July 15/03 1:51 am - Whistler Joyride BikerCross
Posted by Editoress on 07/15/03
Whistler Joyride BikerCross Fun Times
Courtesy Mitchell Peters
The Whistler Joyride BikerCross returned again to the racing calendar, and this year the professional turnout was grand. Coming off a World Cup weekend in Vancouver, the international caliber of the men and women's field was abundant.
The pro men's winner of the day, Cedric Gracia from France, compared the course and the crowds to the World Cup that happened this past weekend. "The courseâˆ‘there's way more passing, more people, a lot more people watching the course, it was good."
Scott Beaumont also compared the two courses. "Grouse was really tight, really short. It was twenty-four seconds for the fastest guys. This course is actually double the length. The difference that that makes to a racetrack is that people aren't just diving into the first turn, you have a bit more time to calculate a pass and work something out. Whereas at Grouse, they were diving into the first turnâˆ‘and whatever the positions were out of the first turn, they held onto that for the finish. This track, through the night, provided a lot of passing and lots of action for the spectators."
The men's pro field contained the likes of Steve Peat, Cedric Gracia, Scott Beaumont, Greg Minnaar, Chris Kovarik, the Houseman Brothers, and local riders Richie Schley, Corey Derpak, Thomas Vanderham, and Tyler Clarke. The women's field of fourteen riders only included four local girls, the rest were international riders on the pro circuit.
The nature of this event provides a fun, relaxed environment for the riders to compete in, even the name of the event, "Joyride BikerCross" focuses in on the fun side of biking. Most riders got rid of their race jitters throughout the past World Cup weekend, leaving nothing but pure competitive spirit to remain for the day's event.
Great Britain's Tracy Moseley commented on the relaxed environment of the Joyride BikerCross. "I'm tired. The last three months we've been racing every weekend. Here, it's still racing, but it's kinda fun. It's not really so serious. It's not part of the (World Cup) series."
The racing got started mid-afternoon around three with the qualifying runs. The event saw more than one hundred riders show up to test their skills on the Whistler track. The finals didn't get started until six yesterday, with four categories for the riders, including pro men, pro women, junior and amateur men.
It had been raining all day on and off in Whistler, and although the riders started without rain, it returned for the finals. In the pro men's field, Chris Kovarik qualified first. He continued that winning streak through to the semi-finals where he was paired up with Gracia, Greg Minnaar, and American Chris O'Driscoll. In this round Gracia came out on top, Minnaar hot on his tail.
In other rounds, Scott Beaumont went through with recent World Cup winner Mike King to compete in their semi-final against Bas De Bever and Steve Peat. The seasoned pros put on a good show, with King winning that round and riding through with Beaumont.
Beaumont reflected on his runs through the night. "I had a lot of difficulties tonight. My gates are really slow. The first race I won no problem, the second race I tried to go too early and I hit the gates, I was dead last. Just picked the third place and second place guys off, one at a time, lost the second, and transferred to the semi-final. In the semi-final, missed the gate again, was last going into the first turn, made a really aggressive move into the first turn, was in second, took the lead two thirds of the way down the course, made another aggressive move. My passing tonight was really on form."
Beaumont's difficulties with the start gate continued right into the final where he missed it again. "In the final, everyone is fast! I missed the gate again, I was last, and just kinda got stuck in fourth. I felt really fast, felt good."
Gracia pulled through for the win, outsprinting Minnaar and King. Minnaar grabbed second, leaving King with third place. Gracia was in good spirits after the race, "I'm happy, especially after the night we had last night, it's great."
The women's race saw some spirited competition, especially coming from American Jill Kinter (Fox Shox), new to the mountain bike side of racing, coming from a BMX background. Kinter not only qualified first, she went on to win each round right into the finals.
In the final, her only competition came from Sabrina Jonnier of France, who led the race into the first couple of turns. "I made a mistake on the second turn. I couldn't control my bike, Jill came by me on the inside, and after, you can't pass. Impossible. I'm mad (with myself!)"
Moseley was third, followed by Australia's Tai Lee Muxlow in fourth.
Today's events include the Air DH that takes riders down the A-line course in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
Official results to follow.