factory) in 43rd place. Raphael Gagne (Silverback OMX) finished in 61st, Andrew L’Esperance (Canadian National) 69th, and Alexandre Vialle 90th.

Canada also had top-20 results in the Under-23 category, with Team Canada riders Mackenzie Myatt and Sean Fincham both finishing 19th in the women’s and men’s races respectively.

Dan Proulx, National Mountain Bike Coach at Cycling Canada, called the weekend a success. “We’re really pleased with how Vallnord turned out. It’s a tough race and it’s at altitude. Sean and Mackenzie lead the way for the Under-23’s, both finishing 19th. Our Elite women were exceptional, with Emily riding strong to get third, Haley with a best-ever World Cup result and Sandra with a second best-ever finish. We’re pleased and will plan to do even more preparation for this event in the future.”

EMILY BATTY FINISHES SECOND AT XCO WORLD CUP

Val di Sole, Italy (July 9, 2018) – Canadian women’s XCO champion Emily Batty (Trek Factory) of Brooklin, ON, had one of the strongest rides of her career on Sunday at Round 4 of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy, finishing second, only nine seconds behind winner Maja Wloszczowska of Poland. Canada also had two other riders finish in the top-20 of the Elite women’s race – Sandra Walter (Team Canada) in 18th place and Haley Smith (Norco Factory) in 19th.

National coach Dan Proulx commented, “Emily’s ride was exceptional. She was in it to win it today, and that focus really paid off. She was strong and, as always, tactically savvy. She’s having a good season and will likely improve more as we head toward Worlds. It was great to have three riders in the top 20 in the women’s race. Emily, Sandra and Haley did a great job. That will earn us a significant number of Olympic Qualification points.”

Batty was part of the lead group for the entire race, and led the chase after Wloszczowska attacked with a lap and a half to go in the race, dropping world champion Jolanda Neff of Switzerland. The result is Batty’s second podium of the World Cup season, and moves her up to seventh from tenth in the overall standings.

Batty was both pleased and disappointed with her second place; the third time in her World Cup career that she has finished second as she still tries for her first World Cup win. “I’m not sure yet whether to be happy or really disappointed. After struggling in the early season, it’s pretty exciting to have a good result, but it’s so damn close to that win!  We get another shot in six days [Vallnord, Andorra]. Pauline [Ferrand Prevot of France] and Jolanda did a lot of work at the start and I wasn’t sure where I was at, what I was capable of, so I just tried to play it smart. There was a bit of team tactics when the gap formed and I just wasn’t able to get around [Jolanda]. I was turning myself inside out to bring Maja back and get that win, but I came up a few seconds short.”

In the Elite men’s competition, won by world champion Nino Schurter of Switzerland, Leandre Bouchard (KMC-Ekoi-SR Suntour) of Alma, QC, was the top Canadian in 55th place. In the Under-23 categories, Mackenzie Myatt (Team Canada) of Musquodoboit Harbour, NS, was the top Canadian woman, in 29th, with Sean Fincham (Team Canada) of Squamish, BC, the top man in 30th.

CANADA BRINGS 8 RIDERS TO MTB WORLD CUPS #4 & #5

Val di Sole, Italy (July 4, 2018) – Canada will be bringing a team of eight riders to Europe for a national mountain bike project at Rounds 4 and 5 of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Italy and Andorra. While a number of top Canadian pros will compete with their trade teams in Val di Sole, Italy, on July 6-8, and Vallnord, Andorra, on July 13-15, a selection of riders will also participate in Team Canada colours.

Dan Proulx, National Mountain Bike Coach, explains, “These World Cups are incredibly challenging and will test the riders’ climbing and technical skills. At this point in the season, most riders are in good form and we expect the races to be very fast. We’re bringing a good team of riders with a nice mix of developing athletes and experienced racers.”

“Val Di Sole and Andorra are great events that we really look forward to. Most of the team has just completed a tough block of training with the aim of peaking at the World Championships in September. These races are simply a step in our process. It’s low pressure for us.”

In the Elite ranks, Team Canada riders will be Andrew L’Esperance for the men, and Sandra Walter and Cindy Montambault for the women. Other Canadians racing include Emily Batty (Trek Factory) and Haley Smith (Norco Factory) in Elite women, plus Leandre Bouchard (KMC-Ekoi-SR Suntour), Peter Disera (Norco Factory) and Raphael Gagne (Silverback OMX).  Unfortunately, missing from the start line will be two-time world champion Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro Team), who is recovering from a broken arm suffered in a training accident.

