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Canadian XC National Championship

Jul 17, 2016
by Antoine Caron  
Canadian XC National Championship

The picturesque town of Baie-Saint-Paul has been hosting Canada Cup races for several years now. This year though, the small town and its rocky, bumpy and rooty course are hosting the big one: the race that decides who gets to don the maple leaf jersey. Racers and fans alike are always welcomed with smiles and open arms by the locals here, and this year was no different. The course, which was already very demanding technically and physically, has been tweaked to make it more spectacular and spectator friendly.

The elite men's race promised to be a nail-biter, and it did not disappoint. Raphael Gagne was clearly superior to his Canadian rivals earlier this season, but hasn't quite been showing the same form in the last few races. Leandre Bouchard, on the other hand, has been on a roll recently. As for Derek Zandstra, his recent exclusion from the Olympic team gave him a point to prove.

On the women's side of things, with Catharine Pendrel missing out this weekend, it looked like Emily Batty was going to dominate. She did end up taking the win, but it wasn't without a fight.

Not sure why Gershom Morris the Scott 3-Rox mechanic is so angry this morning. Bad hair day perhaps
  Not sure why Gershom Morris, the Scott 3-Rox mechanic, is so angry this morning. Bad hair day perhaps?

Cotton wool with Albas oil makes you look weird works great.
  Cotton wool with Albas oil; makes you look weird, works great.

Canadian XC National Championship
  Emily Handford, moments before the gun goes off.

Maybe sticking your tongue out is the key to getting the holeshot... It certainly worked for Sophianne Samson. She ended the day with a 2nd place in the junior category only a handful of seconds behind winner Emily Handford.
  Maybe sticking your tongue out is the key to getting the holeshot... It certainly worked for Sophianne Samson. She ended the day with a 2nd place in the junior category, only a handful of seconds behind winner Emily Handford.

Raphael Gagne gets the holeshot.
  Raphael Gagne gets the holeshot.

Bouchard was fresh off his best-ever World Cup finish with an 18th place in Lenzerheide last weekend.
  Bouchard was fresh off his best-ever World Cup finish, with 18th place in Lenzerheide last weekend.

Emily Batty and Sandra Walter broke away early and rode together until Batty s pace became too much for Walter.
  Emily Batty and Sandra Walter broke away early and rode together until Batty's pace became too much for Walter.

Haley Smith trying to stay in contact with the leading duo.
  Haley Smith trying to stay in contact with the leading duo.

Geoff Kabush through the trees.
  Geoff Kabush through the trees.

No time to look at the flowers for Sandra Walter.
  No time to look at the flowers for Sandra Walter.

Sandra Walter doing her best to stay in touch with Emily Batty.
  Sandra Walter doing her best to stay in touch with Emily Batty.

Frederique Trudel had a tough start to her race riding in 8th on the first lap but steadily made her way up the field to finish in second place.
  Frederique Trudel had a tough start to her race, riding in 8th on the first lap, but steadily made her way up the field to finish in second place.

Gagne dictating the pace on the first lap.
  Gagne started out strong and was among the leading quartet early on, consisting of himself, Bouchard, Zandstra, and Kabush.

Haley Smith was hoping for more today. Still 4th place at a national championship is far from embarrassing.
  Haley Smith was hoping for more today. Still, 4th place at a national championship is far from embarrassing.

Raphael Auclair leading the U23 race on the second lap. He had a crash one lap later and lost contact with the front group. He finished the day in 4th.
  Raphael Auclair leading the U23 race on the second lap. He had a crash one lap later and lost contact with the front group. He finished the day in 4th.

Derek Zandstra and Leandre Bouchard rode together for almost the entire race. Zandstra attacked on the last lap got a gap on Bouchard and held it all the way to the finish.
  Derek Zandstra and Leandre Bouchard rode together for almost the entire race. Zandstra attacked on the last lap, got a gap on Bouchard and held it all the way to the finish.

Jeremy Martin has had some impressive results lately. He was riding in 4th place by mid-race and looking comfortable. Unfortunately for him late surges from both Raphael Gagne and Davis Ross relegated him to a 6th place on the day.
  Jeremy Martin has had some impressive results lately. He was riding in 4th place by mid-race and looking comfortable. Unfortunately for him, late surges from both Raphael Gagne and Davis Ross relegated him to a 6th place on the day.

Derek Zandstra had a point to prove this weekend after his recent exclusion from the Olympic team.
  Derek Zandstra had a point to prove this weekend, after his recent exclusion from the Olympic team.

Point proven for Derek Zandstra.
  Point proven for Derek Zandstra.

What are you supposed to do when you realize that you won t be able to sprint for third place Raphael Gagne says throw a whip.
  What are you supposed to do when you realize that you won't be able to sprint for third place ? Raphael Gagne says: throw a whip.

