2013 MTB XC National Championships – Event Review
The Canadian Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships made their long awaited return to Ontario this past weekend at the popular Hardwood Ski & Bike venue and Ontario riders showed why they are some of the best in the country.
On Thursday it was a strong field for the XC National Eliminator. The course was a 1km hammerfest with some very cool technical features that included a stair drop, “3 Rox” rock drop, and the “Joyride” jumps. The action was fast and furious with some great contact and sprint finishes. At the end it was Ontario’s Mitch Bailey and Peter Disera that finished 2nd and 3rd in the Men’s final. Quebec’s Leandre Bouchard took the win in the Main event. In the Women’s final it was Jean Ann Berkenpas from BC that took a strong win. The Eliminator format is very exciting for the fans and Pulse racing did a great job building a cool environment for athletes and fans.
Saturday saw U17 Expert, Junior Expert, and U23/Elite Men and Women take to the course with Team Ontario riders capturing three of the golds within a total of 10 podium spots. We were also fortunate to have a UCI MTB Commissaire on hand from his duties this past week at Hardwood as Technical Delegate for the 2015 PanAm Games to teach an intro course for Mountain Bike Officiating. The students who were able to attend benefitted from his years of experience and will definitely make a fine addition to the Commissaire program in Ontario.
The first groups on the course were the U17 and Junior Expert Men and Women. Team Ontario was represented by some of the top talent in these categories and it showed as Soren Meeuwisse from the Trek Store CC won gold in the U17 Expert Women category, finishing two minutes ahead of her closest competitor, Liah Harvie of Alberta. Erica Leonard (Trek Store CC), also representing Team Ontario on this day, was the next top Ontario rider finishing 5th. The U17 Expert Men race saw Team Ontario take the top two spots with Quinton Disera (CSAJCC p/b Norco LG) blowing away the competition to capture first while Tyler Orschel (Trek Store CC) finished in second.
Also on the course were the Junior Expert Men and Women and once again in the Men’s category it was the “Disera Show” as Quinton’s older brother Peter (CSAJCC p/b Norco LG), who has already this year won a National Championship in Road cycling, continued his incredible season taking MTB gold while Ontario teammates Jarred Jonker (J&J Cycle) and Aaron Thomas (CoachChris.ca/Ted Velikonja) finished 7th and 8th respectively. On the Women’s side, it was Quebec rider Rachel Pageau who was able to break the Ontario gold streak by capturing the top spot as Team Ontario rider Haley Golding (CSAJCC p/b Norco LG) came in for a close silver.
The second group on the course on Saturday saw the Elite and U23 Women tackle the technical Hardwood Ski & Bike course. All eyes were on the Elite race with 2012 Olympian Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) in attendance as well as BC’s Sandra Walter and Scott – 3 Rox Racing’s Mikaela Kofman and Amanda Sin. It would end up being Batty, who took off from the start and never looked back, capturing the National Championship with Walter and Sin rounding out the podium. Not to be outdone were the U23 females with Ontario riders Cayley Brooks (Trek Canada MTB Team) and Haley Smith (Norco Factory Team) in attendance along with Quebec competitors Frédérique Trudel and Andréane Nadeau. Unfortunately Ontario’s string of podium finishes would run out as the Quebec contingent took all 3 spots on the podium while Cayley Brooks would be the top Ontario finisher in 4th place.
Finally, to cap off a fantastic day of racing we saw the U23 Men and Elite Men compete with some great racing. The U23 Men was a two man showdown between Ontario riders Evan McNeely (Norco Factory Team) and Mitchel Bailey (Trek Canada MTB Team). Bailey would have the lead after lap one and just continue to extend that lead capturing the title while McNeely finished second. Quebec rider Antoine Caron would round out the podium. The Elite Men race saw a number of big names in attendance. Olympians Max Plaxton and Geoff Kabush came in from BC and were joined by Quebec rider Raphael Gagné and Ontario standouts Derek Zandstra and Cameron Jette, both of the Scott – 3 Rox Racing team.
After the first lap all these men were still grouped together as only 5 seconds separated first from fifth. Kabush would make a move on the second lap to take the lead and open up a small gap on teammate Zandstra and Plaxton. The three men continued to stick close together with Kabush still leading Plaxton and Zandstra by just over 10 seconds. On lap 4 however Plaxton and Zandstra would not only cut into the lead but pass Kabush as the two were neck and neck going into the 5th lap of this race. The 5th lap would be the turning point of the race as Zandstra would be the only rider to post a sub 17 minute lap and open up a significant gap on the field heading into the 6th and final lap of this grueling race. Having only to avoid any sort of mechanical, Zandstra would continue his torrid pace posting an even faster final lap to capture the Championship ahead of teammate Kabush who had overpassed Plaxton on the final lap for second. Scott – 3 Rox Racing’s Cameron Jette would finish 4th just slightly ahead of Trek Canada MTB Team member Peter Glassford.
Sunday started off nice and early with the U17 athletes starting at 8:30. For the first time in two weeks the humidity finally broke and the athletes were treated to crisp dry air to race in. An impressive 111 athletes made up the youth portion of the event, 36 of those being Minime boys, which made for some great racing.
The later races consisted of the Master men and women. Once again Ontario was well represented with our athletes taking five out of the six National Championship titles.
It was a fantastic weekend of racing throughout and showcased not only the great venue we have available here in Ontario but the premier talent within the province. Be sure to check out all the action next year as the National MTB-XC Championships return to Hardwood Hills.
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