Posted by Editor on 05/19/07
Canada Cup XC #2 - Bromont, Quebec
First photos from Elite and Junior Expert categories can be found Here.
Team Rocky Mountain-Haywood's World Cup pros Max Plaxton and Marie-Helene Premont dominated the cross-country today at the second round of the Canada Cup in Bromont, Quebec. Both riders rode away from their respective fields to win. Premont leads the Canada Cup standings for women with a perfect win record, while another Rocky Mountain-Haywood rider - Raphael Gagne - takes over the men's lead from Neal Kindree (Kona) after finishing third.
The Bromont circuit is one of the oldest and most respected of the international circuit, with a tradition stretching back to the world championships in 1992. While there have been modifications over the years, the basic design is still one that tests all the skills and endurance of a mountain biker. Plaxton summed it up: "This is the best course by far that I've raced this year. It's a lot of fun, with good climbs, technical stuff, rocks ... I always like to race here."
The men did 6 laps and the women 5, with both categories on the course at the same time. Gagne bolted to the front on the first climb for the men, followed by Plaxton. Plaxton was biding his time, and went by at the top of the second (main) climb as the race went into singletrack. After that he gradually extended his lead to eventually win by 3:33 over Mat Toulouse (Maxxis).
"Last year, I started to push right away from the gun." explained Plaxton. "It's not exactly boring to be out there alone, but it is nice to back it off a bit and see how others are riding."
"Raphael started well, so I got on his wheel to the top of the climb and then went to the front. But he was still going pretty good - he was definitely pushing me on the downhill. I was taking it a little easy on the downhill because I crashed there yesterday (Friday) and it numbed my hand a bit ... there's some pretty important races coming up."
Gagne was riding steadily in second, but Toulouse put on a big push in the third lap to reel him in, and then dropped him in the fourth. "I can start fast, and this course suits me" commented Gagne, "But Mat was faster in the last two laps. I was mainly happy to keep the gap low until the end and take over the Canada Cup lead."
Toulouse has had a bit of a frustrating start to his season, with sickness and flat races, but it certainly came together today, as he seemed to get stronger through the race. Toulouse is one of many riders still chasing the required 20 UCI points to be able to start the Canadian rounds of the World Cup next month, and he admitted that it was on his mind today (when he easily met that goal).
"I was expecting to have the points by now, so I'm certainly glad to have that taken care of. I don't know if I could have challenged Max today, but I had good enough fitness to get the job done. I knew that my (fitness) was there, because I was feeling good (at Norba #2), so I knew that I was capable, that I have the fitness."
"Today I had a very poor start position; I can't remember the last time I started that far back in a Canada Cup. But, I had no UCI points and no Canada Cup points, was it was to be expected."
"This race starts with a couple of good climbs though, so I knew that with a reasonable effort I could move up towards the front. I caught Raphael on lap four; I think he was fading a bit. We rode together for a while, but the gap to Max was going up, so I decided to turn it up and he couldn't follow. After that, I just wanted to keep it clean to the end."
Behind the first three there was a three-way battle for the final two podium spots between Canada Cup leader Neal Kindree (Kona), Kris Sneddon (Kona) and Derek Zandstra (3 Rox Racing). Sneddon and Kindree were racing steadily in the fourth and fifth positions for the first two-thirds of the race, but Zandstra was moving up steadily, first picking off a fading Kindree, and then Sneddon. In fact, Zandstra came within five seconds of snagging third place from Gagne.
In the women's race, Premont was already 30 seconds ahead by the end of the first climb, with the chase group led by Trek-Terrascape team mates Mical Dyck and Lea Davison. At the end of the lap the gap was over a minute, but it then stalled at about 90 seconds for the next few laps, as the chasers began to spread out. However, in the final lap and half, Premont's strength began to show, as she pulled away to win by three and a half minutes over Catharine Pendrel (Norco).
Premont's biggest problem turned out to be the men she was catching - over half the men's field, despite their starting two minutes ahead. "By the third lap I was catching lots of men and I had to slow down for them in the singletrack. It was also more slippery in the woods then I thought it would be, and I had on my dry tires, which maybe was not the best choice. But the other thing was that the field was much stronger than last week (at Baie St Paul)."
Pendrel moved into the number two spot by the third lap, but only after having to work her way back up from sixth, after she went off course on the first lap.
"On my pre-ride on Thursday, the course went up a different bit of the climb, and I didn't ride it yesterday (Friday), so I didn't realize that it had changed. It wasn't marked off, so I went straight up and then realized that nobody else was following me - 'Oh no!' But, I was able to catch everyone by the feed zone climb, and then settle into my rhythm."
"After that everything went smooth. I felt after the last Norba race that I was coming into form, and this is definitely a good confidence booster for Europe (Offenburg World Cup) next week."
Behind Pendrel, Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing), Dyck, Davison and Emily Batty (Team R.A.C.E.) were all battling within a minute and a half of each other for the final podium spots. Davison crashed out heavily on lap four, seeking medical attention for a gash in her knee as she crossed the line. Sin, having one of the rides of her life, dropped Dyck late in the fourth lap to take third, with Dyck holding on for fourth and Batty filling out the final podium spot.
- Plaxton was one of a number of riders who is using this race as a final tune up for the offenburg (Germany) World Cup next weekend. "This is a great confidence builder for next weekend. I've been doing long motorpacing with (coach) Houshang, so my legs are feeling good. And I'm going in more prepared than Belgium (when he lost a day in travel due to a delayed flight)."
Catharine Pendrel said the same thing, as she gets ready to attempt her first ever European World Cup: "I've never done a European World Cup, so I'm expecting to probably start around 120th. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a better position for Switzerland (Champery, June 9-10)." Why? I wanted a new challenge, to get some experience and, who knows for 2008..."
- the Junior Expert women's and men's races were taken by Andreanne Pichette (Opus/OGC) and Francis Morin (Devinci) respectively, who also lead their categories in the Canada Cup standings after two events.
- The big name missing on the line was American pro Jeremiah Bishop (Trek-VW), who was a no-show.
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