ISN -(Barrie, ON – July 20, 2014) Canadian mountain bike legend and three-time Olympian Geoff Kabush of Courtenay, BC (Scott-3 Rox Racing) was crowned the men elite champion at the 2014 Canadian Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships at Hardwood Ski and Bike in Oro-Medonte, near Barrie, ON.
In doing so, Kabush became the most decorated mountain biker of all time at Canadian Championships, earning his eighth elite title in cross-country. He surpassed Alyson Sydor, who has seven titles to her credit.
In addition to his cross-country races, he won four cyclo-cross title, and became the most decorated cyclist of the US Cup Series.
The Championship races today featured all of Canada’s top mountain bikers assembled to race for the ultimate honor, and the racing certainly did not disappoint. The top group of riders expected to perform raced well and were in the hunt to the finish line.
Evan Guthrie and Cameron Jette (Scott-3Rox Racing) both started like a bullet in the first few moments of the race, and took an early lead from the front of the pack.
Right behind the two leaders were Canada’s top riders including Kabush, defending Canadian Champion Derek Zandstra of Trenton, ON (Scott-3 Rox Racing), Max Plaxton of Victoria, BC (Cannondale Factory Racing) and Raphael Gagné of Québec, QC (Rocky Mountain bicycles).
Jette and Guthrie managed to maintain the lead for most of the race, but Jette suffered from a jammed chain and Guthrie slowly running out of steam. This opened the door for the chase group to bridge the gap.
Gagné attacked the exhausted Guthrie and Jette, and led the race in the fifth lap. That’s when Kabush and Zandstra worked together to close in on Gagné, and set the table for the finish. Ultimately, Kabush had lots left in the tank and made the winning move in the last kilometers, to take the title. Teammate Derek Zandstra finished second, while Raphael Gagné took the third place.
“It feels really satisfying. It was really an enjoyable race, and especially great to see the level of riders. I’ll be really proud to represent the maple leaf at the World Cups. It was our goal to keep the jersey in the team, and it was really great to see the whole team ride strong,” said Kabush after winning his eighth title.
But when asked about the feat of becoming the most decorated rider in history, Kabush remained grounded and humbled: “Numbers are numbers. It’s most gratifying to wear the jersey again. A big thanks to all our sponsors. They have provided awesome support to the team. It’s another jersey for the tickle-trunk, but most importantly I’ll be really proud to wear the Maple Leaf once more around the world.”
“It was an exciting finish, with so many guys together in the last lap. I saved a little bit of that mental energy for the last push. I just had to put my head down. I was in the chase group all day, and we weren’t letting up. It was also see great to see Cameron [Jette] out there riding well. Bummer for him, he had a mechanical as he was riding really well. He gave me and Derek the confidence to ride our own pace. The gap stretched out, but we were keeping it in check. When we saw Cameron on the side of the trail, Derek and I knew it was now our responsibility to get up there,” said Kabush about the race.
LÉANDRE BOUCHARD WINS THIRD CANADIAN U23 TITLE
In the U23 race, a tight race within the very competitive group featuring some of the best. Mitchell Bailey of Barrie, ON (Trek Canada Mountain Bike), Léandre Bouchard of Alma, QC (Equipe du Québec-Cyclone d’Alma), Antoire Caron of Stoneham, QC, Evan McNeely of Kingston, ON (Norco Factory Team) and local star Peter Disera of Barrie, ON (Norco Factory Team) were all favorites to contend for the title.
Léandre Bouchard took the title of the intense battle, taking his second title of the week after winning the Eliminator on Thursday. Bouchard who will be moving to the elite category next year, won three of the four titles throughout his career in the U23 category, winning in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
“I’m really happy to take the title in cross-country. It’s really a pride for me. Canadian Championships is the race of the year in Canada. This results will remain close to my heart for all my life,” said Bouchard after the race.
“It was a big goal for me this season, and I succeeded. We have a good group of riders in the espoir category in Canada. The course was very good this year, with a new school style which includes many artificial obstacles. It requires a lot of technical skills. These are very nice facilities left for the community here to enjoy.”
In second place came the defending Canadian champion and local rider Mitchell Baily of Barrie, ON (Trek Canada MTB team), and Felix Burke of Mont-Tremblant, QC (Opus-OGC) finished third.
FORTIER FASTEST JUNIOR
Marc-André Fortier of Victoriaville, QC was the fastest among the junior men, posting a time of 1:09:28, beating at the finish line Rhys Verner of Garibaldi Highlands, BC (Cycling BC) and Felix Burke of Mont-Tremblant, QC (Opus-OGC). Fortier is currently leading the Canada Cup series.
“This is a good day. My legs were great today. After the first two minutes, I had a gap of 5-10 seconds, and I managed to widen the gap throughout the race. I was not sure if they would catch me near the end, but I gave it all to finish. I’m very happy,” commented Fortier, two-time Canadian champion in the cadet category.
“Since I won last week, I came here as one of the favorite to take this race. I handled it well. It is about five guys with all the same strength. We feed off each other and challenge ourselves. The winner is different in each race. The course didn’t offer any rest period. It goes up and it goes down. It is very physical with a lot of elevation. There was many spectacular passes, and it was very fun.”
In the men cadet category, Quinton Disera of Barrie, ON successfully defended his cadet title from 2013. The rider who calls Hardwood Ski and Bike his local training centre, easily won the race by posting a time of 52:38.63. Tyler Orschel of Uxbridge, ON (Team Ontario-Trek Store CC) and Sean Fincham of Garibaldi Highlands, BC (Cycling BC) finished second and third.