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Canada MTB Cup XC #2 – Preview

by Sandra Walter

May 21, 2010 (Mont Tremblant, QC) – In an unusual trend of weather for Quebec’s springtime Canada MTB Cups, it has been sunny and dry at the Intrawest ski resort town of Mont Tremblant all week. The May events are traditionally wet and muddy, so the dusty course and muggy days with temperatures hitting the mid 20’s are different, but welcome. This long weekend hosts Canada Cup XC #2 on Saturday and Canada Cup DH #1 on Sunday. The XC course is very much the same route as in previous years, but boasts smoother, more manicured trails with fewer bumps and roots and a higher speed factor. Lap times should be quick considering the optimal conditions. Once again, there are over 500 riders registered for the weekend’s events. The Canada Cup championships categories (elite women, elite men, U23 women, U23 men, junior expert women, and junior expert men) take off at noon on Saturday.

The elite women are expected to complete four laps of the 6+km course, which includes two extended climbs and lots of rocky, rooty singletrack with several bridges and lots of berms. The routing through the village is slightly different, and has riders switchbacking along the Promenade Delauriers instead of the main cobbled street as in the past. The start list looks similar to last weekend, with most of the top 10 in attendance, plus the addition of a major contender, Mical Dyck (AB) Trek Canada, who sat out the Baie-St-Paul event.

Canada Cup jersey holder Mikaela Kofman (ON) 3 Rox Racing will face lots of competition on this course, which is quite different from the short, twisty, punchy nature of the Baie-St-Paul trails. Aleksandra Mooradian (POL) K.Bedford/Verge/Spin, who placed second last weekend, is on the start list, along with the Local Ride Women’s MTB Team duo of Sandra Walter (BC) and Jean Ann McKirdy, who placed third and fourth in Baie. It may be time for some of Quebec’s top ladies to shine. Both Karine Travaillaud (QC) Cycles des Monts and Caroline Villenueve (QC) Norco Factory were on the podium in Tremblant last year. The cream of the Canadian crop, such as Catharine Pendrel (BC) Luna Women’s Pro Team, Marie-Helene Premont (QC) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, and Emily Batty (ON) Trek World Team, are all racing World Cup #3 in Germany this weekend, as well as top men Geoff Kabush (BC) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain and Derek Zandstra (ON) 3 Rox Racing.

The elite men will contest five laps of the course. Contenders include last weekend’s top five: Max Plaxton (BC) Sho-Air/Specialized, Andrew Watson (ON) Norco Factory, Raphael Gagne (QC) Rocky Mountain, Benjamin Sonntag (GER) Cannondale Factory, and Daniel Sessford (BC) Aviawest-Blue Competition Cycles. Sessford’s two team mates, Craig Richey (BC) and Tom Skinner (BC) are also on hand, along with Kris Sneddon (BC) Kona, Stefan Widmer (BC) Rocky Mountain, and Matt Hadley (NB) Xprezo-Borsao. U23 men to watch include Evan Guthrie (BC) Rocky Mountain, Francis Morin (QC) Specialized, Cody Canning (AB) ERTC, and Zachary Hughes (ON) Norco Factory.

The junior expert women will compete in a three-lap race. Series leader Kristina Laforge (QC) Cyclone d’Alma gets first call-up, followed by last week’s second place rider, defending National Champ Laura Bietola (ON) 3 Rox Racing, and Valerie Meunier (QC) Cyclone d’Alma, who snagged third in Baie.

The junior expert men are slated to race four laps, with last week’s round one top finishers, Leandre Bouchard (QC) Cyclone d’Alma, Mitch Bailey (ON) Team Ontario, Evan McNeely (ON) EMD Serono Specialized, Antoine Caron (QC) CVM-Subway-Genetik, and Jeremy Martin (QC) Rocky Mountain. Team BC skipped round one, but they’re here in Tremblant and may have he ability to shake up last week’s results.

Quotes & Notes:

“The hardest part about racing Tremblant is the lack of a good bakery to buy pastries.” – Daniel Sessford (BC) Aviawest-Blue Competition Cycles

“Tomorrow I’m going to come out fast and angry; like an old man trying to return soup at a deli.” – Tom Skinner (BC) Aviawest-Blue Competition Cycles

“This is the driest I’ve ever seen Tremblant. It’s loose instead of muddy, so the course almost feels the same in places.” – Matt Hadley (NB) Xprezo-Borsao

“I’m looking forward to racing Tremblant in the dry. What a novelty! I like it how the course is so fast now too. It’s fun!” – Jean Ann McKirdy (BC) Local Ride Women’s MTB Team

Caeli Barron (AB) Synergy broke her wrist earlier this spring and is racing tomorrow with a cast. This is her first race back since her injury.

“It’s going to be hot, hydration and staying cool is going to be important.” – Craig Richey (BC) Aviawest-Blue Competition Cycles

“I’m too klutzy. All I’m going to do is crash the whole time and get flats.” – Samantha Grover (AB) Pedalhead, who flatted twice last weekend in Baie-St-Paul, and again today in pre-ride after converting to tubeless. We’re wishing her a flat- and crash- free race tomorrow.

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