There was likely only one event at Crankworx where Lycra was acceptable for athletes, and that was at the Canadian Cup XC Finals on Wednesday (Aug. 14). Three-time Olympian and 12-time National Champion Geoff Kabush walked away with the win, but heading into the final lap Victoria's Max Plaxton was right on his rear wheel.
“I did a bit of an attack on the first lap,” said Kabush shortly after crossing the finish line.
“(Plaxton) was really strong, he bridged up to me and unfortunately my teammate (Derek Zandstra) couldn't quite catch him. I was really strong the whole day and hoping (Zandstra) could ride up to us, but he got a flat.”
The Scott 3 Rox racing team are known for having one of the stronger teams on the XC circuit, its riders able to cooperate and wear down the competition with timed attacks. This strategy worked at the Nationals event in Ontario back in July, where Zandstra managed to clinch victory over Kabush and Plaxton.
“I just had fun riding these trails,” said Kabush.
“I was on my full suspension (bike) trying to be smooth conserving energy and waited for the last climb. I put my head down and got a gap, and that kind of put Max on the limit a bit. I wish we had more technical races like this on the World Cups. You have to think along the trails and use your energy wisely.”
Spencer Paxson, who was on familiar ground after winning the final stage of the BC Bike Race in July, managed to squeeze into third after Zandstra's flat on the penultimate lap. Fellow Kona rider and BC Bike Race Overall champ Chris Sneddon came in fifth.
Will Kabush be competing at the next Olympics in 2016? “I'll keep going til the fun stops and I'm having a lot of fun right now. There's a good chance you'll see me in Rio.”
The Lost Lake course remained dry and dusty throughout the race with rain setting in just as the final riders were completing their laps. Elite Women’s victor Catharine Pendrel said she rode carefully to avoid losing time to a potential crash.
“I knew that the corners would be slippery and just backed off some of the corners and just stayed upright the whole race,” she said.
“On the first lap me and Sandra Walter got away and on the first long climb I got a bit of a gap and just worked to maintain that. It was really fun to get back to Whistler, living in Kamloops I don't get here all the time but I always love it when I do.”
Felix Burke, Whistler local and Canada Cup Series leader for in the Junior Expert category, was hungry for a win on his home turf. But it was Quebec rider Raphael Auclair who crossed the line in first place.
“I was right with (Auclair), we were taking the lead and I was feeling super good,” said Burke.
“I was looking forward to the last lap because he was ahead of me and I could see he was making tonnes of mistakes. I was almost laughing to myself, knowing that once I attacked he would just blow up. You don't get those good feelings really often, but I had it today.”
But a flat tire mid race denied Burke the satisfaction, sending him to the back of the field but he still managed to finish the race and retain his lead for the Canada Cup.
“This has been my main goal all year almost, just to win here in Whistler. But I was just happy to finish the race.”
After placing second at the National Championships he received an invitation from the national team to represent Canada at the World Cup in Mon St-Anne on August 10 —where he placed 10th — as well as the World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Burke will be heading there next week with help of fund raising efforts by the Whistler Offroad Cycling Association (WORCA).
“It's such awesome support, without WORCA I wouldn't be going,” said Burke.
“I really wanted to show them what I could do here, I guess there's the Toonie race tomorrow.”
Other local results for the Canada Cup XC included Austin Reith and Bobbi Douglas who won in Men 18 and under and Women 18 and under respectively. Chloe Cross placed first in the Women’s 19-39 category and Cathy Zeglinski won the Women’s 40+ division.