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Western Canada Summer Games 2015 Wood Buffalo Recap: Road TT, Road Race, XC Eliminator, XCO

Cycling BC athletes descended upon Fort McMurray last Thursday afternoon looking to dominate the podium and show the rest of the western provinces the west coast is the best coast. Those goals were definitely accomplished by the Cycling BC athletes.

My expectations for the games were to medal in the Road Race event, and while I missed out on that goal and finished 5th I was able to get 3rd in the Time Trial. I felt determined going into the time trial event, and with good execution of warm up and preparation I was able to have a good ride for 3rd place. While the road race result was lower than expected, each member of the team worked hard perfectly to keep the gold medal within our reach until the final kilometers.

– Jackson Pickell

The Road TT saw Erin Attwell, Kelsey MacDonald and Emily Handford take the podium on a fairly technical TT course featuring some tight turns in the residential areas and a long sustained climb as well. The men went two and three with Brendan Armstrong and Jackson Pickell, respectively. The road race was more of a circuit race on the TT course, with the men and women doing 6 laps. The women spent a good portion of the race together until Emily Handford attacked on the hill of the 5th lap, with Erin Atwell chasing her down in the technical residential area and out into the flats before catching her. At this time, the girls realized they’d made a break that was likely to stick if they could work together for the final lap, which they did. Again, the BC ladies swept the podium with Erin Attwell in 1st, Emily Handford in 2nd, and Kelsey MacDonald securing the bronze medal.

I had one main goal for these Western Canada Summer Games, to leave it all out on the line for each race. I wasn’t allowed to hold back in any of the races, and by the last race I really didn’t have any more matches left over. Looking back at all of my races I was really impressed and pleased with all my results, but I also know what I need to work on now for next year. I would also like to thank everyone who helped getting me to the WCSGs, without your support I wouldn’t of had as great of an experience.

– Kelsey MacDonald

The men’s race was a bit more active from the get go, with a solid solo break taking place within the first few kilometers by a Manitoba rider. Several of the BC athletes attacked one after another trying to shake some of the riders and thin out the pack, but nothing stuck and the other provinces weren’t interested in doing the work. Brendan Armstrong suffered a busted crank and had to ride the last lap with his pedals at 6 and 2 (rather than 6 and 12). Jackson Pickell managed to get into the sprint for the line as our top BC finisher in 5th.

The games were a great experience, I learned lots of new things and it was fun to have multiple disciplines in one event. My expectations for the games was to try my best and see how I did, and I thought it went pretty well. Up next for me is a little break and then Cross season–my first race is Alberta cup on September 7th.

– Kellen Viznaugh

For the XC Eliminator each athlete had a qualifying run against the clock to both qualify and seed them for the elimination. It was a short track running just under a minute for the boys and just over a minute for the girls with some flat grassy turns, which claimed a few victims.   Stephanie Denroche had an impressive run, consistently winning all of her heats landing her in the final and just narrowly missing out on the top step to teammate, Emily Handford, with Kelsey MacDonald earning the bronze medal. The boys saw Luke Di Marzo and Sean Fincham in the finals with Sean taking the gold and Luke the bronze.

It felt amazing to have such a consistent day! I had no idea how it would go never doing an XC Eliminator before. I think the downhill training I have been doing and the starts have helped me a lot! I have not competed in a group of girls much more than 5 before so to be in a race with such hard competition and still doing well made me excited. I wanted to win the gold very badly but going in I knew I was up against the best of the group and it would not be easy. I was trying too keep a clear head and just focus on doing the race the way I did the other ones. I was so happy to get on the podium in such a prestigious event! It was great that I had all clean races and finish with a 2nd.

– Stephanie Denroche

The XC race saw Sean Fincham take the hole shot, and never looked back. Not only did he capture the gold medal, he took the overall GC gold medal, moving up 7 spots in the final race. Luke Di Marzo narrowly missed out on the podium with a 4th place finish. Brendan Armstrong had an incredible ride to a sixth place finish in his second XC race ever.

It felt great to break away early in XCO the race. The plan was to have a fast start and try and break away early, I’m very pleased it worked out that way. I can’t believe I got the overall GC. I knew it was going to be difficult because of all the fast roadies from the previous two events and my mistake in the XCE qualifier the day before leaving me in 7th place. The XCO was my only chance to open up a big enough gap to win the GC. It was in the plan but when it actually worked out I couldn’t believe it.

– Sean Fincham

I was super stoked! It was a surprise at first when I found myself near the front after a strong start, but the further I got into the race the more I found that I could keep up on the descents and put time in on the climbs because of my road background. It inspires me to try other types of riding; I had fun and found a strength in a type of riding I had not raced before. I am excited to possibly try racing mountain bikes as cross training for road.

– Brendan Armstrong

The girl’s race had a similar start with Emily Handford taking the hole shot and not looking back, dominating the race finishing over 2 minutes in front of 2nd place winner, Kelsey MacDonald. Erin Attwell and Angela Law each had an impressive race to 5th and 12th respectively in their second mountain bike race ever. 

I definitely had Worlds training in mind during my race today, and had plenty of sideline encouragement during the race using Worlds practice as motivation. The course at worlds has a lot of climbing, and is at altitude so over the next few weeks I’m going to be spending a lot of time going uphill on my bike. Going into the games I had a goal of winning the XC race and podium in the GC but I didn’t expect to be coming home with 5 medals, 3 being gold. I definitely went beyond my goals this week!

– Emily Handford

Cycling BC is incredibly proud of the results achieved by the team, capturing of 21 of 30 medals. The women’s team swept 3 of the four podiums, 1-2-3, earning 14 of the 15 medals available in their category.

Overall I would call these games a success. The team worked well together on and off the bike to put us on the podium in every discipline. The highlight of the games for me was the road race where we worked well as a team to achieve the best result possible.

– Luke Di Marzo

It was incredible to see such a diverse group of athletes come together to achieve some impressive results. The drive and determination from the road focused athletes to conquer the XC course and for the XC focused athletes to hang on in the road athletes was inspiring. BC’s future is looking very bright–congratulations everyone!

– Tara Mowat, Manager


Results from the Western Canada Summer Games 2015 Wood Buffalo can be found here.

Team BC Cyclists at the pep Rally
Erin Attwell, Kelsey MacDonald and Emily Handford going 1-2-3.
One of the many golds
Opening Ceremonies
Brendan Armstrong on the TT track
Brendan Armstrong and Jackson Pickell taking the Silver and Bronze medal in the TT
The girls gearing up for the Road Race
Erin Attwell, Emily Handford and Kelsey MacDonald going 1-2-3 again
The ladies lining up for the XCE award presentations
Emily Handford, Stephanie Denroche and Kelsey MacDonald going 1-2-3 in te XCE
Sean Fincham and Luke Di Marzo taking the gold and bronze in the XCE
The men gearing up for the XCO
The Team!
Sean Fincham taking the gold in the XCO
Emily Handford and Kelsey MacDonald going 1-2 in the XCO
The GC Podium with Emily Handford and Sean Fincham taking the Gold, Kelsey MacDonald taking the silver and Erin Attwell taking the bronze.