Strand, Clementz take Enduro 

Tight start times push riders

click to enlarge s-katrina-strand-enduro.jpg

The Canadian Open Enduro wrapped up in Whistler Village on Saturday afternoon, after a sometimes hellish day for racers in the sold-out event.

The race included four timed singletrack sections with an emphasis on downhill skills. The first stage was basically Crank It Up, both Upper and Lower sections, before heading out to Lost Lake Park and a mix of Central Scrutinizer, followed by Treacherous Cretins, Toads of the Short Forest, Gee I like Your Pants, Son of Mr. Green Genes and Jelly Roll Gum Drop. Next up was the climb up to Golden Boner followed by Roam in the Loam, across the fire road to the Magic Trails and down to Blackcomb Base. The final stage started at the peak of Whistler and included Top of the World,No Joke,Little Alder, Expressway, Too Tight, Angry Pirate, Samurai Pizza Cat, up B Line Connector to Colbeck's Rock, Lower Whistler DH, Lower Hornet and GLC Drops.

On the men's side, French enduro star Jerome Clementz - in town on holiday before he found out about the event and decided to enter - took the win with a combined time of 36 minutes, 46.23 seconds, 35.1 seconds ahead of Curtis Keene and 46.2 ahead of Brian Lopes.

Dan Atherton and Aaron Bradford rounded out the top five. The climbing sections weren't timed but with tight schedules in before stages two and three it might as well have been.

"This morning we knew before we started that it would be tight, but it was really, really tight," said Clementz. "Between Crank It Up and Lost Lake, I didn't stop, I kept racing and I made it to the next start with one minute to go."

Clementz's favourite section was the last, starting with the new Top of the World trail from the peak, and all the different styles of training towards the bottom. It also helped to be going into the last section in first place.

"In Europe they have really long stages, so coming in I knew I could do well on the last section."

He earned $2,500 for his efforts.

On the women's side, Whistler's own Katrina Strand took the win in 45:23.52, followed by New Zealand's Rosara Joseph 2:02.98 later and Katherine Short of the Sunshine Coast a minute and 40 seconds after that. Kelli Emmett and Megan Rose rounded out the top five.

Strand also raced hard to make her start times.

"It was hard," she said. "I didn't stop racing from stage one to the end of stage three. I knew the transitions were going to be pretty tight, but I almost missed the start time for stage two. It was really one of the hardest cross-country races I've been in, in a way. The first two stages I was falling all over the place, so i was pretty happy to get to the last stage in the park."

Although she's a former national downhill champion, racing the Enduro course on a cross-country bike made things a little more interesting. "What I did was make my cross-country bike a little bigger - bigger tires, a bigger fork, which made me a little more confident to let my bike go a little more. And I loved the Top of the World trail to start (the last stage), it was pretty new to us, but it was so awesome to be up there."

Complete results from all the categories are posted online at www.crankworx.com.

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