Crankworx – EWS & Canada Cup Finals

Right after Mint-Sainte-Anne I was flying out of QC City at 5:30 AM on the Monday. Home for 1.5 days before heading over to Whistler to prep for the sixth round of the Enduro World Series. With three big days of practice on the mountain, in the bike park and around the valley, it was go time.

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Sunday morning we set out for an 80 km day with 5,000 meters of descending. Essentially, it was a dream for a mountain biker. The course was tough both physically and technically that had a great mix of everything for all the riders. It was my first Enduro race of the year and definitely not my last!

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A smooth and steady day brought me some top-25 stages and a 32nd overall. Just a little bit slow first and last stage unfortunately. I was satisfied with this result as I had only ridden my trail bike three times before coming to Whistler. Hoping to make some bigger gains before the next races.

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The day after the Canada Cup I came down with a bit of a cold. Pair that with some allergies and it turned into a bit of a savouring week on the fitness and resting side. That Enduro stuff is harder than you think! Come race day for XC I was ready to go but clearly lacked that zip I needed to be in the fight up front.

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This Canada Cup is one I’ve really wanted to win and this year was no different so getting 4th was not in the plans. I made the best of the day because it was not a very good one early on. Being back in 8th didn’t look too promising but I latched on with Geoff Kabush and we slowly picked out way through the field. Eventually with a lap and half to go his pace was too much and his final attack sealed the deal in dropping me. I was being chased by teammate Petey so it was still a fight to the line.

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That locked up third overall in the Canada Cup Series for me and also gave me the overall BC Cup series title! Something I haven’t had since I was a U17. Very cool to go back to those days.

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It was a special week in Whistler staying with the Vezina and Wallace families. Trips are always better when you’re surrounded by great people.

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My mom and gramma also made it out to this race. It’s not often my parents or gramma gets to make it out, so this one was a special one.

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Pinkbike report

Mont-Sainte-Anne: The legend

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Recovery coffee rides with Sandra Walter Catharine Pendrel.

MSA is a legendary course and the most memorable venue on the circuit. It’s the only venue to hold a World Cup and World Championship since the inception of the events. This marked my 7th appearance in 8 years. The only one missed was the World Championships in 2010 when I was out with mono.

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XC laps with our DH teammate Sam Blenkinsop 

This course is my favourite in the world, hands down. It holds some of my most significant race memories and best results I’ve ever achieved. This year was no different; I achieved my best-ever world cup finish in Elite Men. Improving by only 1 position from my previous best, which was also in MSA two years ago.

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Team tent set up with Havy giving our bikes some love.

Leading into this race I had my sights set high. Ten positions better is where I wanted to be. After the first lap I moved from 58th to 27th and fought in the top-30 for 4 laps. Eventually fading and loosing four positions in the final 1/4 lap. Not disappointed because I left it all out there. It was great to finally see what it’s like to fight in 20’s. HUGE motivation with that being that last big XC race of the year.

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One of the “features” on course – a steep rock roll with steps.

The team rode strong. Peter threw down a 14th in the under-23 men while flying the new National Champion kit. Haley battled out there and finished 36th, while Mcneely also battled to a 50th. Lespy had a very unfortunate flat very far from the tech zone while him and I were riding together. It was gutting to hear that hissing behind me while we were moving forward. It’s incredibly motivating to have my buddy racing with me so it could have been even better if him and I stayed together and pushed forward.

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Our team was exceptional over the weekend. The boys make it fun for us and keep up rollin’ along.

It was back home for one and half days before making the trip up to Whistler for two weeks where I am dabbling in all disciplines and racing Enduro, DH and the XC Canada Cup finals. More info to come.

