Team Canada is on the move in Switzerland. Haley Smith and Catharine Pendrel, who teamed up for the Perskindol Swiss Epic 2018, have moved into the lead at the five day mountain bike stage race.
Following an impressive performance at 2018 world championships in Lenzerheide – Smith finished a career best 6th and Pendrel 14th after a returning from a mid-season injury – the two Canadians are racing together at Perskindol Swiss Epic. Far from a casual post-worlds cruise, the stages average over 60km and between 2,000m and 2,800m of elevation gain each day.
Pendrel and Smith won Stage Two, traversing from Bettmeralp, through Grächen to Zermatt to take the overall race lead from the Thömus / RN Racing team. The Canadian duo defended their lead on Stage 3, but only after fighting back from a flat tire early in the day.
Team Canada now holds an 11 minute advantage over Kathrin Stirnemann and Alessandra Keller (Thömus / RN Racing), with Ghost Factory Racing’s team of Barbara Benko and Anne Terpstra in third after three days of racing.
Scott-SRAM’s team of Matthias Stirnemann and Andri Frischknecht leads the men’s GC after three days of racing. The two are being chased by a second pair of Swiss riders: Hansueli Stauffer and Konney Looser of BiXS Pro Team.
It was the third placed Team USA of Christopher Blevins and Keegan Swenson that rode away with the stage victory on the third day of racing. The American’s cut into the Swiss team’s lead, but are still 21 minutes back on the GC standings.
Canada’s Andrew L’Esperance and Sean Fincham (Forward Racing-Norco) currently sit seventh in the GC after three stages. The Forward Racing-Norco team had been racing with the lead group during the Stage 2, before a flat tire left the pair chasing the lead group.
L’Esperance and Fincham aren’t the only Canadian men in the event. Sarto’s team of David Grenier and Sidney Boisvert currently sit 31st overall.
Watch highlights from Day 2 racing at the Perskindol Swiss Epic 2018. Keep an eye out for Forward Racing-Norco’s Andrew L’Esperance and Sean Fincham, and of course Pendrel and Smith.
Day 1 Highlights – Perskindol Swiss Epic 2018