Sports » Features

Buchar, Jones return to Team Canada

Cyclists preparing for World Mountain Bike Championships in France


For the third straight year Whistler’s Claire Buchar will once again represent Canada at the FIS World Mountain Bike Championships, this year at Les Gets, France. The downhiller was sick in 2002 and injured in 2003 heading into the world championships, but she says she’s healthy so far this year, "knock on wood."

Bolstered by top-15 performances at World Cup events at Mont Ste. Anne and Calgary Olympic Park and a third place finish in the nationals, she is hoping to land in the top-20 in France.

"That’s pretty realistic for me, I think, but it’s hard to say because the championships are different than World Cup events, different riders come out and it just seems that there’s a lot more competition," said Buchar.

She would have liked to train more with her World Cup teammates heading into the championships, but aside from a national team camp in Whistler earlier this year Buchar has been mostly self-coached. She was also self-supported after her team disappeared heading into this season.

Despite the lack of coaching and funding, Buchar has remained dedicated to her goal of establishing herself as one of the top downhillers on the circuit. She spent the winter in the gym building her strength, and will use the few weeks left before the championships for conditioning.

"During the season you can’t really train because you get too worn down with all the riding you’re doing, so the best you can hope to do is maintain your strength. By the end of the season you start to lose some of that strength, so I hope to give myself a little boost for the worlds," she said.

From a technical standpoint, she knows she is going to have to be on top of her game on the Les Gets course.

"It’s technical and really tough riding," said Buchar. "September is usually quite wet in France, so mud tires are going to be key. It’s also quite long, with a lot of off-camber roots and rocks – it’s similar to what we have in Squamish. There are a few high speed sections and some parts are really technical so you have to know when to go fast and when to slow down."

It’s impossible to specifically train for one course, Buchar says – "you have to show up prepared, and be ready for anything."

She will be joined in France by another Whistler rider, Mike Jones, who was the 2003 national champion, and Squamish rider Kyle Ritchie.

The team was announced last week by the Canadian Cycling Association. A total of 32 cross-country athletes and 17 downhill athletes will represent Canada in the cross-country and downhill races.

The number of B.C. riders on the team is down this year, but the province still makes up the bulk of the team with 19 riders out of 49 athletes. The Maritimes are starting to make their presence felt with five riders this year, and the remainder are from Ontario and Quebec.

Elite Men XC

Ryder Hesjedal, Victoria

Seamus McGrath, Carlisle ON

Ricky Federau, Abbotsford

Geoff Kabush, Victoria

Mathieu Toulouse, Mont Tremblant QC

Chris Sheppard, Kamloops

Peter Wedge, Fredericton NB

Elite Women XC

Alison Sydor, North Vancouver

Marie-Helene Premont, Chateau Richer QC

Kiara Bisaro, Courtenay

Chrissy Redden, Binbrook ON

Karen DeWolfe, Fredericton NB

Trish Sinclair, Victoria

Catharine Pendrel, Victoria

Espoir Men XC

Martin Lazarski, Toronto ON

Max Plaxton, Tofino

Andrew Watson, Barrie, ON

Derek Zandstra, Trenton ON

Kris Sneddon, Victoria

Jamie Lamb, Dartmouth NS

Matt Hadley, Fredericton NB

Junior Men XC

Raphael Gagne, Beauport QC

Alex Fortier, QC

Mark Batty, Brooklin ON

Ian Mcavity, Dieppe NB

Jonathan Boulanger, QC

Gabriel Jarry-Bolduc, QC

Junior Women XC

Olivia Gagne, Beauport QC

Kylie Case, Winnipeg MB

Evelyne Pichette, Beauport QC

Isabelle Jacques, QC

Sarah Coney, ON

Elite Men DH

Mathieu Laurin, Ste Adele QC

Dustin Adams, Kamloops

Derek Chambers, ON

Mike Jones, Whistler

Geoff Pendrel, Victoria

Eric Goss, Fredericton NB

Elite Women DH

Michelle Dumaresq, Vancouver

Danika Schroeter, Vancouver

Claire Buchar, Whistler

Deb MacKillop, Nelson

Janelle Cassidy, North Vancouver

Caroline Milot, Laferte QC

Junior Men DH

Justin Brown

Andrew Mitchell, Victoria

Kyle Ritchie, Squamish

Guillaume Soucy-Allaire, QC

Junior Women DH

Marie-Pier Alix, QC