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Canada MTB Cup XC #3 Hardwood Ski and Bike – Preview

by Sandra Walter

June 4, 2011 (Barrie, ON) – The biggest news leading up to Canada Cup MTB XC #3 at Hardwood Ski and Bike is the major alteration in course, down to 6km from its traditional long and swoopy 10km. The change comes after the announcement that the venue will host the Canadian National MTB XC Championships in 2013 and 2014. Changes in the UCI requirements for XCO events include shorter and more spectator-friendly courses, and that’s exactly what the revamped Hardwood route strives to achieve.

Despite taking a big cut in km the new course still includes rider and fan favourites, like the Boneshaker and Coffee Run descents and the BMX track run-in to the finish. It’s like the old course, only condensed, making it heavy on twisty fast singletrack and lighter on climbing and open sections. Sunday’s racers are sure to be exciting and high-paced, with spectators getting lots of opportunities to follow the action.

The weather has been dry and sunny all week, with the exception of this morning, when an intense thunderstorm hit the region and doused Hardwood Ski and Bike with buckets of rain. The course became quite greasy for pre-riding, including the Trek Store Team guided rides, featuring Emily Batty (ON) Subaru-Trek and Trek Canada team members. Locals, however, assure that the course will be dry in no time, once the skies clear this afternoon, as the terrain is very sandy and drains quickly. The precipitation was likely a blessing in disguise, as the trails were getting quite rutted out and loose due to the parched conditions. Race day forecast calls for sunshine and 23 degrees C.

Competition will be hot on Sunday, with many of the country’s top riders back from their European World Cup campaign. In the elite women’s field, Ontario natives Batty, Amanda Sin (ON) 3 Rox Racing, and U23 rider Mikaela Kofman (ON) 3 Rox Racing will join the hunt for the podium and give the current Canada MTB Cup top three riders, Jean Ann Berkenpas (BC) Xprezo-Borsao, Catherine Vipond (ON) Norco Factory Team, and Sandra Walter (BC) Xprezo-Borsao a tough time on the trails.

Third-place finisher at round #1 in Mont Tremblant, Canada Cup newbie Brandi Heistermann (BC) Team Whistler, will also be back on the start line for the 11:30 am start of the five-lap race. Andreanne Pichette (QC) Opus/OGC, who has shown impressive form this season, is the top-ranked U23 rider in the series, sitting in fourth spot.

The fight for the top podium spot will also heat up in the elite men’s competition with double winner and current Canada Cup leader Matt Hadley (NB) Xprezo-Borsao square in the sights of the strong men’s field, which will see the return of Derek Zandstra (ON) 3 Rox Racing and Andrew Watson (ON) Norco Factory Team from Europe.

Zandstra logged a couple of very impressive finishes at the World Cups and is expected to be the strong favourite in Sunday’s six-lap contest, while fellow Ontarians Adam Morka (ON), Cam Jette (ON) 3 Rox Racing, and Peter Glassford (ON) tend to do very well in the tight trees of Hardwood – and they all happen to be ranked in the top four in the Series’ standings. Leandre Bouchard (QC) Cyclone d’Alma is ranked fifth in the overall and leads the U23 category over Evan Guthrie (BC) Rocky Mountain Factory Team, who is sixth overall.

In the junior women’s ranks, Quebec riders dominate the standings: Frederique Truel (QC) Specialized Quebec leads the series with two wins in two races, while Andreanne Lanthier-Nadeau (QC) Rocky Mountain Factory Team and Catherine Fleury (QC) Cyclone d’Alma are ranked second and third. Haley Smith (ON) Angry Johnny’s, who is in fourth spot overall, leads the Ontario riders and will be looking to capitalize on home turf for a chance to move up in the series.

The junior men’s race will be ultra-competitive, with a strong Ontario squad using home dirt advantage to its maximum. Many Quebec and BC Team riders will also be on hand with several strong young athletes. Alexandre Vialle (QC) CVM Val-David currently leads the series over Ontario’s Bretton Matthews (ON) Total Sport The Bike Shop and Marc-Antoine Nadon (ON) 3 Rox Racing.

Check out these pics from today’s pre-ride, meet-and-greet, and various clinics including the Trek Store Team guided rides featuring Emily Batty (ON) Subaru-Trek.

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