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Plaxton, Sydor breeze to Cheakamus titles

Local riders top age categories

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By Andrew Mitchell

After a week of rain and cooler temperatures the sun broke through Saturday for the 22 nd running of the Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic, creating almost perfect conditions for riders. Aside from some slippery sections on Trash it was a high-speed day for most riders, with the usually dusty climbs up from Calcheak and to Tunnel Vision offering a little extra traction.

For most riders the course was a long 71 km, starting at Squamish Airport and finishing in Whistler via a series of single and doubletrack trails, and roads. There was also a 42 km Cheakamus Lite race that started at the Bungee Bridge near the Calcheak campground.

The race for first place was all over by the end of the Cheakamus Canyon, with Victoria’s Max Plaxton defending his title with everything he had. By the time he reached the finish line at Dusty’s — after three hours, eight minutes and 48 seconds — he had built a lead of close to five minutes over the rest of the competition.

Kris Sneddon of Victoria was second in 3:13:24, while Squamish rider Neal Kindree — second in last year’s Cheakamus Challenge — placed third in 3:19:03.

Andreas Hestler also raced, still feeling the effects of the 108 km Samurai of Singletrack race the previous weekend. He was fourth in 3:24:09.

Two Whistler riders placed fifth and sixth, with Matt Bodkin coming in at 3:30:29 and Samurai winner Chris Clark posting a 3:33:54. Other local riders in the Pro Expert category were Ryan Edwards of Squamish in eighth, Simon Tremblay of Squamish in 15 th and Josh Stott of Pemberton in 4:10:03.

The top female rider, placing 10 th overall against some of the fastest men in Canada, was West Vancouver’s Alison Sydor in 3:38:41. This was her fifth Cheakamus Challenge win.

Victoria’s Trish Sinclair was second in 3:55:04, while Sandra Walter of Coquitlam was third in 4:05:26.

Whistler’s Lesley Clements finished just over four minutes back of the Pro Expert women’s podium in 4:09:38. Pemberton’s Hillary Harrison was sixth in 4:24:13, and Squamish’s Charlotte Klein seventh in 4:34:19.

Several local riders also finished at the top of their age groups.

In the Men’s 14-18 race Hayden Drygas of Squamish was sixth in 4:37:30.

Whistler’s Joe Lyons placed fourth in the Men’s 19 to 29 race in 4:18:06, riding the same freeride hardtail he brings to every ride. Todd Botham was eighth in the same category in 4:38:11, while David Poulsen, David Smith and Craig Power were 12 th , 13 th and 18 th respectively.

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