ISN – (Sun Peaks, BC – July 16, 2014) The 2014 Canadian Mountain Bike Downhill Championships took place at the Sun Peaks Resort on Sunday. Canada’s Steve Smith of Nanaimo, BC (Devinci Global Racing) and Vaea Verbeek of North Vancouver, BC (Intense/GoPro) won the elite titles, while Daniel Shaw of North Vancouver, BC won the junior men title.
Smith, the overwhelming favorite in today’s race, impressed the crowd with a speedy run of 3:26.73, a narrow 1.5-second lead over Kyle Sangers of Kingston, ON in second place and a small 2.5-second lead over Remi Gauvin of Nanoose Bay, BC in third place.
“It was a lot for me this year, especially coming back from injury in the spring and going straight to racing the World Cup. This was a great race for me to come and just go fast, putting some good time on the bike. The track was great,” said Smith after the race.
Smith won his career second Canadian title and will be keeping the coveted Maple Leaf sleeve around the world. “With the pressure of winning last year, I didn’t want to throw that sleeve away. I wanted to win again this year, and it feels great to do it.”
“This track was very technical in its own way, just because how fast it is. There are no roots or very technical sections, so the line choice is what separated the group. It was just a bunch of berms and going very fast. When you go very fast, it’s hard to create separation. It’s a fine line to go a little bit quicker then everybody without blowing up in that loose dirt,” added Smith about the tight time differences seen this year in comparison with the 2013 edition.
In terms of season goals, Steve Smith’s objectives have changed after missing the opening World Cup events due to an injury in the spring. In 2013, Smith won the UCI World Cup overall title. “It changed in the overall thoughts. I can’t win the overall this year. For me, now it’s just able to race as good as I can. The first two World Cup races were good to see where I was at. I want to be able to finish this season the way I left off, to be able to win races and contend for the win.”
VAEA VERBEECK WINS WOMEN RACE AFTER TWO MONTHS OFF THE BIKE
In the women’s race, Vaea Verbeeck was the fastest of the women’s group, taking the title and the sleeve. Verbeeck excelled in the timed session on Saturday and maintained her speed through to the Championships race. Verbeeck, who won her first Canadian title, finished first with a time of 3:56.00. Casey Brown of Revelstoke, BC came in second, while Jaime Hill of Pemberton, BC finished in third place.
Verbeeck was thrilled with the results. “This is a relatively unexpected victory, and I am extremely happy. Arriving this weekend, I saw that the start list was missing some of the Canadian girls. So I totally gave myself a goal to win the title,” confessed Verbeeck, which came back on the saddle just last week from two months of inactivity after lacerating her liver.
“I did not have many expectations as to my performance coming back from injury just last week, and I think that’s what helped me this weekend. I just wanted to ride, and go as fast as possible. I was eager to ride this very fast course. Yesterday, I won the seeding with a good margin, which gave me a good boost of confidence in today’s race,” added the rider from Granby, QC, who has been living in British Columbia for the past two years.
Verbeeck will, for the next twelve months, wear the sleeve designating her as a Canadian champion. “I never had the honor to wear the national champion jersey. The next year will undoubtedly be quite a different experience. I am confident that my results will follow at the World Cup level. My main goal this season is to break the top 10 at the World Cup, and I hope that the sleeve will give me a little boost.”
DANIEL SHAW STEPS UP ON RACE DAY TO TAKE JUNIOR TITLE
Daniel Shaw stepped up on race day in the junior men (U19) category to take the coveted Canadian title. After posting the third fastest time of the seeding session on Saturday, Shaw improved two ranks on Sunday by posting a fast time of 3:39.66. Jack Iles of Whistler, BC, fastest in the seeding run, posted the second fastest time on Championship day, just 0:00.11 behind the winning time of Shaw, while Max Scharf of Salmon Arm, BC crossed the finish line in third place.
The championships also featured races in cadet and master categories. Magnus Manson of Sechelt, BC was crowned in the cadet men (U17) category by posting the fastest time of 3:35.13 while Stephanie Denroche of Whistler, BC took the cadet women (U17) title with a time of 4:50.87.
Steve Storey of Whistler, BC (Master 30-39), Bryan Gioia of Port Moody, BC (Master 40-49), Michael Mooney of North Vancouver, BC (Master 50+) all won their respective races in the men’s master categories, while Keara Clark of Squamish, BC was the fastest among the master women.
The Canadian Championships is the most important one-day race of the season for the top Canadian downhillers, with the highly-coveted Maple Leaf Jersey and sleeve on the line. The National Champion jersey is a symbol of pride and achievement and is what drives many cyclists in their competitive career.
The Downhill race took place on a very fast course of 2.6 kilometers in length. Riders first tacked the aptly named “DH” trail, relatively steep descent winding in and out of sub-alpine forest offering steeps, fast and flowing berms, and some singletrack. “Holy Rollers” was the next section, offering a more mellow grade that forced pedalling to reach maximum velocity. This wider section featured multiple berms and small hits along the way leaving riders to balance speed and style, leading in to the final section of the course. The notorious “Arm Pump” was the most technical section of the course. Flowing singletrack with some roots, rocks, and some berms and drops kept speeds up as riders raced towards the finish line.