Gracia goes two for two 

Top riders tackle Whistler’s A-Line

The A-Line run in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park is widely touted as the most ridden bike trail in the world, and for good reason – it’s wide, it’s fast, and it’s almost impossible not to get air on it, with more than 30 table jumps from top to bottom.

For the second year in a row, the run has hosted the Air Downhill event, featuring World Cup riders who are in town after racing at Grouse Mountain the week before.

The turnout for Tuesday’s race was huge, with 50 riders taking part in the men’s pro, men’s amateur, women’s, junior and downhill chair races.

The big change, according to event organizer Paddy Kaye was the number of athletes entering as pros.

"We’re not getting the amateurs into the events, and the calibre of riding has gone way up," he said.

He saw a lot of impressive things in the race, but Whistler’s Adam Cook, who raced in the amateur men’s group, took the cake. His time would have placed him fourth among the pro racers – not bad considering that he’s still a junior, and spends most of his time racing cross-country.

"Cook totally came out of nowhere to win this thing," said Kaye. "He has a cross-country background, which is why he figures he did so well. He pedaled the whole way down. I asked him if it was the race of his life and he said, ‘Yes.’"

Kaye was also proud of Whistler’s James McSkimming, who finished second in the juniors.

"McSkimming still has a year at least as a junior, while the other guys will be moving up to pro, so he could own this race next year," he said.

Some of the best feedback on Joyride and the Air Downhill has come from the pro World Cup riders who enjoyed the formats, and the laid back atmosphere.

"A lot of it has to do with the terrain we’ve got and the people around the event," said Kaye.

"The riders can’t believe how relaxed and how much fun it is to race."

On Monday and Tuesady top prizes went to French world champion Cedric Gracia, who earned $2,000 on top of the $3,500 first prize he won in the Joyride Bikercross .

Gracia’s time of four minutes, 10.209 seconds on the five kilometre course gave him the title by less than a second. Bas Debever of Holland was a close second in 4:10.891, and Greg Minnaar of Russia was third in 4:11.664.

North Vancouver’s Thomas Vanderham, 19, was the top Canadian finishing in fourth place with a time of 4:13.517.

The top Whistler rider was Adam Billinghurst in 12 th position with a time of 4:16.995.

In the Amateur Men’s race, Adam Cook took the win by more than six and a half seconds with a time of 4:13:446. Kyle Ritchie of Garibaldi Highlands was second in 4:20:023, and Kevin Bartowski of Prince George was third in 4:21.033. Grant Laid and Greg MacDonald rounded out the top five, finishing fourth and fifth with times of 4:24.271 and 4:24.471 respectively.

Tracy Moseley of the UK took the women’s Air Downhill with a time of 4:31.478. Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands was second in 4:35.326, and Sabrina Jonnier was third with a time of 4:41.503.

Whistler’s Claire Buchar was next in 4:43.932.

In the Junior race, Jamie Biluk of Winnipeg was first for the second year in a row with a time of 4:25.091. Whistler’s James McSkimming was second in 4:31.838, and Jamie Wakeling of North Vancouver was third in 4:32.924.

Three downhill chair s also took part, with Whistler’s Stacy Kohut winning once again with a time of 5:41.189, edging out Brook Desqusnel and Johnny Therien.

Pro Men

Cedric Gracia, France

Bas Debever, Holland

Greg Minnaar, Russia

Thomas Vanderham, North Vancouver

Bryn Atkinson, Australia

Chrris Kovarik, California

Nathan Rennie, Australia

Rich Houseman, California

Bart McDaniel, Washington

Scott Beaumont, UK

Pro Women

Tracy Moseley, UK

Anneke Beerten, The Netherlands

Sabrina Jonnier, France

Claire Buchar, Whistler

Michelle Dumaresq, Vancouver

Jennifer Ashton, Whistler

Kathy Pruitt, California

Jo Johnstone, Whistler

Katrina Strand, Vancouver

Annie Bisson, North Vancouver

Amateur Men

Adam Cook, Whistler

Kyle Ritchie, Garibaldi Highlands

Kevin Bartkowski, Prince George

Will Clifford, Australia

Grant Laird, Whistler

Greg MacDonald, Whistler

Drew Neilson, North Vancouver

Jordan Giesbrecht, Prince George

Connor McLeod, West Vancouver

Paul Smail, Edinburgh

Junior

Jamie Biluk, Winnipeg

James McSkimming, Whistler

Jamie Wakeling, North Vancouver

Scott Spence, Penticton

Jamie Mangan, North Vancouver

Rupert Walker, Coquitlam

Cameron McCaul, California

Ross Measures, North Vancouver

Justin Terwiel, Haffrey Creek

Geoff Gulevich, North Vancouver

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