Look at what the fans: https://vimeo.com/174401050

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Below Photos: Jonathan Duncan

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St Felicien Canada Cup Recap

On Saturday July 23rd the 5th round of Cycling Canada’s national series – The Canada Cup – took place in St Felicien (St Fe), Quebec. St Fe has hosted multiple National Championship events and a World Cup in 2007. This race followed the National Championships last weekend in Baie-St-Paul (BSP), Quebec. The Norco Factory team has been having a great year and Nationals was a major target for the team. Peter Disera came away with the under-23 National Title. The team also took home the Team Relay National Title. Some of us elite guys and Haley struggled a bit and weren’t entirely satisfied with our races.

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St Felicien was our weekend to get redemption and that we did. Something very special happened in the race. Before getting in too far here’s a quick recap of the week: the team stayed in BSP for a few extra days to train in the Charlevoix region. Team caption Kevin Haviland headed west to the 2017 Norco product launch. Us athletes were sad to miss the event. Big congratulations to Ryan Leech who celebrated 20 years with Norco! He’s a huge role model to us all. The team headed north with assistant caption Josh Toohill and arrived in St Fe a few days early to prepare on course and sharpen our swords for the weekend. The great thing about having a mechanic, assistant caption and all around helper extraordinaire who races DH like Josh is that he can come out on pre ride and scope lines with us.

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Here’s short video of the team riding the race course: LINK

 

By race morning everyone was itching to toe the line. Haley put together a strong race and came from 6th after the start loop to finish 2nd. She fought off local Quebec national champions and medallists from the national championships. It’s only her first year in the senior category as well!

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L-R: Catherine Fleury, Haley Smith, Sandra Walter, Cindy Montebault, Rebecca Beaumont Photo: Caroline Gautier

The guys squad started off with our team warm up, which turned into a 4-man pace line and  got our adrenaline going. We could all see that it was going to be a good day. Coming into this race 3 of the 4 guys have each won one of the last three Canada Cups. It’s quite incredible to have depth like this on a team. We kept saying all week that it was Andrews turn to win here. He rose to the occasion and attacked early to get out front. The pace strung out the field and caused some chaos in the chase. Evan Mcneely and I were able to capitalize on this and bridge up to Andrew.

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Photo: Aiden Brown

By lap 2 Andrew, Evan and I were off the front riding as a unit and building the gap. I think I can speak for the other guys when I say that riding in this position created energy, drive and the desire to win. We didn’t need to communicate much, we just took turns pulling in the windy sections and rode smart and efficient. We all knew without saying a word that what was going on was unexplainably special and that we could go 1-2-3. These guys aren’t just my teammates, they’re my friends. One of Canada’s Rio Olympians – Leandre Bouchard – was racing and we all have incredible respect for this guy. He’s been consistently top-20 in all the World Cups this year, so it was an honour to be on the podium spraying Champaign with this Rio-bound athlete.

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Photo: Caroline Gautier

In the end were crossed the line with Andrew taking his first Canada Cup win, myself in second and Mcneely in third. Peter followed up with a strong ride to finish 7th.  Mcneely is still leading the Canada Cup series as we approach the finals on August 19th at Crankworx. Andrew is in second and I moved into third spot overall. Norco also continues to lead the overall team ranking.

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Photo: Caroline Gautier

I may need to research this more but it’s either been an incredibly long time or it’s never happened where a team has finished 1-2-3 at a Canada Cup and won 4 races with 4 different athletes in the same year. We have an incredible team right now and I can’t thank everyone enough for what they bring to the program. Everyone at Norco Bicycles and Live to Play Sports who supports this program, our team sponsors who provide us the best and most reliable equipment, and our team captains Kevin Haviland, Jonathan Duncan and Josh Toohill who drive us around, work on our bikes, and keep us in line.

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L-R: Jeremy Martin, Evan Guthrie, Andrew L’esperance, Evan Mcneely, Leandre Bouchard Photo: Caroline Gautier

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Post-race group ride L-R: Andew, Kevin, Evan G, Evan M, Haley, Josh, and Peter

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The team is now dispersing back to their homes until we gather back up in Mont-Sainte-Anne for the World Cup on August 7th.