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Cameron Jones and Hannah Simms win TransRockies 20 year anniversary race

Singletrack 6 celebrates two decades of XC stage racing in the Rockies

2023 Singletrack 6 / Stage 6 / Canmore, Alberta, Canada Photo by: Jean McAllister / TransRockies

After six days of close racing, winners of the 2023 Singletrack 6 were crowned in Canmore on Tuesday. After starting in Fernie, B.C., the race traveled to Sparwood before crossing the border, and heading up into the alpine in Crowsnest Pass then on to Bragg Creek and, finally, Canmore. In celebration of TransRockie’s 20th anniversary, this year’s route shared the start/finish towns with the original TransRockies Classic from way back in the early 2000s.

Racers were keen on battling for their own slice of that history. On the men’s side, New Zealand’s Cameron Jones traded wins Carter Nieuwesteeg while Justin Homewood and Raph Couturier kept pressure on the front two as they jockeyed for the final podium spot. Hannah Simms earned the leader’s jersey early in the women’s race, while fending off pressure from Chelsee Pummel and Imogen Smith.

2023 Singletrack 6 / Stage 6 / Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Hannah Simms races past a stellar view at Canmore Nordic Centre. Photo: Jean McAllister

Simms lands near-sweep at Singletrack 6

Hannah Simms hails from Ontario but, as part of the organizing group behind the Fernie Gravel Grind, had a local advantage going into the first two stages of ST6. Simms had just one off-day on the way to Canmore, dropping Stage 5 in Bragg Creek to Utah’s Chelsee Pummel. In every other stage, Simms stood on the podium’s top step.

“It was a super fun week with awesome riding and singletrack,” Simms said after the finish line in Canmore, “I definitely had some challenging times, but pushed through.”

With six days of racing in different communities, everyone has their own standout moments from the week. For Simms, the high-elevation stages proved to be a highlight.

2023 Singletrack 6 / Stage 6 / Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Simms at the finish line back down on Canmore’s main street. Photo: John Gibson .

“I think Day 4. The second Crowsnest Pass stage,” the Canadian said of her favourite day. “The climbs were hard, but the descents made it worth it, a good flowy, techy mix that day.”

Chelsee Pummel finishes second overall, 10 minutes back after six days of racing and with one stage win to her name. Imogen Smith of New Zealand, a podium regular all week, earned the final podium position in the women’s race.

2023 Singletrack 6 / Stage 6 / Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Nieuwesteeg and Jones rolled across the neutral finish together after a long week of racing in the Rockies. Photo: John Gibson

Jones steals ST6 from the Canadians

On the men’s side, Singletrack 6 quickly turned into a tight battle between New Zealand’s Cameron Jones and Fernie local, Carter Nieuwesteeg. The two were near inseparable until stage three when Nieuwesteeg’s cumulative fatigue from racing BC Bike Race and Singletrack 6 (with just three days off between) finally caught up. Jones pulled a handful of minutes advantage in Crowsnest Pass. The Fernie rider rallied to take stage wins on stages four and five, though, before Jones one his fourth stage in Canmore.

“It was a really good battle with Carter in the end. I came in thinking I had the upper hand with not having done the BC Bike Race before, then he definitely put up a good fight,” Jones said in Canmore. “I was pretty glad I got that big buffer on Stage 3.  On the fourth and fifth stages, I had a couple of mishaps and he certainly made the most of it.”

Jones takes the overall win, ending a wildly successful five-week stint of racing in Canada on a high note. The Kiwi headed to Canada during his university holidays as an alternative to Europe for his first year in the elite category.

“I wanted to keep some UCI racing going but Europe’s pretty full on, so I came to Canada. I’ve met heaps of cool people and it’s been awesome riding all the different towns between the races,” Jones explained. “This TransRockies was the perfect way to finish it off. I think one of my strengths and favorite bits about mountain biking is racing down trails blind on a cross country bike. These trails were the perfect level for racing on the XC bikes, but there were still features in there that you had to watch out for. I feel like I’ve given everything I’ve got and it’s nice to finish the season on a high!”

2023 Singletrack 6 / Stage 6 / Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Nieuwesteeg rolls through his 13th race stage in 15 days in Canmore. Photo: Jean McAllister

Nieuwesteeg thrives in second half of a hefty double header

Carter Nieuwesteeg rolled into Singletrack Six as the defending champion. But the Fernie racer was also hot off of a very hot week racing to fifth in the BC Bike Race. Added together, that tallied up to 13 days of racing in 15 days.

“I feel mangled, to be completely honest,” Nieuwesteeg said, using a highly technical physiological term to describe his stage after the finish line in Canmore.

While he was feeling the cumulative fatigue, the results – including two stage wins – were impressive.

“I completely surprised myself this whole week,” Niuewesteeg admitted. “I went in with pretty low expectations based off of how hard BC Bike Race was. I’m really happy that I was able to keep the buffer to Cameron to a minimum, with the exception of one day, and get two stage wins. My best day was Stage 4 in Crowsnest Pass. It got really high and I was able to use the elevation to my advantage.”

The common factor for both events, surprisingly, was a Kiwi showing up to throw a wrench in the Canadians’ race plans. After Craig Oliver animated BCBR on Vancouver Island, Nieuwesteeg faced off against Jones in the Rockies.

“Yeah, I don’t know, it must be winter down there or something,” Nieuwesteeg explained with a laugh. “No, it’s good to see an international field come out to both races and throw down and keep the Canadians honest.”

2023 Singletrack 6 / Stage 6 / Canmore, Alberta, Canada
That’s it from the TransRockies crew, at least for this week. Photo: Jean McAllister

That wraps up Singletrack 6 for 2023. The veteran organizer ditches fat tires for dropper posts next for the TransRockies Grave Royale in August. Singletrack 6 returns in 2024, though the roaming stage race’s host venues have yet to be revealed.

Full stage and overall category results from the 2023 TransRockies Singletrack 6.