Jesse Melamed's lead atop the Sea to Sky Enduro Series standings is looking insurmountable after the Whistler rider collected another victory during the Cheakapotamus on Saturday, June 28.
Melamed completed the five timed stages, set along trails in Whistler's south end, in 27 minutes, 37 seconds, and he remains unbeaten through the first four races of the inaugural series.
Katrina Strand also picked up a victory on her home trails to extend her lead atop the pro women's series standings.
Remi Gauvin (28:50) rode into second place behind Melamed in the pro men's class, while Kyle Sangers was another two seconds back to claim third spot.
"It was awesome, it was super interesting," Melamed said of Saturday's race, shortly after wrapping up the final stage down Lower Riverside. "I've raced these trails a long time ago in Loonie Races, but that's totally different — you're on an XC bike, it's an XC race. So to be on an enduro bike and pushing these trails is pretty funny. Every corner is super loose and I was laughing to myself the whole time because I blew out almost every corner."
The victory was a small measure of redemption for Melamed, who took a DNF when racing in France on the Enduro World Series the previous weekend.
"Unfortunately, I flatted. It happened to a lot of people," he said. "It's a bummer. My goal this season was to have a good overall finish at the end. I'm still sitting 29th overall, which is good, but I got zero points from that rounds, so my hopes of a top-15 finish, or maybe even top-10, are gone."
But with his lead in the Sea to Sky standings now larger than 100 points (competitors get 80 for a win) and just two races left, Melamed could clinch the season title with even a mediocre result when the series resumes in Squamish on Saturday, July 5, with The Mock Turtle. The 22-year-old is planning to race the event, as the finale will conflict with a World Series race in late July.
Strand, meanwhile, has had plenty of podium finishes in downhill and enduro races around B.C. and the U.S. this summer, but has mostly had to settle for a lower step on the podium. Although the field was small on Saturday, Strand was pleased to take the victory nonetheless.
"I've been kind of stuck in the twos and the threes, so it was obviously nice to get a number one," she said.
By finishing with a combined time of 33:30, Strand managed to hold off Carrie Meltzer for the win by 23 seconds.
Saturday's race featured more pedalling than any other stop on the series thus far, and Strand said that probably wasn't a bad thing for her.
"It was really, really physical... There was a lot of descending, but a ton of pedalling," she said. "That can play into my strength, for sure.
"For everybody, it was a really challenging course, because it was non-stop on the gas."
Seb Kemp took top spot in the master men's division, recording a finish time of 30:10. Joining Kemp in the top three were Keith Ray (30:38) and Craig Wilson (30:53).
In the open men's race, it was Quentin Emeriau (30:42) who was fastest over the five stages, though not by much, as runner-up Nick McLeod was just three seconds behind. Adam Price rounded out the category's podium.
Other group winners on Saturday included Tina Plumb (master women), Simmone Lyons (open women), Felix Abraham (junior men) and Emily Johnston (junior women).
Registration for The Mock Turtle is still open. Visit www.squamishenduro.com for race details or to sign up. Whistler will host the series finale on July 26.
LOCALS HIT PODIUM IN KELOWNA
As the Sea to Sky Enduro Series continued in Whistler, a few local riders made the trip to Kelowna this weekend and hit the podium at the third round of the B.C. Enduro Series on Saturday.
Whistler's Georgia Astle was the fastest rider in the open women's class across all four stages, taking the victory with a time of 20:36. Squamish's Veronika Voracek was the women's runner-up, finishing 1:05 back.
Also winning their group was Whistler's Conrad Murdoch, who claimed the junior men's title in 18:37. Murdoch won the opening stage and placed second over the remaining three to earn the win.
Meanwhile, Whistler's Jordan Hodder rode to a second-place finish in the pro men's race, finishing second on every stage to clock a combined time of 16:58. Hodder finished 13 seconds back of winner Evan Guthrie.
Full results are posted at www.bcenduro.com. The series now breaks for a month before resuming on the Sunshine Coast in late July.
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