Posted by Editoress on 07/24/17
The Canadian XCO Championships concluded on Sunday in Canmore, Alberta, with the Team Relay competition. The Norco Factory Team decisively won the title, finishing almost two minutes ahead of Team Quebec, with Pivot Cycle - OTE finishing third.
The Team Relay consists of four rider teams, with each rider riding one cross-country lap flat out. Each team contains an Elite Man, Under-23 Man, Junior Man and Elite Woman. Teams can send their riders off in any order, and tactics make up a large part of the race, with some teams sending their fastest riders first, hoping to hold onto the lead at the end when their slower riders go. Another tactic is to save the fastest riders until last, hoping that they can catch the other teams.
Norco had a team stacked with Championship medal winners, and was the favourite. Under-23 bronze medalist Quinton Disera went first, followed by Junior silver medalist Gunnar Holmgren, then Elite women's bronze medalist Haley Smith, and finally Elite men's champion Peter Disera. The team took the lead in the opening lap and was never challenged.
Team Quebec had an impressive ride for second, after losing their Elite man to illness before the race, requiring Under-23 rider Felix Longpre to do two laps. Team Quebec overtook Pivot Cycle - OTE on the third lap to move into second.
"It's kind of like a time trial," said Haley Smith of Norco, "and it's just 12 minutes of absolute suffering. But it is pretty special because you know you are racing for your team, for each other, and that's a unique feeling in mountain biking. I think our team has really built something as a team this year, and we really rely on each other, so it's fun to be able to reap the benefits of our tight knit team in this event."
A Challenge Team Relay was held for non-provincial or non-national registered teams. Forward Racing-Norco was extremely impressive, riding with only three riders to win. Sean Fincham, the Junior men's national champion, rode two laps, both of which were among the fastest of the day. After his second lap, he had caught all of the national championship contending teams except Norco, despite his team mate Andrew L'Esperance suffering a flat on his lap. Team Cyclone d'Alma was second after a blistering final lap from World Cup racer Leandre Bouchard, who was riding with his hometown club. AWI Racing was third.
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