Canada takes three medals in mountain biking
With the strongest European competitors not participating, Canadian mountain bikers cruised their way to the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, on July 29.
In the morning race Ontarios Chrissy Redden caught a break on lap four when Caroline Alexander of Scotland flatted out her tubeless tire on some sharp rocks. A minute back at the time, Redden passed her and built her lead of six second to 16 on the last lap.
Susy Pryde of New Zealand made an attempt to catch the Canadian on the uphill but Redden was too strong and had a 10-second lead heading into the singletrack, where Canadians usually have the advantage.
"I knew that I could give it everything at the end if I could have 10 seconds at the top of the descent. I knew I could stay ahead, as long as she was not on my wheel coming onto the road for the finish," Redden told reporters.
Reddens final time for the 32.5 kilometre course was one hour 32 minutes 10 seconds. Pryde came in at 1:32:26, and Mary Grigson of Australia finished third in 1:32:49.
Canadian riders finished fourth and fifth, with Marie-Helene Premont of Quebec coming in at 1:34:06 and Kiara Bisaro finishing exactly three minutes later. Alison Sydor, Canadas national champion, elected to stay home and train for the World Cup circuit rather than attend the Games.
For Redden, it was a sweet victory after she crashed on the first lap of the Canadian Mountain Bike Championships and was forced to pull out of the competition.
"It feels really good to have a gold medal from the Games," she said.
The mens competition that afternoon was a slightly different story but with the same ending.
Victorias Roland Green, the reigning mountain bike world champion and World Cup champion, took the 39 kilometre mens race by a comfortable margin over teammate Seamus McGrath.
Not only did he win the first mens mountain bike medal ever presented at a Commonwealth Games, he did it on his birthday.
"Every race Ive had on my birthday, Ive ended up winning," Green told reporters after the race. "Maybe there is extra power from that, or something. This being the first time that mountain biking is in the Commonwealth Games makes it special, and to get 1-2 with my teammate Seamus feels really great."
Kashi Leuchs of New Zealand took the lead at the beginning of the race and had an almost 15 second lead after the long climb. He used up everything, however, and crashed on the descent. By the end of the race he was more than six minutes off the lead.
Green moved into first place, followed closely by McGrath of Mississauga, Ontario. McGrath stayed with Green throughout the race and the pair gradually pulled ahead of the rest of the pack.
Green finished with a time of 1:52:48, 46 seconds ahead of McGrath after a burst of energy on the final lap.
"Roland was so strong today, it was all I could do to stay with him," said McGrath. "Riding behind him was like being behind a motorcycle."
Liam Killeen of England finished two minutes behind McGrath.
Geoff Kabush, the 2002 Canadian Champion, finished 10th.