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Pendrel wins last World Championships before the Olympics to conclude “best season ever”

(Champéry, SUI – September 3, 2011) Canadian mountain biker Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, British Columbia, who grew up in Harvey Station, New Brunswick was crowned World Champion on Saturday in the Olympic disciple of cross-country at the 2011 International Cycling Union (UCI) Mountain Bike World Championships in Champéry, Switzerland.

Pendrel (Team Luna Pro), the favourite entering the event as the #1-ranked rider in the World, crossed the finish line after 31.8 kilometres of racing with a time of 1:46:14, and in doing so retains her status as the best in the World.

“It’s marvellous. I am so happy that I finally won a medal at World Championships. Not only it’s a medal, but it’s a Gold one. It was awesome, with lots of people cheering alongside the entire course,” said Pendrel, 31. “I really like this course, I really like the terrain. I think it’s a challenging course. I knew I could put it together here. The relay was really good confidence for me with the fastest lap for the women.”

Canada’s Alison Sydor was the last Canadian women to win the World Championships title in the cross-country discipline, back in 1996. Sydor is still Canada’s greatest women mountain biker with 10 World Championships medal, including three World titles.

“Welcome home, stripes!” I was probably the most nervous I have ever been before a race. I knew I was ready, I knew I had done all my preparations. The support has been amazing from Team Luna, Team Canada, and Own the podium who helps out a lot of the athletes and the program.  I was just tried to control the nerves, and my Canadian teammates were just awesome in keep me grounded.

Cindy Devine won a World Title in the Elite downhill category in 1990, while Lauren Rosser won the World title in the women’s junior downhill race last season.

Pendrel was fourth at last year’s World Championships in Canada, and fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games. This season, Pendrel finished second of the UCI World Cup Tour, posting three victories and two silver medals in seven races, as well as winning the Hadleigh Farm Invitational, in Essex, the 2012 Olympic test event.

Pendrel first took part in World Championships in 2004, where she finished 46th. Since then, she went on to the 2007 Pan-American Games, the 2008 Pan-American Championships and the 2010 UCI World Cup title.

Throughout her career, Pendrel has 16 World Cup podiums, including eight victories, as well as winning the last three Canadian Championships titles.

Emily Batty of Brooklin, ON (Team Subaru-Trek), was racing for the first time in the Elite category at World Championships, finishing in eighth position. Batty conlcudes an excellent season, progressing steadily race after race to finish in eighth position of the World Cup rankings.

Marie-Hélène Prémont of Chateau Richer, QC (Team Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) crossed the finish line in ninth position, 5:01 seconds behind Pendrel’s winning time. Prémont, a former UCI World Cup Champion, ranked fourth at the conclusion of the 2011 UCI World Cup Tour this year. Prémont, a pharmacist by profession in Mont-Sainte-Anne who is currently doing her apprenticeship, was happy with her performance.

“It was a difficult race as I was fighting a back injury. During training I crashed and a bottle of CO2 (used for tire inflation) exploded in my back pocket, and that incident almost made me miss this race. My legs felt really good throughout the entire race,” said the 2004 Olympic silver medallist and 2006 World Championships bronze medallist.

Canada’s women program is ranked #1 in the world, largely thanks to the World Cup performances from Pendrel, Prémont and Batty. Today, Canada posted three results in the Top 10, showcasing Canada’s strengths.

Jean-Ann Berkenpass finished 30th, followed by Catherine Vipond in 31st position. Amanda Sin finished the tough race in 38th position.

In the men’s race, Geoff Kabush of Courtenay, BC (Team Rocky Mountain-Maxxis), a seven-time Canadian Champion and Olympian, finished his race in tenth position, in a field that included 2008 Olympic champion and four-time World Champion Julien Absalon of France, the defending World Champion Jose Antonio Hermida-Ramos of Spain, the 2011 World Cup Champion Jaroslav Kuhalev and former World Champion Nino Schurter to name a few.

In doing so, Kabush, a long-time veteran of the sport and performer on the big day, posted his best result of the season. Last year at Worlds, Kabush had also posted his best finish of the season.

Canadian champion Max Plaxton of Victoria, BC (Team Specialized Factory) posted the second best Canadian performance, finishing in 22nd position with a time of 1:52:53. Last year, Plaxton finished 39th at the World Championships.

Derek Zandstra of Trenton, ON (3-Rox Racing) also posted a great result, crossing the line in the 26th position.