Mountain bike racing is filled with opportunities and when it all clicks and you rise to the occasion on the day, it’s a special feeling. This past weekend I experienced one of the most memorable races in my 13 years of bike racing. There has been plenty of days over the years that will be forever in my mind. These are always shared with others because in bike racing it takes a team, a community, and a massive network of support for an athlete to race.
On Saturday, July 23rd in St-Felicien, Quebec it was the 5th round of the Canada Cup series. I showed up with my Norco Factory Team looking for redemption after struggling the weekend before at the National Championships, which was a big goal this year. I even opted to forgo the World Championships in preparation for this race. We prep the best we can and some days the magic just isn’t there – that was nationals but it wasn't the end of the world by any means. It's one bike race of the year and there are plenty more to chase.
Team cruise on the dirt road.
A week spent with the team preparing (while also spending hours every day preparing for a final exam for college) worked out quite nicely. Coming into this race our team had won the last three pro men’s Canada Cup races with three different athletes – Evan Mcneely, Peter Disera, and myself. There are four men on the team so we were saying all week that it was time for Andrew L’esperance to win this one. No pressure.Words can’t describe what it felt like to cross the line with buddies in our Mighty Ducks flying V formation attempt. Photo: Caroline Gautier.
On race morning we did our usual team warm up but this time, it was different. The chatter and joking ended early and we turned it into a pace line and were rolling down the road rotating through to get that fire burning. We were smiling, we were confident, and we were ready. From the gun, Norco stormed the front of the race and by the end of lap one Andrew threw down an attack that created chaos in the chase as he rode away. Mcneely and I took advantage of this and bridged up. As soon as we hit Lesperance I said "Lespy, shake 'n bake!" from there it was a team time trial. No words were said. We knew what needed to be done and secretly we knew 1-2-3 was now the goal. Photo: Caroline Gautier.
It’s quite unheard of for this many teammates to ride off together. We rode like gentleman in the race and didn’t need to use questionable tactics like some teams use to get away. We used our strength and let our legs do the talking. We don’t race dirty. On the last lap I said to the guys “Well, this is pretty neat” and then we started to chatter about being safe and calculated, to make no mistakes. In the end, Andrew rose to the occasion and took his first Canada Cup win. I followed up in second and Mcneely in third. These guys aren’t just my teammates; they’re my friends and this made it even more incredible. Peter Disera (new U23 National Champ) rode a strong race to 7th after putting in some weekly miles as he trains for a little road race called Tour of Alberta. Our lady weapon, Haley Smith took 2nd in the women's race. This finish kept the Canada Cup winning streak alive and marked four wins in a row with four different riders for Norco. It was an honour to be on the podium with four other incredible athletes, and friends, that are Jeremy Martin and Rio-bound Olympian, Leandre Bouchard.
L-R: Jeremy Martin 4th, Evan Guthrie 2nd, Andrew L’esperance 1st, Evan Mcneely 3rd, Leandre Bouchard 5th. Photo: Caroline Gautier.We said no spraying in the face but then these two both blinded me. Photo: Caroline Gautier.
The feelings of a successful day will never get old. Sharing it with everyone around you who makes it all possible is the special part. Thank you to everyone around me who rose to the occasion on this day and brought out the fight in me. Special thank you to Kevin Haviland and Josh Toohill who captained our team on this trip and my teammates; Peter Disera, Haley Smith, Andrew L’esperance, and Evan Mcneely who all helped light the fire inside. Next up: Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup, Crankworx EWS and Crankworx Canada Cup Finals. Cool down behind our Team Captain, Kevin Haviland. Photo: Jeff Faulds.
Evan Guthrie // Norco Factory Team // www.evanguthrie.com