With European competitors not on the invite list, Canadian mountain bikers had a field day in Mexico City at the Pan Am Mountain Bike Championships last weekend.
With races taking place at an altitude of about 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) it was a tough day for all competitors, but every member of the small Canadian team still managed to finish in the top-five of every competitive category.
U.S. rider Mary McConneloug led a sweep of the womens race. She was followed by Kelli Emmett and Willow Koerber, who lives in Whistler. Victoria riders Patricia Sinclair and Catherine Pendrel were fourth and fifth respectively.
In the mens elite race, Ricky Federau of Abbotsford was fourth overall, five minutes behind winner Deiber Esquivel of Costa Rica. U.S. riders Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Michael Broderick were second and third.
Max Plaxton of Tofino, racing in the Under 23 category, was third in his group.
Squamish rider Neil Kindree and Raphael Gagne of Lac Beauport, Quebec, were second and third in the junior mens race, behind Alejandro Dario Gasco of Argentina.
"This race was a development opportunity since, in this non-Olympic year, there were no qualifying criteria," said national coach Michel Leblanc. "It was an opportunity for riders like Plaxton and Federau to meet carding standards for athlete support."
According to Leblanc the notorious smog surrounding Mexico City was not too bad, which also helped the Canadian riders.
Federau described the race as "tough, very tough. The altitude made it very hard because every time you wanted to push it hurt.
"This has been a long season for all of us, so by this time of year it is extra hard to keep going."
Green retires from cycling
Roland Green was the strongest mountain biker in the world from 2000-2002 and has all the titles to prove it:
Second in 2000 UCI mountain bike world championships, third in 2000 overall World Cup; first in 2001 world championships, first overall in 2001 UCI World Cup; first in 2002 world championships, second overall in 2002 World Cup, and third in 2003 world championships. He has four national titles, assorted NORBA titles, eight World Cup podiums, and numerous other accomplishments on both mountain bike and road bike including five Cheakamus Challenge titles.
Through a mixture of illnesses, injuries and bad luck flatting out, breaking chains and crashing at the worst possible moments the past few years have been tough on Green. His luck and health started to improve again this year, culminating with a second-place finish at the national championships, but then he had to pull out of the world championships after a flat. Thats when Green, after 16 years of racing bikes, decided it was time to retire.
According to an interview with Canadian Cyclist ( www.canadiancyclist.com ), Green will divert his attention to his property management company, and will not defend his Commonwealth Games title.
"I was at the high level for a few years, and could maintain my form, but when I started to slide, no matter the training, it was very frustrating. When you are used to being in the top results, its not the same to keep racing," he said.
"I cant say that I didnt try. I spent a lot of time in California in the early season, I put in a lot of miles. I dont really know what it was. Maybe as you get older the body doesnt have it anymore. The hardest thing was to go as hard as before and not get the results."
Green says that he is doing a lot of trail running these days, and expects to ride his bike again although not as competitively as in the past.
"Right now it feels good to stand up straight and have proper posture."