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Canadians to watch at Maribor World Cup season opener

There's a crowd of Canucks looking speedy in Slovenia ahead of this weekends downhill race

When the first downhill World Cup of 2019 gets underway this weekend, there will be a strong group of Canadians contenders racing for the win.

Across elite and junior, men and women, Canada will have 15 riders on the startlist in Maribor, Slovenia. Leading the charge in the elite men are Mark Wallace and Finn Iles, both of whom already have World Cup podiums to their names. The lone Canadian woman in Europe is Rachel Pageau, who is looking to find success in her first full World Cup downhill season.

Chasing the elites are a crowd of juniors looking to make a name for themselves in the cutthroat and crowded junior men’s category. Elliot Jamieson leads the young crew, following his world championships bronze, but Lucas Cruz also has a World Cup podium, and several others have top-10’s from last season.

Elite Men – Maribor World Cup DH

Finn Iles (Specialized) debuted in the elite category last season after a stunningly successful junior career. The young Whistler rider took a couple rounds to find the pace but, impressively, found the podium part way through his rookie elite season. With a whole year experience, he’ll be looking to come out swinging in Slovenia.

Mark Wallace (Canyon Factory Racing) already has a ton of international experience, and success. The Vancouver Island rider will be joined on the World Cup circuit by his new teammate, fellow islander, and Canadian National champion Magnus Manson.

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A total of nine Canadian men will start the elite category. Joining Iles, Wallace and Manson are Forrest Riesco (Commencal Canada), former Canadian national chamion Kirk McDowall (Unior / Devinci Factory Racing), Norco Factory Racing’s Henry Fitzgerald, plus Ben Wallace and Kendall McLean in their first years as an elite, and Benjamin Despres Morin.

Elite Women – Maribor World Cup DH

Rachel Pageau is the sole Canadian woman on the start list in Slovenia. The Pivot Cycles rider already has a win under her best, taking the top step in a wildly muddy US Pro GRT round in Windrock, Tennessee. With 2017 world champion Miranda Miller shifting her focus to enduro this season, Pageau could be flying solo at most World Cup rounds this season. We caught up with XC-turned-DH racer Pageau earlier this year to talk about her decision to focus on descents and her new home at Pivot Cycles.

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Junior Men – Maribor World Cup DH

After his surprise bronze medal at last year’s UCI mountain bike world championships, Elliot Jamieson (Norco Factory Team) leads the Canadian junior contingent. He’s far from alone in the competitive race class, though. Pemberton’s Lucas Cruz (SRAM / TLD Racing) started his first year as a junior with a podium at the Losinj, Croatia World Cup in 2018. Cruz already has his first win of 2019, taking top honours at the second round of US Pro GRT Racing in Port Angeles, Washington.

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In his first race as a first year junior, Vancouver’s Ethan Shandro (Trek Factory Racing DH) immediately attracted attention. While the young racer, who is the son of Andrew Shandro, has shown speed in races around North America in the past, his blazing fast run at the Windrock US Pro GRT was faster than most of the pro men’s times. Shandro followed that up with a second at the iXS European Cup held on the same mountain in Slovenia last weekend.  Between his lineage and that early result, there’s already many expecting big things Trek Factory Racing’s newest signing.

There will be five Canadian juniors taking on the Maribor course. Ian Milley, who was second in the junior men’s race at 2018  Canadian national championships in Panorama, B.C., and Seth Sherlock will both be looking for solid results in Slovenia.