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Mechanical difficulties plague Canadian cyclists

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No podiums, but promising results at Quebec World Cup

The Canadian leg of the UCI World Cup tour got off to a fast start last weekend with downhill, cross-country and 4-cross events at Mont-Sainte-Anne.

While the Canadian contingent only managed to put one athlete into the top five, Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal, defending world champion Roland Green of Victoria was sixth and Seamus McGrath of Ontario seventh to give Canada three spots in the top 10 of the men’s cross-country.

Mathieu Toulouse of Quebec was the only other Canadian to crack the top 30, finishing 18 th overall.

The 5.7 kilometre course was challenging with the heat and the dust, and the men struggled to complete six laps. Filip Meirhaeghe of Belgium took the top spot in two hours one minute 18 seconds. Christophe Dupuoey of France finished two minutes 14 seconds back to win the silver medal. Lado Fumic of Germany was 21 seconds back of Dupuoey.

Hesjedal, leading the chase group, finished 4:16 back of the lead. "I just missed the group at the front," Hesjedal told Canadian Cyclist . "When they went into the woods I was in a bad position. After that I just had to stay steady and play catch up."

Green, who has been forced to pedal through various technical difficulties over the course of this season, finished more than five minutes back of the leader.

"On the second lap my brakes came loose. Then on the third lap I flatted, but I had a quick change (under two minutes). I was a little flat today with the heat but I started to come around in the last lap. At the finish it was a dogfight for my sixth place."

In the women’s cross-country race, Annabella Stropparo of Italy took an early lead and held onto it for all five laps to win her first ever World Cup. Barb Blatter of Switzerland was second, 33 seconds back, and Alison Dunlap of the U.S. was third almost three minutes back.

While the Canadians were shut out of the podium, three riders managed to finish in the top 10. Marie-Helene Premont of Quebec, racing in her hometown, was seventh, while Kiara Bisaro and Alison Sydor of Vancouver were ninth and 10th.

"Obviously I was hoping for a little better finish," said Sydor, a three-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist. "I had a good start and was riding with the front group, but it was too fast so I rode my own pace. I though I was being conservative, but with a lap and a half to go I had nothing left."

Chrissy Redden of Ontario, last year’s champion at Mont-Sainte-Anne, was forced out of the race on the first lap when her rear derailleur broke.

In the downhill competition, a long course covering 3,100 metres of ground, Steve Peat of Great Britain won with a time of five minutes 9.67 seconds. Cedric Gracia of France was second in 5:13.55, and Greg Minnaar of Russia was third in 5:18.27.

Dustin Adams was the top Canadian, finishing 25 th with a time of 5:29.87. Michael Jones was 30 th in 5:35.14.

In the women’s downhill, Anne-Caroline Chausson of France continued to dominate the sport, finishing first with a time of 5:54.47. Sabrina Jonnier of France and Tracy Moseley of Great Britain were second and third. Whistler’s Cassandra Boon finished 19 th for Canada. Michelle Dumaresq and Sophie Poirier of Quebec were 25 th and 26 th .

Vancouver’s Jordie Lunn was the only Canadian in the men’s 4-cross, finishing 20 th .

The Canadian cross-country team, bolstered by some of the top riders in British Columbia, will be racing in the World Cup cross-country at Grouse Mountain this weekend.

Both the downhill and 4-cross events scheduled for Grouse were cancelled due to the heavy late-season snowpack. Many of the World Cup downhill and 4-cross athletes came to Whistler instead to participate in Joyride 2002 and the Air Downhill on July 5.

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