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Canada MTB Cup XC #1 – Preview

by Sandra Walter

May 15, 2010 (Baie-Saint-Paul, QC) – The Canada Cup 2010 season kicks off tomorrow in Baie-Saint-Paul, QC with XC #1 on a revamped 5km course on the outskirts of town. The loop is twisty, rooty and primarily dry, despite a rain shower overnight. It doesn’t have any sustained climbs, but contains many short power ascents. There are over 500 racers registered for the Quebec Cup/Canada Cup event, which shows that mountain biking is alive and well in la belle province.

The elites and juniors take off at noon. The elite women will do five laps with the heavy favourite being multiple National and World Cup Champion Marie-Hélène Prémont (QC) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain. For Prémont, Baie-Saint-Paul is just a short drive from her hometown of Chateau Richer. Other Quebec contenders include Marie-Claude Surprenant (QC) Xprezo-Borsao, Karine Travaillaud (QC) Cycles des Monts, and Caroline Villeneuve (QC) Norco Factory. Jean Ann McKirdy (BC, Local Ride Elite Women’s MTB and team mate Sandra Walter (BC) Local Ride Elite Women’s MTB pack a strong west coast punch, while Mikaela Kofman (ON) 3 Rox Racing and Catherine Vipond (ON) Norco Factory will represent Ontario. “My new carbon hardtail and XX fork feel great on the rough course,” said Vipond.

The junior women’s race will be led by 2009 National Champ Laura Bietola (3 Rox Racing). Kristina Laforge (QC) Cyclone d’Alma and Andreanne Lanthier-Nadeau (QC) Rocky Mountain Factory will head up the Quebec contingent.

Raphaël Gagné (QC) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain will get a lot of cheers from the spectators and he has a strong chance at victory in what is a very deep elite men’s field. These fast men will likely do six or seven laps. Max Plaxton (BC) Specialized/Sho-Air is on the start list, but there have been no sightings of him at the venue. The roster is packed with North American talent, including Kris Sneddon (BC) Kona, Andrew Watson (ON) Norco Factory, Stefan Widmer (BC) Rocky Mountain Factory, Benjamin Sontag (USA) Cannondale, Troy Wells (USA) Clif Bar, Matt Hadley (NB) Xprezo-Borsao, Peter Glassford (ON) Trek Canada, Eric Batty (ON) Trek Toronto, Adam Snyder (USA) Jamis, and Adam Morka (ON) Trek Canada.

“The course is true mountain biking. It’s a good thing it’s not going to rain, ‘cause it would be nasty with all the fresh organic mud on top. I think it will probably favour a punchy rider,” said Hadley.

Zach Hughes (ON) Norco Factory, Cody Canning (AB) Team Alberta, and Francis Morin (QC) Specialized will duke it out in the U23 men’s field.

Mitchell Bailey (Team Ontario) and Evan McNeely (ON) EMD-Serano-Specialized have been battling in the early Ontario Cups this season, and are expected to push the pace tomorrow.

Pedal will have live updates from the Elite-Junior MTB race at 12 noon EST.

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