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Canada MTB Cup Hardwood XC #3 – Preview

by Sandra Walter

May 29, 2010 (Oro-Medonte, ON) – Ontario is experiencing a heatwave this week and Hardwood Ski and Bike – venue for Canada Cup XC round #3 has not been left out. Only three weeks ago, the area was hit by a cold front complete with snow, but now it’s definitely summertime. Whether they’re ready or not, riders will face 30-degree temps and sunshine for Sunday’s races.

The elite/U23 women, elite/U23 men, junior women, and junior men all hit the 8.5km course at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. The lap is very similar to that of years past with the “outer loop” and “inner loop” format with only a few minor routing changes in some short singletrack sections. It is considered the epitome of “Ontario style” terrain, which has come to mean no major climbs, but rather rolling, twisty, tight trails that rely on quick reactions and precise cornering skills. The infamous Boneshaker downhill is still in the course, as well as a couple of big boulder rides. Conditions are incredibly dry and fast, but the sandy soil is starting to get very loose in spots.

The four-lap elite women’s race is expected to be even more competitive than the first two, with Emily Batty (ON, Trek World Team) and Amanda Sin (ON) 3 Rox Racing back from Europe and ready to let loose on home turf. Mical Dyck (AB) Trek Canada, Canada Cup leader Mikaela Kofman (ON) 3 Rox Racing, round two winner Catherine Vipond (ON) Norco Factory, Jean Ann McKirdy (BC) Local Ride Women’s MTB Team, and Sandra Walter (BC) Local Ride Women’s MTB are all expected to be vying for the top spots.

The elite men’s race will see Derek Zandstra (ON, 3 Rox Racing) return to the scene after he opted to race World Cup XC #3 in Offenburg, Germany last weekend over Canada Cup rounds one and two in Quebec. Spectators are hoping he’ll shake things up and give the currently undefeated Max Plaxton (BC) Sho-Air/Specialized a run for his money. Two-time second place finisher Andrew Watson (ON) Norco Factory team from nearby Barrie is aiming to put his home turf advantage to its ultimate use as a ticket to the top of the podium. Last year, the Trek Canada team took a huge chunk out of the podium with the help of Eric Batty (ON) Trek Canada, Adam Morka (ON) Trek Canada, and Cameron Jette (ON) La Bicicleta, all of who are signed up to start the five-lap race tomorrow. Raphael Gagne (QC) Rocky Mountain is another major podium contender, along with Matt Hadley (NB) Xprezo-Borsao, Daniel Sessford (BC) Aviawest-Blue Competition Cycles, Kris Sneddon (BC) Kona, and Benjamin Sonntag (GER) Cannondale.

Laura Bietola (ON) 3 Rox Racing and Kristina Laforge (QC) Cyclone d’Alma have one win apiece so far in the junior women’s race for the Canada Cup series overall victory, while Lauren Rosser (BC) Team BC and Valerie Meunier (QC) Cyclone d’Alma each have a second place to their name. All of the above are on tomorrow’s start list and will be eyeing up the podium in their three-lap competition.

The junior men will rock through four laps of the long, demanding course. The top three didn’t change in the first two races, with Leandre Bouchard (QC) Cyclone d’Alma winning two in a row, Mitch Bailey (ON) Team Ontario placing second in both, and Evan McNeely (ON) EMD-Serono-Specialized finishing third in rounds one and two. The question is, will someone shake up the order this weekend? Interestingly, neither Bailey nor McNeely are included on preliminary start lists, but with both being native Ontarians, it’s hard to believe they would miss out this race. Steven Noble (ON) Jetpower is a local rider, and with two top sixes to his credit this year, tomorrow just may be the day he kicks it into high gear. Another strong contender is Jeremy Martin (QC) Rocky Mountain, who has two top fives on his resume so far this season.

Quotes & Notes

“The hardest part of the course is the bark mulch at the start.” – Samantha Grover (AB) Pedalhead, U23 women

“The course is bumpy with a surprising lack of hills. Also, it’s going to be hotter than the female contingent of the Trek Store team. Gotta stay thirsty, my friends.” – Tom Skinner (BC) Aviawest-Blue Competition Cycles, elite men

“Bone shaker would be just like a fun BC trail if it was a lot longer and steeper! Fun course though – it will favour the fittest and most efficient riders. I think Sandra Walter is going to be up there.” – Steve Lund, Team BC Coach

“Don’t crash on the home stretch.” – Mical Dyck (AB) Trek Canada, elite women

“Super fun course! Dry and fast. This course will reward efficient riders who can accelerate in strategic places that increase speed and flow through the woods.” – Dan Proulx, Canadian National Team Coach

“The course and current conditions really suit me. It’s going to be hotter and a bit longer, so looking good for a big performance, especially with the calibre of competition here. Some shiny new Bontrager XXX wheels will help on the punchy course as well. Heck, I may even take off my arm warmers and get some sun!” – Peter Glassford (ON) Trek Canada, elite men

“I love to race ‘cross on mountain bikes so the race should be fun. I don’t expect lap traffic to be an issue. Zandstra’s moustache should scare the junior girls out of the way.” – Craig Richey (BC) Aviawest-Blue Competition Cycles, elite men

“Amazing atmosphere at the venue the place is electric with some nice weather for a change in Ontario. The course is great dry, sandy, slippery, fast, but not wide riser bar friendly. Dark horse pick for the win, Cameron Jette.” – Andrew Watson (ON) Norco Factory, elite men

“I don’t think dust will be much of a problem come Sunday as I plan to be off the front solo for the majority of the race. Obviously Plan A is just to giv’er but if for some reason that turns sour I’m just going to wait for Hardwood local Mitch Bailey and let him tow me around the track. Rumour has it Andrew Watson got attacked by a black bear while pre riding on Saturday.” – Cody Canning (AB) ERTC/Revolution Cycles, U23 men





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