June 19, 2005 (Mont Ste-Anne, Que.) – It was the day of the underdog today at the National Downhill MTB Championships. Virtually all the race favourites crashed, giving those nipping at their heels a chance to shine. So it was Tyler Morland (BC, Cove Bikes-SRAM), Adrienne Miller (BC, Mountain City Cycle) Steve Chan (BC, Independent) and Micayla Gatto (BC, Team BC-Rocky Mountain) who grabbed the gold National Champion’s medals in the Elite Men’s, Women’s and Junior Men’s, Women’s categories, respectively.
The 1.9-kilometre course was muddy from days of rain all week, but sunny skies on race day immediately started drying up sections of the course. Racers still commented on the difficulty of the route brought on by the weather and wear and tear, and it was the rough conditions that caused a lot of crashes. There were still enough holes and mud hanging around to make things sketchy.
Morland, who lives in Whistler, B.C., won his first National Champion title. “I felt pretty good on the course,” he said casually. He liked the course, saying it had a little bit of everything wide open fast sections as well as technical bits. He commented that he is a fan of pedaling sections that require fitness.
Quebec’s Louis-Philippe Leonard (QC, Equipe du Quebec) finished second, less than two seconds back from Morland. Justin Brown (ON, Norco) was third.
Last year’s National Champion, Mathieu Laurin (QC, Devinci-Daredevil) “just had a bad run,” saying he got bucked around and almost lost his pants. It was a bad day for several of Canada’s top racers. Another favourite, 2004 Canada Cup Champion Geoff Pendrel (BC, Devinci-Daredevil) crashed three times. “Once you crash, your brain gets scattered,” he said, adding that it was hard to get back on track once he was off his bike. Mike Jones (BC, Norco) and Eric Goss (NB, Giant) were also among the casualties.
Crashes were abundant in the women’s races as well. Even the winner, Miller, went down (ripping her shorts in the process), but claimed the ticket to her fast pace was that she was “riding scared.” She was so afraid of coming last that she placed first, she explained, looking thrilled to be wearing her brand new National Champion’s jersey.
Danika Schroeter (BC, Giant), who is currently leading the Canada Cup Series, was one of the race favourites. She placed second after a crash she claimed would have been entertaining to witness. “I just wish there was a camera,” she said with a laugh, adding that her second place finish was “bittersweet.” Brook Baker (BC, Norco) put in a third-place run with a time of 4:03.16.
It was British Columbian Steve Chan (BC, Independent) who took home the junior men’s National Champion’s title and jersey, after throwing down a clean run. “I’m pretty stoked about it,” he said of his win. His strategy was to go into the race on the conservative side to ensure a crash-free run.
Andrew Mitchell (BC, Cove Bikes), who won the first two Canada Cup races in the junior men’s category, was the one to beat until he crashed twice during his run. Mitchell placed second behind Chan. Samuel Lagrange (QC, Virago Racing) put in a third-place performance.
1. Tyler Morland (BC, Cove Bikes-SRAM) 03:08:61
2. Louis-Philippe Leonard (QC, Equipe du Quebec) at 01.90
3. Justin Brown (ON, Norco) 04.01
4. Peter McLean (ON, Devinci-Sweet Pete’s) 04.55
5. Adam Billinghurst (BC, Cove Bikes-SRAM) 05.55
6. Eric Goss (NB, Giant) 05.68
7. Nick Dignard (QC, Demers DH) 08.09
8. Mathieu Laurin (QC, Devinci-Daredevil) 08.99
9. Philippe Menard (QC, Devinci-Daredevil) 09.48
10. Derek Chambers (BC, NRG-Pinkbike.com) 11.24
1. Adrienne Miller (BC, Mountain City Cycle) 03:48.06
2. Danika Schroeter (BC, Giant) at 04.24
3. Brook Baker (BC, Norco) 15.10
4. Katrina Strand (BC, Rocky Mountain-Oakley) 30.68
5. Sheila Morris (ON, Kreater Custom Motor) 33.26
6. Caroline Milot (QC, Equipe du Quebec) 38.48
7. Claire Buchar (BC, Merlanduo-BeOne) 55.09
8. Mylene-Kim Fortier (QC, Independent) 1:16.72
Junior Expert Men
1. Steve Chan (BC, Independent) 03:17.39
2. Andrew Mitchell (BC, Team BC) at 02.84
3. Samuel Lagrange (QC, Virago Racing) 03.27
4. Kyle Ritchie (BC, Oakley-Kona-NRG) 04.90
5. Guillaume Soucy-Alarie (QC, Privateer Racing) 05.59
Junior Expert Women
1. Micayla Gatto (BC, Team BC-Rocky Mountain) 04:07.90
2. Marie-Pier Alix (QC, Spin Sport Inc.) at 01:50.06