Victoria, B.C. will once again host the opening round of Canada Cup XCO racing, as the Bear Mountain Bike Festival returns March 31 – April 1, 2018. Along with the main event XCO, the festival includes mountain bike demo days, a kids bike day and, new for 2018, a short track XC event. The Bear Mountain Bike Festival has grown steadily over it’s three years running. In 2017, the Canada Cup XCO race was upgraded to UCI C2 status, a move that attracted a higher level of competition, including from south of the border. For 2018, the event continues to expand, as U17 Men and Women joins Elite, U23, and Junior as official Canada Cup categories. The U17 Canada Cup leaders jersey’s will make their debut on the Bear Mountain podiums.
Being held quite early in the season has positioned Bear Mountain Canada Cup as a chance for Canada’s Elite cross-country racers to test their legs heading into the seasons national and international competition. The marquee XCO event is regularly attended by Canada’s best. Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro Team) will return to defend her victory in Victoria from last year, facing strong competition from Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing), the 2017 Canada Cup overall champion, Soren Meeuwisse (Trek Canada), and a rising group of Canadian Women.
In the Elite Men’s race, Raph Gagné (Cannondale 3Rox) will return, looking to take his third straight victory at Bear Mountain. Gagné’s perfect run at the resort will be challenged by 2017 Canada Cup overall winner, Evan Guthrie, and National Champion, Peter Disera (Norco Factory Racing).
New for 2018, the festival will include the first ever Russ Hay’s XC Short Track race on Sunday, April 1. With UCI adding short track racing to the calendar, it will be interesting to see how racers adapt to the new format at the national level. The spectator friendly format will be a 20 minute race taking place on a fast, 1.5 km course. Lap primes will be awarded to add to the excitement, and pace of the race. Not just for the pro’s, there will be short track XC races held for beginner, intermediate, expert, masters, and youth cyclists as well as the Elite categories.
Bear Mountain Bike Festival will also have demo bikes available for riding on Bear Mountains trail network, a food truck venue, and a Kids Bike Day. Presented by Oak Bay Bikes Westshore, the Kids Bike Day will offer free, fun skills training with former Canada Cup Champion and certified coach Adam Walker (The Cycling Co.) for kids age 6 – 10.
Registration for all 2018 events are open now. For more information, including the Canada Cup tech guide, visit Bear Mountain Bike Festival’s website.