Photo Epic presented by ODI
The results are in from the first stage of the weekend in Whistler and as always there was plenty of drama to be had high on the mountain. With a descent of over five thousand feet and totaling 20 minutes or more, plenty can go wrong. Just one stage to start the weekend in Whistler, but those statistics are more in line with a full day of racing at any other venue. Add ever changing weather to the mix and you have a recipe for a proper nail biter
The women's race was able to dodge the incoming storms, and while a bit windy and chilly high on Whistler peak, it was mostly a dry and sunny affair. Not surprising at all would be Isabeau Courdurier taking the lead, but by how much (or little) was the real story. We have come to expect large time gaps in the women's race and on a stage as long as Top of the World, it was a pleasant surprise to see the top four within 25 seconds of each other once the dust had settled. Sunday's five stages are no walk in the park either, and with small margins separating the top ladies, the race is very much up for grabs. You can be sure Noga Korem, Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau, and Katy Winton will be feeling confident as they take the fight to Isabeau.
For the men, it would be a Yeti Cycles one-two punch by Richie Rude and Shawn Neer at the front of the field. Former Whistler local Josh Carlson took third. Richie has a history of crushing the long Top of the World stage and he has used his strengths there to come from behind and win on two occasions in Whistler. He was the odds on favorite to kick things off today, but to do so by a dominating 33 seconds was mind boggling. With rain moving in on the riders during their runs, there were a few surprise faces at the front of the order - and a lot of big-name contenders much further down. Most notably, series leader Florian Nicolai and current number two, Eddie Masters. Both failed to land inside the top ten.
Sunday will be a new day and there's still a lot of racing to do in Whistler. History tells us that it's never over until it's over on these iconic trails. On more than a few occasions, disaster has struck riders down at the very last minute. The fight is on, so be sure to check back tomorrow for all the action from the final five stages here in Whistler.