With more than a foot of water on the downhill and cross country courses in some places, it was carnage at the Tim Hortons National Mountain Bike Championships at Mont Ste. Anne last week. Even the winner of the mens national downhill title crashed twice on his run.
The short 1.7 km downhill course the track was more than 4 km in Whistler last year rode far slower than it did at the World Cup earlier this year as riders got lost in the deep mud and slippery roots.
In the womens downhill, Vancouvers Michelle Dumaresq defended her national title with a time of four minutes, 5.25 seconds, finishing over 14 seconds faster than her closest competitor. She made it to the bottom without crashing, but lost a lot of momentum after slipping on a root in a tree section. She estimates that she lost seven or eight seconds in the mishap.
In second and third were Whistler riders Danika Schroeter and Claire Buchar, who finished neck and neck with times of 4:19.39 and 4:19.50 respectively. Buchar was second in last years race.
In the mens race it was Quebecs Mathieu Laurin who finished on top, despite two crashes on the course one over the handlebars of his bike. Still, he was able to hold onto the lead from top to bottom to finish the course in 3:22.80. Eric Goss of New Brunswick was second in 3:27.39 and Quebecs Philippe Menard third in 3:29.22. Michael Jones, last years champion, finished seventh with a time of 3:33.63.
Whistlers Chris Dewar finished 11 th in 3:36.05.
In the Junior Expert 17-18 category Squamish rider Kyle Ritchie was fifth overall.
In the cross-country event Marie-Helene Pemont of Cateau Richer, Quebec successfully defended her national title with a strong race in the mud. She had nearly three minutes on the rest of the field heading into the fourth of five laps, but temporarily lost that lead to Chrissy Redden and Karen Dewolfe when her gears got clogged with mud. After doing a little repair work, she regained the lead at the start of the last lap with her strong climbing, and finally finished the 25 km course in 2:09:21. Redden was second, almost two minutes back, and Dewolfe third less than six minutes back.
Alison Sydor bowed out of the nationals this year to take part in Vancouvers Superweek Series, a week of road racing with events in Delta, Gastown and White Rock.
In the mens cross-country championships, Abbotsford rider Ricky Federau claimed his first national title on the 30 km course in 2:11:38. He was followed by Peter Wedge of New Brunswick and Victorias Andrew Kyle, who were 3:17 and 4:08 back of the leader respectively. Whistlers Will Routley was a DNF in that race.
James Crowe finished ninth overall, eight and a half minutes back of the leader, in the Junior Expert Men 17-18 category.
The nationals didnt have any bearing on Olympic selections this year, but they will be considered by the Canadian Cycling Association when it picks a team for the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in Germany this September. The top elite and junior finishers from the nationals will automatically be selected for the national team, as will the athletes with the best World Cup, NORBA and Canada Cup results.