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Cyclocross event on track in second year

Competition coming back to Creekside

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Organizers of CycloCross Whistler have heard the feedback and the sophomore event will look a fair bit different from the freshman offering.

The races, slated to take place in Creekside from Sept. 25 to 27, will host cyclocross events on a course that will look fairly different from the one competitors saw in 2014.

"We're actually hoping to make a lot of improvements over the course we had last year," said Crankworx Events Inc. general manager Darren Kinnaird. "We're working more closely with the cyclocross community — local rider Ben Chaddock's been helping out quite a bit — and we got the guys from Joyride Bike Parks to come in and help with some of the prep as well."

Being a sport still in its relative infancy, there aren't rigid standards from race to race. However, Kinnaird explained there were numerous adjustments made to the course that will bring the Whistler course more closely in line with mainstream expectations.

"(There will be) more flow on the grassy sections, less difficult climbing, some flyovers, some ramps," he said. "It will be a little more of a proper cyclocross course.

"We learned a lot... We expect a lot more smiling faces this year."

North Vancouver's Kevin Calhoun, who won both pro men's races last year, said he enjoyed the course as it played to his strengths.

"Being a mountain biker, I prefer a more technical course versus one that's really wide open," Calhoun said. "Last year's course was more technical, so I really liked it."

That noted, he's thrilled to come back to Whistler and is encouraged to see organizers taking constructive criticism to heart to make a more inclusive event.

"At the end of the day, it's phenomenal that Whistler's getting behind hosting a cyclocross (race). It's one of the fastest-growing segments of cycling," he said. "Whether or not the course was to everyone's liking is beside the point, the fact that a world-class resort is hosting an event like that, and then the fact that they're taking feedback from different riding groups in terms of how to make the course better just shows how serious they are about it."

The races kick off Cycling BC's Premier CX Series, which is comprised of six races leading up to the provincial championships in Squamish on Nov. 29.

"We're expecting a similar number of riders (to 2014)," said Kinnaird, noting several participants will come to start the circuit.

Aside from the course, another change coming to the event this year is its expansion to three days, adding a criterium race on Friday night (Sept. 27).

"We'll have a fun crit race on Friday night and a fancy, silly dress race to end the day on Saturday. People can come out and dress in their best garb. There'll be prizes for best costume and silly things like that," Kinnaird said.

In addition to the highly competitive races, the community is invited to get involved as intermediate, novice, teen and kids races will also be held.

Pre-registration is offered online at www.whistlerblackcomb.com. Elite riders pay $30 for one day or $50 for two, while all other categories are $20 or $35, respectively. All prices increase by $10 for on-site registration. The crit, meanwhile, is $20 for pros and $10 for amateurs.

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