Tough day at the office for Raphael Gagne. Many people marked him as the favourite for the win but he had to settle for 4th. Win some lose some as they say.
  Tough day at the office for Raphael Gagne. Many people marked him as the favourite for the win, but he had to settle for 4th. Win some, lose some, as they say.

Jeremy Martin crossing the line in 6th.
  Jeremy Martin crossing the line in 6th.

Batty and Walter celebrating.
  Batty and Walter celebrating.


MENTIONS: @LargeFries



18 Comments

  • + 3
 Anyone got a link for the full results?
  • + 2
 www.canadiancyclist.com
  • + 9
 www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=31454&title=mtb-xc-championships-full-results-all-categories

Emily Batty won the elite women national XC title...out of a field of 13.... the winning man won from a field of 26...its a sad sign of the state of XC racing in canada when our nationals only attract 1-2 dozen riders per category.
  • + 1
 @deeeight: agreed. I think the numbers were in the hundreds when we had a Canadians at Apex? In the mid nineties. I think even in my veterans (35+) we had around 40 or so.
  • + 4
 Perhaps if a certain website released all the dates of events ahead of time, the masses might be able to find out about more events. Or just call it Lycra Enduro.
  • + 4
 @deeeight: Less riders but I'd definitely say a faster front of the field with the level of racing in Canada
  • + 2
 I think everyone also needs to remember the variety of biking disciplines there are these days in comparison to what used to be. I too remember OCup races with elite classes having 3-4 flights which included anywhere from 50-60 riders in each one. I feel the available variety in biking has lead to a dispersion of riders into disciplines that suit their taste. Personally as much as I used to race XC, if the opportunity was there for "Ontario" enduro would be fun to race, thus we race small DH stuff like the East Coast Open and a variety of smaller events. I am finding the World Cup XC trails these days to be much more technical than they used to be as well, it's a good mix of Lycra Enduro :-).

One question I have is as much as the article talks about who's wearing the "maple leaf", who's actually representing Canada in Rio? The guy that won the race (Derek Z.) apparently didn't get invited to be on the Olympic Team, so I'm confused. Anyway the guys will try, but the men's field really has no chance to medal, but for the ladies, Catherine and Emily surely have a big opportunity in front of them. Does anyone know who's confirmed to ride? All the athletes no matter what sport seem to have some indecision about attending.

Emily, Catherine, are you attending?
  • + 1
 @ruckusrider74: Catharine and Emily are both representing Canada in the womens mountain biking category. They've got a good shot at making some history.
  • + 1
 @spicytuna: awesome thanks for the info...
  • + 1
 @ruckusrider74: leandre bouchard and Raphael gagne were selected based on previous selection races
  • + 3
 @deeeight: XCO is hard. Just doesn't sound as impressive around the water cooler at work telling co-workers that you only rode 30-40km and lost 3minutes per lap. Easier to finish with the pack in a gran fondo. I'm not sure about the new courses either, I prefer going out into the woods and riding 8-12km of high quality singletrack, rather than 5-6km of "spectator friendly" with awkward man made features thrown in.
  • + 1
 State of the XCo is that you need EXTREME commitment to get to this level. In the nineties, a regular racer who liked to ride their bike a lot could hang with many of the big guns, now, it's impossible for the regular guy who isn't a 9-5 Bike racer to get at that level.

which is why Enduro and other types of racing are becoming more popular(ie marathons where theres 1000 racers on the start line)

Who wants to enter a XCO as an elite and finish dead last 25 mins after the last guy? lol
  • + 1
 @ruckusrider74: I totally agree that comparing the numbers with the mid 90s cannot lead to the right answers. I believe to that there is as much mtb rider as there used to be, but they are spreaded out and not all attending to races (any kind). Any sports follows a popularity cycle, mid 90s was the first peak, mid 2000s was a lower point, in my region we are on a rise and approaching a peak maybe. XC racing is not helping its cause though. To get better media coverage and get bigger sponsors, the olympic race is now set at 1h30. So any races in that discipline will have the same time now for the elite field to train them to be able to put the same kind of effort. Any category under the elites race less time. A race weekend use to cost me between 200$ and 300$, some time I was racing for 1h00 in the expert cat... So I left racing and I'm not the only one. On an other subject, the Olympics motivate kids to get into sports. But is it really worth what we invest in it... 255M$ in athlete development for the Rio games (olympics and para-lympics), only in the sports with medal chances. And this only one of the wrong thing about O.G. Still want to wish the best success to Emily, Catherine, Leandre and Raphael, may your wish come true.
  • + 3
 Congrats Derek ! You deserve that win.. Terry V
  • + 2
 Yeah @Pinkbike, good to see some sweet coverage of XC.
  • + 2
 Great coverage Tony!
  • + 1
 Awesome photos, Antoine!
  • - 3
 Emily F*cking Batty

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