After Kris Sneddon secured his second consecutive BC Bike Race title, he was quick to credit the win to a little help from his friends.
With Kona teammates Spencer Paxson and Barry Wicks joining him in the top four of the Men's Solo Epic class of the seven-day mountain bike stage race, the Sechelt rider said their support was key to earning a repeat victory.
"It helps a ton. I wouldn't have been able to do it without them," Sneddon said moments after crossing the final finish line in Whistler on Saturday, July 5, with a cumulative winning time of 15 hours, 13 minutes, 54 seconds.
"Barry saved me when I flatted (on Day 4), gave me his wheel and kept me in the race, pretty much.
"It feels good."
Meanwhile, Lea Davison hung on for the Women's Solo Epic win ahead of two-time defending champ Wendy Simms, and the Sea to Sky duo of Quinn Moberg and Greg Day had little trouble capturing the Open Team of 2 title.
Sneddon was off the stage podium on Saturday, finishing fourth while American Jason Sager earned his second single-day victory of the race, but it was his only time out of the top three all week. After winning three stages — including both near his native Sechelt — Sneddon had built a near three-minute cushion to play with over the short-but-difficult final leg in Whistler, and not much could have stopped him from taking down another general classification victory.
"Just don't screw up was basically the plan," the 32-year-old said with a grin, detailing his approach to the final day.
"Last year's was a bit more of a battle between me and Neal (Kindree). This one wasn't quite as much of a battle... I sort of was battling Spence, but it's not quite the same because he's my teammate."
Paxson rode into the runner-up spot for the second-straight year, finishing 2:38 back of teammate Sneddon, while U.S. competitor Tristan Uhl placed third, spending an extra 11:45 on the trails over the course of the week.
"It would have been cool to have all three of us (Kona guys) up there, but it was a good week. We were all riding together, having fun," said Paxson. "Me, Barry and Kris are all from this neck of the woods, and this type of riding suits us really well."
Sneddon can now boast multiple titles in both the solo and team categories of the BC Bike Race, but it's not necessarily the prospect of winning that keeps him coming back for more.
"It's fun riding all the awkward singletrack. That's my favourite; that's what I'm good at," said Sneddon, who's now preparing for the national championships in Ontario later this month. "It's fun getting on some Whistler trails, because they're quite different than the North Shore and Cumberland. It's like a different world."
MOBERG, DAY DOMINATE TEAM CATEGORY
As impressive as Moberg and Day's team title was — they finished nearly two hours clear of the rest of the field — the Squamish duo's most notable performance came on their home trails Friday, July 4.
That's because they reached the finish as the overall stage winners on Day 6, and the Rocky Mountain riders are believed to be the first team to ever win a stage outright since the BC Bike Race introduced a solo category.
"We certainly didn't hold anything back on that day. We had that day on our minds and wanted to take the win," said Moberg.
"I couldn't have asked for a better partner. Greg rode well."
Moberg, 20, was participating in the event for the first time, and although he's done his share of stage racing on a road bike, seven consecutive days of mountain bike racing was a different animal.
"It was a big learning curve... It was my first mountain bike stage race, and there's no faking it or hiding," he said. "You're always on it."
Day and Moberg finished with a cumulative time of 16:12:07. The runners-up, Swiss riders Joerg Franke and Ruben Wey, were 110 minutes behind.
Day, who won the team title in 2013 with Kevin Calhoun, said he didn't have any worries over pairing up with a BC Bike Race rookie this time.
"I had no reservations about riding with Quinn," said Day. "We went pretty hard off the start at the beginning of the week, wanting to get a good gap. We paid the price a little bit in the middle of the race... but we refocused our sights on (the Squamish) stage.
"We were pretty ecstatic (on Friday). We rode right by my front door, and pretty close to Quinn's house, on all the trails we train on. That was cool."
Former world champion Catharine Pendrel and partner Maghalie Rochette claimed the Open Women's Team of 2 title, finishing at 18:31:33.
DAVISON HANGS ON FOR WOMEN'S WIN
Vermont's Davison had taken the lead away from Simms in Squamish on Friday, and although Simms cut off most of the deficit in Whistler on Saturday, it wasn't enough to capture her third-straight Women's Solo Epic title.
Davison posted a total finish time of 18:27:48, putting her ahead of Simms by a little less than two minutes.
"I can't believe it," said an elated Davison. "Wendy's so strong, and this is her backyard. Man, it came right down to the wire.
"If today had been any longer, I would have been in trouble, for sure."
Simms did everything she could to close the gap on Saturday, reaching the Whistler Olympic Plaza finish line 2 ½ minutes quicker than Davison for the stage win, but knew it would be tough to reel Davison in the whole way.
"It's been a really fun week racing with Lea," said Simms. "If I had another 10K, I think I would have had it. That's my kind of terrain, and Lea herself said she was cracking a bit."
Whistler's Graeme Fitch, participating the BC Bike Race for a record eighth time, finished fourth with partner Greg McDougall in the Team of 2 Veterans 100 group (combined ages of 100 or more), posting a total time of 24:35:13.
Fellow resort rider Michael Robinson did not earn a cumulative time after falling ill during the race on Day 2. However, last year's fifth-place finisher in the Men's Solo Epic class did manage to post several top-20 finishes on individual stages throughout the week, including an 18th-place result on his home trails on the final day.
Visit www.bcbikerace.com for full results, or to register for next year's event.