Victoria, BC, April 1st, 2018 – The 2018 Canada Cup Mountain Bike Series opened on Saturday with wins in the Elite women and men by Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro) and Andrew L’Esperance (Forward Racing – Norco).
Held at Bear Mountain Resort, just outside Victoria, BC, the course is situated in the foothills of Mount Finlayson with breathtaking views of Victoria’s seaside harbour. Bear Mountain Resort is the national training centre for Canada’s mountain bike squad.
Pendrel, the 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medalist and defending champion at Bear Mountain, rode away from the rest of the women’s field to win by nearly one minute over Haley Smith (Norco Factory). Smith will head to Gold Coast, Australia, from Bear Mountain, to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games. American Haley Batten (Clif Pro) took third, with Canadian national champion Emily Batty (Trek Factory) in fourth. Batty will also represent Canada at Gold Coast.
“Bear Mountain treated us to some dry conditions,” said Pendrel. “I had a strong start, following Haley Smith, who led the race out. There was a pretty big group of us still at the descent, but coming to the climb I went to the front and was able to open a gap, which I held to the finish.”
In the men’s race, L’Esperance held off Commonwealth Games athlete Leandre Bouchard (KMC-Ekoi-SR Suntour) by a slim two second margin to take the victory. National champion Peter Disera (Norco Factory) finished third, despite flatting twice and having to fight his way back into the top-3.
“It was a really fast race from the beginning,” said L’Esperance, “there were no laps where we took it easy. I led out on the first lap, which was my plan; to put pressure on, on the first descent. By the second lap it was down to four of us – me, Leandre, Peter and Sean [Fincham, L’Esperance’s team mate]. Pete got off the front, but flatted, so it was just ‘Dre and I until the last lap when Pete got back up. In the last 300 metres I managed to get to the front and hold on for the win.”
In the Junior Expert categories, Mireille Larose-Gingras (Equipe du Quebec/Sigma) won the women’s race over Marianne Theberge (Equipe du Quebec/Mathieu), while Holden Jones (Cycling BC) won the men’s, a bare one second in front of Carter Woods (Dodge City Cycles/RMB/CBC).
“The race started fast, like I planned,” said Jones. “Three of us got into the singletrack together at the front. I attacked on the final climb and just managed to hold on for the finish.”