Sydor third, Green sixth in physical race
Canadian cyclists were up to the challenge last weekend, earning two podium appearances and seven top-10 finishes in the UCI World Cup cross-country races at Grouse Mountain.
The women raced before a crowd of more than 10,000 spectators on Saturday, July 6. The sun was intense, and the course notoriously technical, with long uphill sections and downhill singletrack over a mass of roots and rock. There was even a rock drop and a fallen tree near the finish line to negotiate.
With family, friends and fans looking on, North Vancouvers 36-year-old Alison Sydor held on for six laps of the 4.6 km course to claim the bronze medal.
At one point the three-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist was in second place, but Sydor couldnt hold off the reigning world champion, Alison Dunlap from the U.S., who passed her on the last lap.
"I definitely wanted to be on the podium here," said Sydor. "Dunlap went by me on that last lap in the final climb, but I hung on until the finish, and am happy to put some bad luck in previous races behind me."
The battle for first place had already been decided in the fourth lap when leader Annabella Sopparo of Italy flatted out her rear tire. Sabine Spitz of Germany, who was second at the time, moved into first and built up a lead of more than two minutes by the end of the race.
Although she has been among the top riders on the circuit this year, it was Spitzs first World Cup victory.
"I had goosbumps on that last climb," said Spitz. "I tried to ride safely and not puncture. When I saw Annabella had flatted, I thought Okay, now its my time to lead. In mountain biking you have to have a little luck."
Spitz completed the course in one hour 58 minutes 28 seconds. Dunlap came in at 2:00:34, and Sydor less than a minute later in 2:01:27. Sydor was nearly four minutes ahead of the fourth place finisher.
The Canadian women raced well as a whole, with two others cracking the top 10. Chrissy Redden of Campbellville, Ontario the winner at Grouse last season finished sixth in 2:08:12. Kiara Bisaro of Vancouver was eighth in 2:09:17.
Also for Canada, Victorias Trish Sinclair was 11 th in 2:12:41. Eron Chorney of Vancouver was 16 th , Nikola Starko 18 th , Wendy Simms 21 st , Sandra Walter 22 nd , Claire Townsend 25 th , and Serena Lawrie 29 th to round out the top 30.