Posted by Editoress on 07/17/10
The Canadian National Mountain Bike Championships saw Canada's top international riders defend their titles on Sunday, as they gear up for the world championships to be held at Mont Ste Anne, Quebec on Labour Day weekend. Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna) won the men's and women's elite cross-country titles under perfect weather conditions amid the beauty of the Rocky Mountains at the 1988 Olympic nordic skiing centre. Emily Batty (Trek World Racing repeated as the women's Under-23 champion, while unheralded Jared Stafford (Team Ontario/Bikesports) took the men's title.
Pendrel's primary competition, Marie-Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain)), pulled out of the competition less than 48 hours before the start with bronchitis, making Pendrel the overwhelming favourite. The current leader of the World Cup did not disappoint, pulling away from the rest of the field on the first seven kilometre lap of the four lap race to win by an impressive five minute margin over Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing). Mical Dyck (Trek/Terrascape) finished third, nearly seven minutes back.
After Pendrel rode away from the field, and Sin took possession of second place, the race became a matter of seeing how far up the Elite field Batty would move, after starting 45 seconds back. In the end, she would catch all but Pendrel and Sin. Mikaela Kofman (Team Ontario/3 Rox Racing) finished second in U23, and was the fifth rider across the finish line, another impressive ride.
I'm really pleased to keep the national champion's jersey," commented Pendrel. "I went out there to push myself hard as I prepare for the next World Cup races and the world championships. Overall, I'm happy with how I rode today, and how my form is right now. National Championships are always important. To wear your National Champ jersey is a source of pride. I want to do it; I want to see our jersey out there. It's a special race for everyone, no matter what level you are at."
Kabush, going for his eighth national title (seventh senior title), did not have as easy a time of it as Pendrel, with Max Plaxton (Team Sho-Air/Specialized) finishing only 48 seconds back, and Derek Zandstra (3 Rox Racing) at 1:39. The trio rode away from the rest of the men's field on the first lap of the five lap event, and stayed together until late in the fourth lap, when Kabush attacked. He quickly opened a 20 second gap on Plaxton, who dropped Zandstra in the chase, and steadily extended his lead to the finish line.
"It wasn't an easy win," said Kabush. "Those guys are getting stronger every year, and pushing me a bit more. I waited until near the top of the steepest climb and then punched it hard, and was able to open enough of a gap to get away from them. I waited for the right moment to create some separation. I guess old school was able to beat new school for one more year."
Plaxton, who is coming off a concussion suffered a a U.S. race, tried to stay with Kabush, but didn't have the power. Never the less, he is happy with silver.
"He picked the right time to go," Plaxton explained, "and he can put in such a powerful attack that I couldn't go with him. Geoff's won of the top guys in the world, so there's no shame in being beaten by him. But I'm going to get that jersey one of these days..."
In the morning Junior races, Kristina Laforge (Equipe du Quebec/Cyclone d'Alma) finished nearly a minute in front of Lauren Rosser (Cycling BC) for the women's title, while Evan McNeely (Team Ontario/EMD Serono/Specialized) finished 58 seconds ahead of team mate Steven Noble (Team Ontario/Jetpower) in the men's race. Antoine Perreault (CVM Val-David) won the men's Under-17 (Cadet) title and Amanda Wakeling (Cycling BC) the women's.
Overall, British Columbia and Ontario each took three titles, with Quebec taking the other two.
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