Cycling Canada will roll into the first two XCO World Cups of the season with an eight-rider team, led by two of the country’s strongest cross country racers.
Two time world champion Catharine Pendrel and reigning Pan American champion Raphaël Gagné with both don the maple leaf this weekend in Albstadt, Germany. Along with them will be six of Canada’s best, including national champions in several disciplines. After Albstadt, the team will continue on to Nove Mesto, Czech Republic on 24-26 May.
“This is a good chance to test our fitness and equipment in World Cup competition,” said Dan Proulx, Mountain Bike Head Coach at Cycling Canada. “There isn’t too much pressure as it’s early season and our bigger goals are later in the season. We’re bringing a good team of experienced riders along with some newer athletes hoping to gain experience.”
The team will include four Quebec athletes, two from B.C. and one each from Ontario and Nova Scotia.
Among them will be 2018 under-23 national champion Laurie Arsenault, now racing as an elite, and under-23 cyclocross national champion Gunnar Holmgren. Mackenzie Myatt, Marianne Theberge will contest the under-23 race, while Cindy Montambault and Sandra Walter will race with the elite women.
Albstadt was where Sandra Walter launched her breakout year in 2018, finishing 15th on the mud-slicked track. It was the first of a string of strong performances from the veteran Coquitlam, B.C. racer that season. Her performances in Germany and afterwards earned her a spot on the newly formed Liv Racing team.
Along with the eight-rider Team Canada squad, a strong contingent of Canadians will be on the start line in Germany this weekend. Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing), the Norco Factory Team and Pivot Cycles-OTE roster, and several others are all gearing up for the first XCO World Cup of 2019.
2019 Team Canada mountain bike squad:
Laurie Arsenault – Terrebonne, Que. (under-23)
Raphael Gagne – Quebec City, Que.
Gunnar Holmgren – Orillia, Ont. (under-23)
Cindy Montambault – Val-David, Que.
Mackenzie Myatt – Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S. (under-23)
Catharine Pendrel – Kamloops, B.C.
Marianne Theberge – Levis, Que (under-23)
Sandra Walter – Coquitlam, B.C.