Posted by Editor on 07/12/99
Canada Cup Cross Country #4 - Canmore Alberta, July 11, 1999
by Greg Flaaten
Quote of the weekend: "They weren't nakedÃ¢Ë†â€˜they were wearing shoes!" Unidentified RCMP Officer at the Canada Cup #4 Nude Crit.
Last week at the World Cup race in Canmore, Alberta, the ski wax thermometer at the Canmore Nordic Centre Day Lodge recommended a soft red ski wax. This weekend it pointed to SPF 30 sunscreen as clear skies and near perfect conditions greeted riders and spectators for the Canada Cup #4 Cross Country event hosted by Calgary's The Bike Shop.
In the men's field, all of Canada's top riders turned out to race on the challenging 9km Canmore Canada Cup course. The day opened with 1.5 kilometers of steep and technical climbing led by the Quebec trio of George Visser (QC Xenacom), Eric Tourville (QC Oryx), and Louis-Francois Guimont (QC Trek/Volkswagon). Behind them was the current Who's Who of men's Canadian mountain bike racing including, in order, Roland Green (BC GT Bicycles), Andreas Hestler (BC RLX Polo Sport), Ryder Hesjedal (BC Gary Fisher/Saab), Peter Wedge (NB Mapei/Kona), Julian Hine (ON Schwinn/Toyota), Chris Sheppard (BC Catera/Klein DKNY Festina) and Chad Miles (BC OGC Gary Fisher).
It didn't take long for veterans Green, Sheppard, Wedge and Hestler, along with the speedy Hesjedal, to overtake the early leaders and establish dominance on the field. Half way into the second lap, Green and Sheppard were positioned comfortably in front with Wedge only 10 seconds behind. Hestler and Hesjedal trailed 55 seconds back on Wedge and the bulk of this year's Canada Cup contenders, George Visser, Mathieu Toulouse (QC Ford/Devinci), Chris Blanchard (AB Tatonka) and Eric Tourville jostled for position well behind the leaders with Australian Craig Gordon (Sintesi) to round out the top ten.
Into the third of five laps, Green and Sheppard continued to dominate the race as they worked together 35 seconds ahead of Wedge. Hestler, who was on the move, was forced to withdraw in the second lap after folding a wheel in a lower technical section known as the Coal Chutes which left Hesjdal riding solo about a half minute down on Wedge and two and a half minutes ahead of Visser, Gordon and Tourville.
"We were working together well," noted Green of his cruise with Sheppard, until the fourth lap when a turn of bad luck for Green saw him go down in the Coal Chutes. "A little mistake" turned into a whole lot of trouble when Green remounted and discovered that his drivetrain "was not working so well."
"I gapped Roland going into the Chutes on the fourth lap," explained Sheppard. When he heard Green go down behind him, he "punched into the Georgtown Climb," a long and grueling climb that takes riders back up toward the Canmore stadium. By the time Green regained his momentum, Sheppard had established a gap going into the last lap that could not be overcome. Nearly a lap later, Green was down a minute and 15 seconds and would finish one minute, six seconds behind Sheppard who stayed on the gas for the rest of the race and seems to have benefited from a week of training in Kamloops.
The versatile Wedge, top Canadian at last week's Canmore Diesel World Cup, seemed pleased with today's third place finish and was "psyched" with the presence of the UCI boys who could not affect his position as overall leader of the Canada Cup series. The race fans were "psyched" too and it was a treat to see the exceptional talent that turned out today. Thanks from all of us!
Notable rides include: Chad Miles who worked his way through the pack to finish 6th after starting well back. George Visser, 25 seconds behind Miles. Chris Blanchard, Mathieu Toulouse and Marc Sonntag (BC Kona Factory) who round out the top ten.
In the women's race, Melanie McQuaid (BC Rocky Mountain Bicycles) led current Canada Cup points leader Marie-Helen Premont (QC Oryx) through the demanding initial climb with a small gap over Melanie Dorion (QC Ford Devinci). In tow were Sylvie Allen (BC Giant/Fanatic), Trish Sinclair (Marin Bicycles), Linda Robichaud (BC Ford/Devinci) and upstart Amber Chorney (BC Gary Fisher/Saab OGC Oakley).
McQuaid and Dorion worked together to establish a 20 second lead over Amber Chorney and Trish Sinclair by the mid second lap. Premont rode solo another twenty seconds back, forty seconds ahead of a chase group consisting of Christine Platt (BC Rocky Mountain Bicycles/Chevy Trucks), Sadie Parker, Eron Chorney (Gary Fisher OGC Cycle Path) Ã¢Ë†â€˜yes they're sistersÃ¢Ë†â€˜ Wendy Simms (BC Trek/Schwalbe) and Claire Townsend (BC Rocky Mountain Bicycles/Chevy Trucks).
Into the third of four laps, McQuaid had fallen back to 5th position, another victim of mechanical difficulties courtesy of the treacherous Coal Chutes. She would later abandon the race. Meanwhile, Premont had worked her way up to join Dorion out front and the two let off some steam as they charged away from the rest of the field. Chorney and Sinclair stayed within sight of each other for much of the third lap with Chorney chasing the leaders 30 seconds back at the mid point and Sinclair another 15 seconds behind her.
At the end of the day, Premont had solidified her hold on first place in the Canada Cup points race with a 45 second victory over Dorion. "I let the girls go," noted Premont as she explained her drop from second position to 5th in the second lap. "I saw them slowing every lap and I feel very strong in the hills." Clearly, she is very strong and has the confidence and ability to chase down and overcome the likes of Dorion, Chorney and Sinclair.
Premont would like to win the Canada Cup points series but her lead is not insurmountable. Melanie McQuaid would like that title as well and she notes that "I still have a chance for the Canada Cup overall but I need to be on fire." With two events left in the series, and the National Championships after that, we'll have to wait to see the final outcome.
Final note on the weekend: excellent course, excellent organization by Kevin McNaughton and The Bike Shop crewÃ¢Ë†â€˜check Ã…â€™em out at www.thebikeshop.com
say thanks at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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