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Picton takes win in Fraser Valley

Astle second in pro women's division in Canadian National Enduro Series action

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Local enduro rider Leonie Picton performed well in the first Canadian National Enduro Series race of the season.

Picton dominated the second stage of the Fraser Valley contest, winning it by 26 seconds — she ended up winning the race's pro women's by 23 seconds over fellow Whistlerite Georgia Astle.

"It felt really good," Picton said. "You're never sure how your winter's gone, so it's good when you can start on such a good result."

Picton thrived on the longer stages, also winning the fourth and final stage in a time of 15:59 to put an exclamation point on the victory. But the second stage was where the race was ultimately won and lost as Picton built a buffer that was insurmountable.

"It was a fairly long stage. Not the longest of the day, but it had a pretty wild section," she said. "I felt good on the bike on Sunday. It was really good."

Picton acknowledged some apprehension heading into the May 7 race, as Stage 3 was a blind stage and some of the features were affected by slick conditions.

"Before Stage 3, the course marshals were recommending that people not do one of the features," she said. "All the wood was very slippery and there was a lot of wood that we had to deal with. It was definitely drying up through the day, but at the start of the day, I was very nervous."

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Picton has her eye on competing at the world's highest level — the Enduro World Series (EWS).

"I have a couple EWS (races) in the works. I'm just playing it by ear, but there's nothing locked in yet," she said.

Astle, meanwhile, started her season with a pair of EWS races in New Zealand and Australia, and was glad to be back on home soil. However, she said the conditions she experienced on the weekend were fairly similar to the wet and wild races in the southern hemisphere.

"I was already prepared to ride in the mud and not have any traction," she said. "It was pretty crazy (on Sunday)."

Astle is signed up for the Crankworx Canadian Open Enduro here in Whistler as likely her last EWS race of the season, but noted she'll compete in some other local enduro races, including more on the BC Enduro Series. Astle is also looking forward to getting back into the bike park and training for some downhill UCI World Series races as part of her other strong discipline.

"I like doing both. I like being able to do downhill and enduro and feel comfortable on both bikes," she said.

Other local medallists included Pemberton's Neve Abraham (second in U15 men), Xiola Aldrich (third in U21 women), Whistler's Jacob Larouche (third in 21 to 29 men), Seb Kemp (second in 30 to 39 men), Kate Whitley (third in open women), and Chris Johnston (second in pro men). Johnston's result, in particular, was impressive, as a day earlier, he took a fifth-place finish in the Vedder Mountain Classic cross-country race as he pulled off a combined 4,000 metres of climbing over the course of two days.

Full results are online at www.bcenduro.com.

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