A couple of Canada's top riders took home the titles, but Whistler racers in the field were impressive as well at the 2014 edition of the Test of Metal.
Max Plaxton captured the men's title of the notorious Squamish race in his return to the Sea to Sky corridor — having won the Nimby Fifty in Pemberton just a few weeks ago — earning a victory at the Test for the third time on Saturday, June 14.
Plaxton finished the race in two hours, 30 minutes, 54 seconds, winning the event for the first time since his back-to-back triumphs in 2008 and 2009.
Peachland's Evan Guthrie finished in the runner-up position, 2:28 behind Plaxton, while Kris Sneddon claimed third place. Squamish's Greg Day had the top finish by a Sea to Sky rider, placing fifth overall.
Meanwhile, Former world champion Catharine Pendrel claimed the women's crown, winning a record fifth title on the 67-kilometre course. The Kamloops rider reached the line in 2:55:15, making her the only woman to break the three-hour mark, as she held more than a 10-minute gap over podium finishers Jean Ann Berkenpas (3:05:45) and Wendy Simms (3:05:59). Sea to Sky racer Brandi Heisterman took fourth.
But as usual, Whistler riders factored into the results.
Team Whistler representative Chloe Cross produced a tremendous fifth-place finish in the women's field, clocking in at 3:08:24.
The fact that Saturday's race featured a number of elite-level competitors made the top-five result even sweeter for Cross.
"I was pretty stoked, and it was really exciting to have that group of really strong women at the race, too," said the 32-year-old. "It was definitely exciting to line up with all of those women... I had some good battles with all of those girls."
Cross said she felt strong on her bike all day, and most of the top women stayed together through the early sections of the course. She got past Berkenpas in the Lava Flow area, but then suffered a setback.
"I had planned to attack on the 9 Mile climb, and it went pretty much according to plan," said Cross. "Unfortunately, I picked up a little stick in my rear derailleur. I guess I was lucky not to break anything, but I did drop my chain, so I had to hop off my bike and that's when (Berkenpas) managed to pass me.
"That was a bit disappointing, but overall, I'm super happy with how things went down."
Squamish's Meghan Kindree and Zoe Dawson managed finishes in the women's top 10, while Pemberton's Leah Trudeau placed 11th and topped the 30-34 age group standings. Whistler's Sarah Olner finished 13th just a few minutes ahead of Squamish's Julie Miller, who was 15th.
Mahon Lamont posted his best-ever Test of Metal time, and was also the top Whistler finisher overall when he crossed the line in 19th place. The 18-year-old, who had previously never beaten the three-hour mark, completed the course in 2:50:21.
"It was a good race," said Lamont, who also recently earned his first WORCA Toonie win. "I didn't really have anything go wrong, so I was pretty happy.
"I probably didn't push it hard enough early, but I ended not having to suffer as much."
Despite the great result, Lamont had to settle for second in the junior men's division, as Squamish's Rhys Verner turned in a 10th-place finish overall — the first top 10 by an under-20 rider since Ryder Hesjedal accomplished the feat 18 years ago.
Both Cross and Lamont are preparing for a trip to Ontario next month, where they will compete in the Canadian Championships and a Canada Cup race.
Squamish's Quinn Moberg was the other Sea to Sky finisher in the top 10, placing sixth, while Dwayne Kress finished 11th.
Meanwhile, Whistler riders took top honours in both the men's 50-54 and 55-59 age groups, with Michael Judge topping the younger class in a time of 2:58:36. Tony Routley reached the finish 11 seconds behind Judge to win his age group, and set a personal-best time on the course.
"It was another good one," laughed Routley, who was 44th overall. "It just all went right. It was a beautiful day, the course was in really good shape, which definitely helps, and as far as the race, it all went perfectly for me.
"I guess I've got that course sussed out in terms of strategy."
Another age group win went to Whistler's Henric Meldgard, who beat all riders in the 60-69 division with a time of 3:32:42.
Other Whistler riders who notched top-100 finishes overall included Trevor Hopkins (47th), Alex Capon (66th), Joshua Stott (88th) and Darcy Trevelyan (100th).
Visit www.webscorer.com to view full results.
The next race in the Test of Metal series is the GearJammer, going July 19. Organizers have also announced that the series closer, Just Another Bike Race, will run in concert with this year's Canadian Mountain Bike Marathon National Championships on Aug. 16, with marathon competitors adding another lap. See www.testofmetal.com for more details.
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