The B.C. Bike Race is underway and building towards another exciting finish in Whistler, as the first of seven stages kicked off in Cumberland on Canada Day (July 1).
Whistler hosts the last day of racing for the sold-out field of 500 riders representing 33 countries, with a winner to be determined at the Whistler Olympic Plaza finish line on Saturday (July 7).
Neal Kindree won the Whistler stage last year, and the Squamish resident was in good position after Day 1 on Sunday. Early reports put him in second place behind Barry Wicks, while two-time defending champ Chris Sheppard sat third.
Whistler's Michael Robinson and Brackendale's Matteo Abel are among other Sea to Sky corridor riders taking part this week, while World Cup alpine star Manuel Osborne-Paradis is on a team of two again this year.
Andreas Hestler, both a competitor and the event's director of marketing, said he's impressed with the strength of the field and happy to see such high international participation in the race's sixth year.
"We've got 33 countries showing some serious interest in riding our B.C. singletrack and it's pretty heavily stacked," said the former Olympian.
The race continues Sunday in Campbell River before five days in different North Shore and Sea to Sky corridor communities.
Whistler course designer Grant Lamont has set a new route for this year that features trails in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and the Lost Lake section.
"We couldn't do justice to (the trails) of Lower Mainland B.C. if we didn't have them do as much time as possible in the Lost Lake area," said Hestler.
Organizers have introduced a new element this year with a total of 12 Gravity Enduro timed sections scattered across the seven courses.
Riders will begin the last stage at 9 a.m. from the Village on Saturday, with the top finishers expected to arrive at the plaza around 11 a.m.
See www.bcbikerace.com for full details, and pick up Thursday's (July 5) edition of The Question for more coverage.