Cairns, AUS, September 9, 2017 – Cross-country competition at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, Australia, concluded on Saturday with the final three titles awarded. Canada’s top result was by Emily Batty of Brooklin, Ontario, in seventh place in the Elite women’s competition.
Team Canada Head Coach Dan Proulx, summarized the project positively: “We had a great Worlds team this year – new energy and enthusiasm! The highlight was Holden Jones’s bronze medal! The team really impressed me with their effort level. They gave everything. Amongst our team there were several massive improvements in performance – Haley Smith, Marc Andre Fortier, Quinton Disera, Soren Meeuwisse, Andrew L’Esperance. Overall, it was a race where at least one Canadian in every category was strong and competitive. That bodes well for the future. The ones who performed best are just getting started in their careers as high performance athletes.”
Batty and Pendrel were part of the initial lead group in the Elite women’s race, which was eventually won by Jolanda Neff of Switzerland. Batty settled into seventh, which she held to the finish, although a crash on the final descent led to a sprint finish with Corina Gantenbein of Switzerland. Haley Smith continued her strong season since joining the Elite ranks, with a steady climb from the mid-30s to finish 16th. Catharine Pendrel was 27th, Sandra Walter was 30th, Cindy Montambault 37th and Rebecca Beaumont 41st.
“I don’t know what to think,” admitted Smith. “I’ve never been inside the top-20 before and to do a top-20 … I know it’s not a podium result, but it’s absolutely huge for me, so I don’t know how to process it. But I’m really happy! I had a crappy start loop and actually crashed in the first couple of laps, but I just stayed focussed and moved through people. I couldn’t have hoped for a season this good; this is a big jump for me, and I’m very happy to end the year on this note.”
Leandre Bouchard was Canada’s top performer in the Elite men’s race, finishing 24th. Andrew L’Esperance was 44th, Derek Zandstra 45th, Evan McNeely 46th and Raphael Gagne 52nd.
“I was pretty lucky on the start,” said Bouchard, “I had some space to move up and the start was really important. So I was able to move up quickly and then protect my place. I’m really happy with this race because I had almost no errors; it was the most dusty race of my life! You are just eating dust by the first lap. I did my first top-20 in the World Cup here last year, so I knew I could do well, and so I was looking for a top-25. It’s good to end the season like this.”
In the Under-23 women’s race, Soren Meeuwisse was the top Canadian, in 16th place after moving up steadily all race. Anne Julie Tremblay suffered mechanical problems on the start loop and finished 23rd.