Posted by Editoress on 06/20/05
Canadian National Downhill Championship Mont Ste Anne, Quebec
There were new faces on the top step of the podium at the Canadian Downhill Nationals on Sunday in Mont Ste Anne, Quebec. Adrienne Miller (Mountain City Cycle) took the women's title and Tyler Morland (SRAM-Cove Bikes) the men's, after the favourites all came up short.
The weather had been cold and wet in the week leading up to the championships, but that changed the morning of the race, going to bright sun and the mid-20s (Celcius). This began drying the course out, although in the woods it was still very muddy.
National Downhill coach Chris Colbeck commented that the 1.9 kilometre course offered a good mix of technical and pedalling sections, and predicted that to do well would require fitness, and riders wouldn't be able to get by on just technical ability.
There were only 8 women in the field, led by Danika Schroeter (Giant) and Claire Buchar (Merlanduo-Be One). Former champion Michelle Dumaresque (John Henrys) passed on the Nationals to race the Norba in Utah. Schroeter was fastest in the women's seeding run at 3:52.47, followed by Adrienne Miller (Mountain City Cycle) at 6.97 seconds and Buchar at 18.54 seconds.
In the men's field there were 60 riders, with defending champion Mathieu Laurin (Devinci-Daredevil) sporting the number one plate. Other top contenders included Eric Goss (Giant) and 2003 champion Mike Jones (Norco). Geoff Pendrel (Devinci-Daredevil) with the fastest run (3:16.27) in qualifying, followed by Goss at 1.48 seconds and Luke Kitzanuk (Giant) at 3.39 seconds. Defending champion Mathieu Laurin flatted in his run, and had to start approximately halfway through the field.
The final run saw most of the top contenders push it a little too hard. Schroeter came into the first wooded section too hot and went down three times in the space of 100 metres, losing precious seconds. Miller also went down in almost the same spot, but then forced herself back off slightly.
"I had no idea what to expect here, the racing in BC is completely different, much tighter courses. I crashed at the top of the course, and then I just mentally said to myself 'I cannot fall off my bike again.' "
Miller kept her promise, and finished 4.24 seconds in front of Schroeter, with Brook Baker (Norco) third. Miller, who works "6 days a week, 11 hours a day" in the forestry industry on Vancouver Island near Courtney, is back racing after most of last year off with a broken wrist.
"I expected Danika to win" she admitted. "I knew that I had the potential to win, after a good ride at (Canada Cup) Bromont a few weeks ago, but I've never raced anything like this before. The course was so wide, BC is all tight single track. I found it difficult to pick a clear line."
Tyler Morland doesn't race much on the Canada Cup circuit, or attend Nationals often, but he has shown that he can be very fast, finishing second to no less than Cedric Gracia last year at the Crankworks invitational event in his home town of Whistler.
"I've had pretty good results the last couple of years, but I haven't raced at Nationals. I had an absolutely horrific seeding run - I was late for my start, and just mentally wasn't focussed. So, for the Final I just tried to concentrate more. I went a little conservative, because I didn't want to crash in the wood sections where it was so muddy."
Morland also went with a "dry" tire, when most were picking mud tires. "I knew it would be faster in the pedally sections, and so I just took it easier in the muddy bits, since a crash would slow me down a lot more."
- Both Miller and Morland confirmed that the cross-country riding they do made a big difference, as Chris Colbeck had predicted. "Kiara (Bisaro, also of Courtney) is a huge inspiration for me." revealed Miller. Morland put his fitness down to the Whistler culture: "Whistler is amazing to ride; all aspects - cross-country and downhill. I don't race cross-country, but I'm riding it all the time."
- With the loss of funding to send the Downhill champion to the Worlds, it is uncertain at this point as to whether either of the new champions will attend in Livigno, Italy at the end of August. Miller, for one, hopes to be there. "I'll figure out a way to go, I hope. I'll get a credit card if I have too!"
On a related note, we have heard some rumours that efforts are being made to find sponsorship to fund the national champions. We hope this comes to pass.
- Other news and rumours:
Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) will be racing Road Nationals, and hopes to make the Worlds team (both Mountain and Road), with a view to possibly competing in both at the Commonwealth Games next March.
There is a strong possibility that the CCA will resurrect and award a National Criterium Champion jersey in Kamloops this year. Of course, it will not be an "official" championship, since the UCI does not recognize the event, but will be recognized in Canada (and the U.S., where the jersey has been awarded for years).
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