Top cyclists drop out as heat, crashes, and mechanical problems take their toll
With temperatures in the mid-30s, and the riders kicking up stampede-sized clouds of dust, the cross-country field at the Tim Hortons Canadian Mountain Bike National Championships was hit hard from the very beginning.
While most the riders were familiar with the course at Sun Peaks near Kamloops as a result of the previous weekends B.C. Cup and the nationals last season, the heat and the dust took their toll on the field. There were crashes, problems related to the heat, and more mechanical problems than usual to contend with. In some categories there were more DNFs next to names than finish times.
However, nothing could stop North Vancouvers Alison Sydor from claiming yet another national title in the Senior Elite Women category. It was her second Canadian title in as many years, and seventh since she started racing in 1987.
"It wasnt that bad to me, but the course was so demanding that you had to work all the time, there was nowhere to rest," Sydor told CP reporters after completing the 32.5 kilometre race.
Her time of 2:06:08.20 was almost four minutes ahead of the chase pack, which was led by Marie-Helene Premont of Quebec. Premont finished second in 2:10:06. Kiara Bisaro, a former Whistler resident who lives on Vancouver Island, was third in 2:12:13.
Whistlers Angela Teng completed the race in 18 th position at 2:34:04.
The Senior Elite Mens race finished without three of the top Canadians in the running. World Champion and defending Canadian champion Roland Green pulled out of the race in first lap after he decided he was unable to compete. The Victoria-based racer was bothered by a broken middle finger he sustained during a crash in training the day before.
Seamus McGrath of Ontario pulled out with mechanical problems.
Ryder Hesjedal dropped out of the race in the first 300 metres in order to stay healthy for the NORBA series and World Championships.
In total, only 30 of 48 starters made it to the finish line on the 39 kilometre course.
The day went to Victorias Geoff Kabush, who started the race up front with Green until Green dropped out. His final time of 2:05:30 placed him almost two minutes ahead of the second place rider at the finish line.
Peter Wedge of New Brunswick was second in 2:07:17, followed by Andreas Hestler in 2:08:05.
From Whistler, Dave Burch finished 22 nd in 2:40:04.
"Was I happy with my run? I was happy that I finished because it was a really difficult day, but I think I could have raced a lot better," said Burch.