The Under-23 squad is comprised of Mackenzie Myatt and Juliette Tetrault for the women, and Gunnar Holmgren, Brody Sanderson and Sean Fincham for the men.  Racing for the Norco Factory squad in U23 men will be Quinton Disera, plus three riders from Pivot Cycles-OTE – Marc-Andre Fortier, Raphael Auclair and Felix Belhumeur.

Andrew L’Esperance – Halifax, NS [Elite Men]
Sandra Walter – Coquitlam, BC [Elite Women]
Cindy Montambault – Val-David, QC [Elite Women]
Mackenzie Myatt – Musquodoboit Harbour, NS [U23 Women]
Juliette Tetrault – Val-des-Monts, QC [U23 Women]
Gunnar Holmgren – Orillia, ON [U23 Men]
Brody Sanderson – Oro Medonte, ON [U23 Men]
Sean Fincham – Squamish, BC [U23 Men]

WALTER & GUTHRIE DOMINATE CANADA CUP #6 IN WHISTLER

Whistler, BC, June 28, 2018 – After four rounds of competition in Quebec and Ontario, the 2018 Canada Cup XCO Series returned to British Columbia for Round 6, at Whistler on June 23rd. Two new faces appeared on the top step of the podium for this season, with Sandra Walter (Liv Cycling Canada) winning the Elite women’s competition, while Evan Guthrie (RaceFace/Fox/On the Edge/Kal Tire) took the men’s.

In the women’s race, Walter won by over eight and half minutes, with Elyse Nieuwold (Pendrel Racing) finishing second and Brittany Webster (Rundle Mountain CC) third. Series leader Jenn Jackson (Team Ontario/AWI Racing) continues to lead the standings with 770 points, despite missing the Whistler round, with Nieuwold jumping from ninth to second at 580 points. Haley Smith (Norco Factory), winner of Rounds 4 and 5 drops from second to third after not attending Whistler.

Guthrie also dominated his race, finishing over three minutes in front of American rider Cole Paton (Giant Factory Off-Road), with Quinn Moberg (Rocky Mountain Factory) finishing third. Felix Burke (Rocky Mountain), winner of Rounds 2 and 3, continues to lead the standings with 850 points, despite missing this round. Guthrie moves up to second from ninth with his win at 575 points, while Andrew L’Esperance (Forward Racing-Norco) drops from second to third.

“Being back in Whistler is always a highlight for anyone who rides mountain bikes,” said Guthrie. “I did my very first Canada Cup there in 2006 as a first-year Under-17 and won that race. I’ve chased that top step ever since and landed in every spot from second to seventh in the past six years racing there, so to get back on that top step was special. It was also combined with our BC Provincial Championships and that is a title I’ve only had once before. I’m proud to have that title for the next years. Can’t miss highlighting the fact that Sandra Walter and I got to cross the line hand-in-hand celebrating our victories together. Thanks to the event crew for hosting another great event!”

In the Junior men’s race, Carter Woods (Dodge City Cycles/RMB/CBC) won his second Canada Cup of the season. Holden Jones (Pendrel Racing), also a two-time winner, finished second, with American rider Scott Funston (Team USA) taking third.  Woods moves into the Series lead, tied at 370 points with Jones, since each has two wins and two second place results, with Woods taking the Leader’s Jersey by virtue of the more recent victory.  Former leader Tyler Clark (Team Ontario), missing the event while he attended the Global Relay Canadian Road Championships p/b Quebecor, drops to third at 295 points.

With only one Junior woman attending Whistler – Laurence Levesque (Equipe du Quebec) – the women’s standings are unchanged, as Marianne Théberge (Équipe du Québec : Mathieu Performance) continues to lead the standings with 355 points, followed by Mireille Larose-Gingras (Equipe du Quebec/Sigma) at 290 and Canadian champion Roxanne Vermette (CC Mont Sainte-Anne) at 285 points.

Emily Johnston (Trek BC Devo) won her third event of the Series in the Under-17 women’s category, followed by Ana Large (Red Devils Cycling Academy) and Carolyn Shaw (Red Devils Cycling Academy). Juliette Larose-Gingras (Velo Cartel X BL Coaching) remains in the overall lead of the Series with 355 points, although Johnston moves up to second from fifth and is now only 29 points back.

Jakob Yells (River City CC), the winner of Round 1, took his second win of the Series in Whistler, followed by Xavier Roy (Equipe du Quebec / XTRM Amos) and Cody Scott (Cannondale p/b Fortius). Yells jumps from third to first in the standings with 355 points, tied with former leader Owen Clark (Homestead Racing), who did not attend.

The Canada Cup XCO Series now takes a hiatus until August 5th, when the final round will take place in Kentville, Nova Scotia.