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Garbanzo DH sees repeat winners

Flatter course can't keep Buchar, Gutierrez Villegas from the top



A flatter course left most competitors flatlining.

And even though both acknowledged they were gassed, the Garbanzo DH saw repeat winners in both pro categories, with local Claire Buchar and Colombian Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas topping the podium once again.

Both winners admitted conditions were a bit tougher this year, as a flat straightaway section right off the top served to drain them and others before competition really even got going. Buchar said her familiarity with the area seemed to make the difference in separating her from the field.

"I was a bit surprised. I knew Miranda (Miller) would be really hard to beat and a lot of these girls are super strong," she said. "But these are my woods, so I understand that I have an advantage for sure, just feeling at home on this terrain. I don't necessarily ride these trails every day — on purpose — but I feel at home here."

Buchar, who won with a time of 14 minutes, 43.15 seconds (14:43.15) to finish 1.2 seconds up on Squamish's Miller, explained it was a challenging day, as the flat section early on forced riders to pedal. The on-course conditions didn't make it easy on the tired riders either.

"I felt pretty awful. It's really hard to pedal your downhill bike for that long," she said. "Things dried up pretty quickly and there were a lot of holes and berms. It keeps you on your toes and it's hard to do when you're that tired."

On the men's side, Gutierrez Villegas completed the threepeat and has now been on the race's podium six years running. He said his fitness was put to the test and ultimately carried the day for him as he finished in a time of 12:56.93, 1.31 seconds ahead of Chris Kovarik.

"I'm fit. I like training hard and I like riding my bike a lot," he said. "I could tell some people even before they're racing, they just give up because it's too much for them.

"They made it even harder. It was more physical. But I still tried hard and today, I was dying. Halfway down, my legs were like, no gas anymore. I still had to go all the way to the bottom."

Gutierrez Villegas said the major challenge is finding the sweet spot of working and saving oneself to complete the race, a balance that became harder to gauge this year.

"You try to chill, but every time you do that you stop pedalling — because you're trying to rest a bit. (Then I am thinking) 'If you don't pedal then maybe when you cross the finish line and someone's beaten you by half a second, you (think) I should have just pedalled harder,'" he reasoned. "It's a hard track to figure out."

Miller and Anneke Beerten completed the top three for the women while Buchar's husband Kovarik and Sam Blenkinsop also hit the podium on the men's side. The third-place finish, in particular, helped Beerten extend her overall lead in the Queen of Crankworx race.

Winners took home $1,500 while other podium-finishers earned $1,000 and $750, respectively.

Amateur winners were: Dawn Cashen, Tyler Weyman, Matt Patterson, Craig Wilson, Proverbio Federico and Max Warshawsky.