May 22, 2009 (Mont Tremblant, QC) – This Saturday will see trends unfold in the race for the Canada Cup XC titles, while the gravity series kicks off on Sunday at Mont Tremblant, Quebec. The Canada Cup is often defined by the ageless XC and DH courses, that hug the slopes of one of Eastern Canada’s biggest downhill ski resorts – rugged, rocky, rooty, twisty, and nearly always muddy.
The 6km XC course has not deviated from the past several years, aside from some very conscientious grooming, that will result in a smoother, faster lap for the racers. The addition of gravel in many sections has reduced the notorious bumps and mud of the lap, but despite the manicuring and the dry, warm weather so far this week, there are still enough bumps and muddy spots to go around on the 6km loop.
So far, there are 553 XC riders pre-registered for the event – nearly 100 more than last weekend in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec. The Canada Cup Championship categories take off at noon on Saturday. The elite women will do five laps, led by U23 World Cup star and Canada Cup leader’s jersey wearer, Emily Batty (ON) Trek Store Toronto, last week’s runner-up, Amanda Sin (ON) 3 Rox Racing, young up-and-comer Catherine Vipond (ON) Norco Factory, Jean Ann McKirdy (BC) Local Ride Women’s MTB, and Sandra Walter (BC) Local Ride Women’s MTB. U23 hopefuls Mikaela Kofman (ON) 3 Rox Racing and Bianca Adolf (BC) Local Ride Women’s MTB will both be making their Canada Cup season debuts this weekend after achieving some very strong early season results.
The elite men’s pack has nearly 70 registrants so far in what looks to be a very competitive field for the six-lap race. In addition to the Canada Cup #1 podium, starring winner Derek Zandstra (ON) 3 Rox Racing, Andrew Watson (ON) Norco Factory Team, Julien Fillion (QC) Devinc, Matt Hadley (NB) Xprezo, and LÃ©ni Trudel (QC) Independent, RaphaÃ«l GagnÃ© (QC) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, Stefan Widmer (BC) Rocky Mountain Factory, and Troy Wells (USA) Clif Bar will likely duke it out for the top spots.
The Junior ranks have also become more competitive than last weekend with the arrival of Team BC. The westernmost province’s young riders have a well-deserved reputation for riding fast, especially the men. Evan Guthrie (BC) Team BC, Tyler Allison (BC) Team BC, Sebastian Sleep (BC) Team BC are expected to be battling for the top spots over the five-lap race, along with last week’s winner, Mitch Bailey (ON) Team Ontario. Other riders to watch include Nicolas Tremblay (QC) Independent, Andrew l’Esperance (QC) Cyclesmith, Leandre Bouchard (QC) Cyclone d’Alma, and Patrick Chartrand (QC) CVM Val David.
The Junior Women will complete three laps, with Canada Cup #1 champion Lauren Bietola (ON) 3 Rox Racing getting first call-up on race day. Kristina Laforge (QC) Cyclone D’Alma, Cayley Brooks (ON) Team Ontario, Marjorie Lavoie (QC) CVM Val David), and ValÃ©rie Meunier (QC) Cyclone D’Alma are also expected to vie for the podium.
The Canada Cup gravity season will blast off this weekend, with finals taking place on Sunday, headlined by 2008 Canada Cup elite men’s DH champ Andrew Mitchell (BC) Devinci. Lots of Canada’s top downhillers will also be tearing up the mountainside, including Yann Gauvin (QC), Hans Lambert (QC) Norco Factory, Justin Brown (ON), Simon Garstin (BC) Lama Cycles, and Charles-Alexandre DubÃ© (QC) Xprezo.
The elite women’s field will be headed by young gun Anne Laplante (QC) Xprezo, accompanied by veterans MylÃ¨ne Kim Fortier (QC) FH Racing, Caroline Milot (QC) Independent, and Claudia Paquin (QC) Independent.