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2016 Canadian XCO/XCE Championships

The 2016 Canadian Mountain Bike Championships kicked off this past Thursday with the XC Eliminator. The eliminator race is an elimination style race and a crowd favourite. Riders start the day off with a race against the clock for seeding, followed by heats of 4 riders on a 1 km course where the top two riders proceed to the next heat and the last two are eliminated. BC had a strong showing, with Rhys Verner taking the national XCE title in the men’s race and Julia Long taking the silver medal in the women’s. Julia has this to say about her race:

I really focused on having a good starts and getting the hole shot, which ultimately limited the potential for any crashing. I knew I needed to put it all out there for each heat if I wanted a chance to make the final round. Overall I was very happy with my racing and am excited to stand on the podium for Nationals.

The XCO race took place Saturday. It was an exciting race for the men and the women, who completed three laps of the 6 km course. In the junior men’s race Quinten Disera from Ontario and BC’s Sean Fincham battled it out right to the end until Sean launched an attack that stuck in the last lap giving him the win by 10 seconds and taking the coveted maple leaf jersey home.  First year junior Nick Kleban had a personal best with a top 10 finish, followed by 2nd year junior, Max McCullouch in 13th.  In the junior women’s race Sophie Ann from Quebec and BC’s Emily Handford also duked it out through the 3 lap race keeping things close until the last lap, where Emily was able to keep her lead, out-sprinting Sophie Anne Samson to the line and taking the win by 3 seconds. Whistler’s Julia Long also had a season best race finishing 6th in a strong field.

Emily had this to say about her race:

It felt really good to have achieved my goals this past weekend at Nationals, especially after falling short at Worlds. I got to have a tough battle of a race against Sophi Anne Samson, and had to work very hard to stay ahead. The course was very similar to my home trails, which I think gave me a slight advantage and was partly what helped me race my way to the National Champion Jersey. It was especially exciting when I found out Sean had also won his race, meaning BC had secured both junior titles that day.

The Cadet men’s 3 lap race was  hard fight for both Holden Jones and Elliot Jamieson. Holden spent most of the race in 2nd and 3rd place before two riders launched an attack and overtook him through the feed zone. Holden thought he could reel them back in, but in the end it wasn’t enough to get him on the podium, but a solid 5th place finish. Jamieson had a crash early on in the race tearing his shifter off his bike leaving him in a low gear making the climbs and technical sections even more challenging. Having made the big trek from BC Elliot knew he couldn’t give up and muscled his way through the course.
Elliot had this to say about his race:

Come race day I feel like I had the head and the legs to get a good result.  Unfortunately, early in the race, another racer crashed just in front of me taking me down with him, which is where I broke my shifter. It was a great experience to be out here, spending time with the team and learning from everyone.  I’m really excited for next weeks race and for some off season training.  I’m looking to be back out here next year as a 2nd year cadet and to put my skills to the test.

Sunday’s racing kicked off with Emilly Johnston in the minime category (U15).  A tough start had her sampling some of the Quebec dirt putting her at the back of the pack right from the get go.  She fought hard, picking her way to the leader in the two-lap race, ultimately missing the top step by less than 10 seconds.  The second race of the day was the team relay, where BC entered three teams.  The relay is a four-lap race with each of the four members doing one lap.  Cycling BC team “A”, which was compromised of Quinn Moberg, Sean Fincham, Emily Handford and Geoff Kabush, had a great race, narrowly missing out on the top step and taking the bronze medal.  Tara Mowat, High Performance Coordinator, had this to say about the weekend:

We’re incredibly happy with how the team performed at nationals this year.  We worked hard this year, training through most of the Canada Cups earlier on in the season, and that clearly paid off this weekend. The mental strength, resilience, and sportsmanship that many of the athletes demonstrated this weekend was impressive. The next race for the BC team is this weekend in St. Felicien.

Click here for full results from the Canadian Cross-country Mountain Bike Championships.

Practicing starts
Rhys dominating his eliminator heats
Standing starts for the XCE
Rhys taking the XCE title and Julia taking the bronze
XCE National Champion Rhys Verner
Jr. Womens start line
Apres race catch up
Post race smiles
2016 XCO National Champion Emily Handford
2016 XCO National Champion Sean Fincham
Emilly Johnston taking the silver in U15
Celebrating the maple leaf jerseys
Handford tagging Kabush in for the relay
Cycling BC taking the bronze in the relay