The UCI World Cup cross-country mountain bike season kicked off in Albastadt, Germany, this past weekend, and while the Canadians finished short of the podium there were a few strong performances.
The top Canadian was Emily Batty, who posted some of the fastest lap times of the day, though she said she made her move too late. She was in the mid-teens on her first lap and by the fourth lap was sitting sixth. She might have moved up even higher, but had a damaged wheel.
"It's a total bummer," she told Canadian Cyclist after missing the podium. "I should have turned it on a little earlier. But with those steep climbs it was just easier to maintain a certain speed and really punch (at the finish) but I ran out of time. But I was feeling awesome, so it is a great start to the season."
Other Canadian women in the race were Catharine Pendrel in 12th, Makaela Kofman in 35th and Amanda Sin in 44th.
Eva Lechner of Italy took the win, followed by Maja Wloszczowska of Poland and Katrin Leumann of Switzerland.
On the men's side, Max Plaxton was the top Canadian in seventh, while Geoff Kabush placed 12th. Derek Zandstra was 36th, Raphael Gagne 45th and Cameron Jette 59th.
Plaxton also moved up too late in the race to contend for the podium.
"There were a lot of people crashing, so I tried not to overdo it too much," he said. "Maybe I should have gone a little harder, but seventh in my first World Cup in a long time... I'm happy."
Enduro World Series opens
The newly created, seven-event Enduro World Series opened in Punta Ala, Italy, over the weekend with an all-star cast of riders taking part. The turnout bodes well for both Crankworx events, Les 2 Alpes and Whistler, which are hosting the third (July 6 and 7) and fifth (August 10 and 11) events in the series.
There were no Canadians listed in the results, but lots of names that will be familiar to Whistler.
Fabien Barel placed first overall with a combined time of 20 minutes, 38.1 seconds over five different descents, followed by Jerome Clementz in 20:50.6. Both hail from France. Australia's Jared Graves was third in 20:53.1, Martin Maes of Belgium was fourth in 21:12.4 and Dan Atherton of Great Britain fifth in 21:16.7.
Tracey Mosely of Great Britain was the top female racer in 24:21.8, followed by Emmeline Ragot of France in 25:17.6 and Cecile Ravanel of France in 26:03.5.
Numbers are limited for the Whistler event, billed as the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro presented by Specialized, but there will be a second round of registration opening on Saturday, June 1 at 9 a.m. Those spots are expected to go fast so act quickly.
Part of the reason for the popularity of the event among pro riders is the prize money that's available. In April, with the confirmation of Specialized as a sponsor, the prize purse for the top male and female jumped to $10,000 and $5,000 respectively, with an additional $9,000 for second and third.
For more, visit www.crankworx.com.
Miller, Gauvin top Canada Cup opener
Squamish's Miranda Miller and Vancouver Islander Remi Gauvin opened the Canada Cup downhill series with wins at Mt. Tremblant on Sunday, May 19.
Miller cleaned the course in 4:24.7, a full 22 seconds faster than Vaea Verbeeck. Kristen Courtney was third in 4:49.3.Pemberton's Jaime Hill also raced, placing sixth.
Remi Gauvin won the men's race in 3:47.4, followed by Kyle Sangers in 3:50.4 and Matthew Beer in 3:50.8. Whistler's Nick Geddes also raced, placing 11th overall in 4:07.5.
In Junior Expert, Squamish's Lee Jackson placed second to American rider Vezina McKay with times of 3:56.0 and 4:04.6. North Shore rider Matt Hardwick placed third in 4:07.8.
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