Cycling Canada has announced a team of eight riders that will represent Canada at the upcoming World Cup rounds in Germany and the Czech Republic. The riders, who will race in Team Canada colours, are in addition to several top Canadian pros who will be there representing their trade teams.
Cycling Canada’s eight riders are scheduled to race in Albstadt, Germany, on May 18-20, and in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic on May 25-27. “We’re bringing a good team of riders with a nice mix of developing athletes and experienced racers,” says Dan Proux, Canada’s national mountain bike coach. Andrew L’Esperance will race in the Elite Men’s race, and Sandra Walter and Catherine Fleury in the Elite Women’s field. In the Under-23 races, Canada will be represented by Mackenzie Myatt and Anne-Julie Tremblay in the Women’s race and Sean Fincham, Gunnar Holmgren and Brody Sanderson in the Men’s.
Albstad will be the first time the new Short Track addition will be included in the World Cup weekend. Catharine Pendrel, Emily Batty and Haley Smith, all competing for their pro teams in Albstadt, will be in Friday’s Short Track event that will be used to determine start position for Sunday’s XC race.
“This is an exciting development for our sport and we’re looking forward to perfecting this event at the World Cup level,” says Proulx. “It’s going to be new for everyone in the field, so there will be a learning curve. Traditionally, when they add these sorts of events to endurance sport, Canadians end up doing very well.” All three Canadian Women will go into this weekend’s event with some Short Track experience from Sea Otter Classic’s long standing Short Track event.
L’Esperance, who otherwise races for Forward Racing, already has a World Cup under his belt this season having raced at the Stellenbosch, South Africa round where he finished 57th. Returning to North America, the Halifax, N.S. rider had a string of strong results, winning the opening Canada Cup round in Victoria, B.C., followed by second at Fontana City and third at Bonnelli Park Pro XCT races, both UCI HC level events.
Coquitlam’s Sandra Walter (Liv Cycling) has also had early season success, finishing fifth at Bear Mountain, and again this past weekend at Dachstein Salzkammergut Mountainbike Grand Prix in Obertraun, Austria UCI HC race. At the Fontana City Pro XCT, Walter placed one better, finishing fourth. Catherine Fleury, from Saint-Gedeon, Que., was one spot behind Walter in Victoria, finishing just off the podium in sixth place at the springtime Canada Cup. Fleury will be looking to improve on her 28th place World Cup finish from Mont-Saint-Anne in 2017.
Mackenzie Myatt of Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S. will race in in the U23 Women’s event in Germany. Myatt finished 2017 with a second place in U23 at Canadian mountain bike national championships in Canmore, Alta., and has kept the momentum going in 2018 with a 10th at the Bear Mountain Canada Cup in Elite Women, and a 24th at the Bonelli Park Pro XCT, again against the Elite Women. Chicoutimi, Que.’s Anne-Julie Tremblay will join Myatt in the U23 Women’s category after finishing 19th in Elite Women at Fontana City Pro XCT.
2017 U23 national champion Sean Fincham, of Squamish, B.C. rolls into Albstadt after a string of early season results racing against the Elite Men in North America. L’Esperance’s Forward Racing teammate has already racked up a fourth at the Bear Mountain Canada Cup, 14th at the Fontana City Pro XCT, and a very strong 7th at the Sea Otter Classic XC in California.
Gunnar Holmgren at the Bear 2018 Mountain Canada Cup
Brody Sanderson racing in Victoria, B.C.
Two racers from the 2017 Junior Men’s national championship podium will be racing with Fincham in Europe, both having graduated into the U23 ranks for this year’s racing. Jr. national champion Brody Sanderson (AWI Racing) of Oro Medonte, Ont. and Gunnar Holmgren of Orillia, Ont., second in Canmore behind Sanderson, will be looking to establish themselves in the U23 field after successful Junior racing careers.