Posted by Editoress on 07/29/12
TR3 and TR7 begin with Time Trial
Stage 1 (July 28th): Fernie to Fernie Time Trial, 32 km, 1400 m climbing
The 2012 TransRockies Challenge kicked off year 11 under glorious blue skies, warm temperatures and crisp clean mountain air. Stage 1 featured the start of two separate events under the TransRockies Challenge banner: the TR3, 3 days of Fernie solo riding, and the TR7 teams.
The Fernie to Fernie time trial tackles 32km and 1400m climbing over classic Fernie trails including Hyperventilation, Sidewinder, and Coal Discovery Trail. At 68%, stage 1 boasts the highest percentage of single track riding during the TransRockies. Two time Canadian National Champion Neal Kindree was first to line up and set off at 9:00am to test the trail. As the competitors made their way through the starting chute, and the leaders began to finish, it quickly became evident that this would be a day of dominant performances.
Kindree set the tone for the TR3 Open Men contingent, crushing the course with a blistering 1:47:50, a robust 5:42 ahead of Chris Sheppard and a full minute ahead of last year’s winner Max Plaxton. The Open Womens story was much the same with Mical Dyck over taking her next closest competitor, Krista Turcasso, by 10 minutes plus. With temperatures starting to climb, these early riders were happy to be out on the trail ahead of the pack.
On the Open Men’s TR7 side the Planet Foods/ Honeystinger contingent of Jon Firth and Stefan Widmer continued the theme of domination with a substantial gap of 6:22 over Greg Day and Colin Kerr of team Rocky Mountain. Firth and Widmer clocked in at a stellar 2:02:35. Firth has been on a tear at TransRockies Events this year with a victory at The North Face Rundle’s Revenge and king of the mountains crowning at Gran Fondo Highwood Pass.
TR7 Open Women’s team Jean Ann Berkenpas and Sandra Walter, of Xprezo-Borsao Factory Team, crushed the competition by a margin of 28:01 crossing the line in 2:22:15. Wendy Simms and husband Normon Thibault, 2010 podium finishers, took the stage victory in Mixed Open. As Normon and Wendy were hitting the trails the Saturday issue of the Globe and Mail was hitting the streets with a stellar profile of the couple.
The tightest battle of the day came in the Men’s 80+ with Geoff Clark & Devin Erfle ending their day a mere 21 seconds ahead of past TR7 champion Pat Doyle and partner Craig Bartlett. Marco and Eva Carrer, straight from Switzerland and back for their 2nd crack at the TR7, rolled in for a stage victory in the 80+ Mixed. TR7 veterans, and past champions, Stan Magee and John Gould wrapped up 1st in the 100+ Open with a strong 2:21:06.
Overall reception of the route seemed positive as riders got what they expected: challenging, twisty, Fernie single track with some beautiful climbs and fun descents. Quote of the day goes to Jon from North Carolina: ‘I fell all over that damn mountain. It was excellent!’ That about sums it up! Next up: Fernie to Fernie Alpine Resort.
Stage 2: Fernie to Fernie Alpine Resort, 30 km, 1700 m climbing
Day Two at the 2012 TransRockies Challenge was a carbon copy of the first with neverending blue skies and warm temperatures. Riders were keen for a mass start and ready to traverse the 30km and 1700 metres of climbing from downtown Fernie to Fernie Alpine Resort. The course designers worked hard to create a stage that challenged the riders with climbs and rewarded them with spectacular descents. The feedback at the finish line seemed to indicate that the TransRockies Crew was successful in their quest. As one racer put it, 'Yesterday I worked as hard on the down hills as the up hills. Today I could just relax and enjoy the ride down'.
Early on it was evident the adrenaline was pumping as the leaders jockeyed for position on the singletrack. As riders pushed the pace several were claimed by the course, sustaining injuries that would lead to an unexpected end to the day. Ultimately, the lead group made quick work of the route and, once again, TR3 leader Neal Kindree claimed the stage win to retain his overall Open Men's lead. On this day, Kindree paired up with fellow Specialized rider Evan McNeely and worked together to conquer the climbs. Alternating the lead allowed these two to save valuable energy resulting in a tandem finish, and times of 2:06:41 and 2:06:45 respectively, in the plaza at Fernie Alpine Resort.
The status in the Ladies TR3 remained unchanged as Mical Dyck took her second stage win and widened her overall lead to a whopping 14 minutes and 42 seconds. Ian Auld, TR3 40+ leader, was able to hold off Jeff Neilson and managed to increase his lead in the overall with a victory under the 'Legendary Fernie' arch.
The storyline for the TR7 wasn't quite so cut and dry. While 3 of the 5 category leaders remained unchanged there was a shakeup in two of the standings possibly due, in part, to injury. The team of Harry Johnson and Andrew Seessel rode strong to improve on a 4th place stage one finish to take the TR7 100+ lead with a victory in 3:23:55. Pat Doyle and Craig Bartlett, 2nd in yesterday's stage by a mere 21 seconds, took top honors today and moved into the overall lead in the Men's 80+.
Open Men's leaders Jon Firth and Stefan Widmer added a second consecutive stage win on the, according to Firth, 'sweet, sweet singletrack' and lengthened their overall lead over Greg Day and Colin Kerr of Rocky Mountain Bicycles Factory Team. Normon Thibault and Wendy Simms continued to lead the Open Mixed with a stage 2 victory and displayed a touch of class stopping for an injured rider until medics were able to respond. The duo of Sandra Walter and Jean Ann Berkenpas continued their domination of the Open Women extending their overall lead to over one hour.
Tomorrow the TransRockies Challenge re-starts on the Plaza at Fernie Alpine Resort and will test the riders with 1800km of riding over 31km before descending into beautiful Island Lake Lodge.
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