July 14, 2006 (Sun Peaks Resort, B.C.) – The 2006 National Cross Country MTB Championships kick off tomorrow at Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops, B.C. All of the heavy hitters on the Canadian racing scene are here and ready to vie for this year’s red and white maple leaf jersey, including last year’s winners: Elite Men – Geoff Kabush (BC, Maxxis); Elite Women – Marie-HÃ©lÃ¨ne PrÃ©mont (QC, Rocky Mountain-Business Objects); Espoir Men – Max Plaxton (BC, Rocky Mountain-Business Objects); Espoir Women – Jean Ann McKirdy (BC, Rocky Mountain-Business Objects); Junior Men – Raphael Gagne (QC, Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) and Junior Women – Emily Batty (ON, Team R.A.C.E.).
The first championship categories to race tomorrow are the Junior Expert Men and Women at 9 a.m. PST (12 noon EST). Things may still be a bit chilly for them in the morning, as a brisk mountain breeze has been blowing steadily here for the past few days.
The Elite and Espoir Women follow at 11 a.m PST (2 p.m. EST). Organizers are saying five laps of the 5.5-kilometre course for them at this point, but this is still to be confirmed, as some minor changes have been made, such as the addition of a short technical descent and a start loop.
The Elite and Espoir Men begin at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST) with seven laps on the program at this time. The course is dry and in good condition, but there is a lot of dust being kicked up, making it hard to see on the descents. Most riders are commenting on how much climbing there is in comparison to descending. There are two long climbs, punctuated by several short, steep kickers.
The weather forecast looks good, with partial cloud and high temperatures in the low 20’s predicted. The main environmental factor will likely be the altitude as the course reaches a maximum altitude of over 1,400 metres.
Stay tuned to pedalmag.com for up-to-date reports on all of the action.