National Championships 2017 – Forward Racing-Norco
August 4, 2017
By Team Forward Racing-Norco
The weekend of racing in Canmore for National Mountain Bike Championships was a good one for the team. We came in excited about our chances and ready to give it our all. National Championships isn’t really any different than any other race we do all season except it is… because it’s National Championships. The winner of each category gets a fresh jersey and the opportunity to wear the maple leaf for an entire year. Everyone has a little extra motivation coming in and there is a little extra pressure. In the days leading up to the race we tried our best as a team to keep it fun and keep the pressure down. That meant a dinner out together, swims at Quarry Lake and fun times on the bike.
Race day came quickly and even the beautiful mountain views around Canmore couldn’t steal our focus from the race. The Elite men rolled off first of the final start of the day with the U23 Men charging 2 min behind. Lespy (Andrew L’Esprance) had a solid start but was unable to contact the leaders off the start and Evan McNeely came on strong after a conservative start and get on the wheels of the lead group. On the second lap, a crash saw Lespy go from 5th to 7th and he couldn’t recovery the lost time and places and finished up in that position. McNeely held on to the leaders until he couldn’t and finished up a very satisfying 4th in a strong field led by Norco Factory Team’s Peter Disera. Behind the elite men an exciting race was going on with the U23’s.
Read about Sean’s race below.
Through My Eyes – By Sean Fincham
Heading into this year’s National Championship I was feeling strong and confident that, after some satisfactory races in Europe, I could be a podium contender. After a slower start of the season and struggling with little or no UCI points, I was very excited to start a race near the front. I had a few days at home to prep for Nationals and get some relaxation in. The week leading into the race went very smoothly thanks to an awesome course and teammates. A few days before the race I was told that Peter Disera would be racing in the Elite category because he was too strong for U-23 (he went on to win Elite Nationals). This got me excited that I could possibly leave Canmore with a jersey.
The day of the race I started second row and hit it fast from the gun, trying to string out the field throughout the start loop. I knew that I wanted to race aggressively so that I could slim down the field. I broke away with Quinton Disera and Raph Auclair. The three of us rode together for a lap then Raph fell off the back. Now it was just Quinton and I, just like last year in Junior. I tried to pick up the pace in a few spots to try and open a gap but I couldn’t separate from Quinton. Near the middle of the race Quinton made a mistake which resulted in a fall for him. I attacked and opened a pretty big gap. I was now in the lead with a big gap and big dreams. I was riding strong extending my lead when disaster struck: my rear rotor came loose causing me to have no rear brake. Those who rode some of the chutes on the course can understand how scary that was. The pressure was on and I was losing time. I was on my last lap and, after somehow rolling down the chutes, I pulled into the pits for a wheel change. Luckily the time in the pit was quick (about 45 seconds) but still, I was stressed. I could see Raph closing in on me as my time gap disappeared. I got back on and pinned it with absolutely everything I had. I extended my 20 to 30 second gap to around 40 seconds and rode in for the title.
The relief I had after finishing such a stressful race was incredible. I’m very happy to take the title in my first year and can’t thank my supporters enough. Thanks to Norco Bicycles, my team Forward Racing-Norco and all the supporters of that program. I am excited to do my best to represent the maple leaf for the next year and thanks for reading.
We are very excited to have the maple leaf on our team for the next year and we will continue to do our best on and off the bike to represent it well. It is hard to believe we are heading to the last few races of the season now and then resting and gearing up to do it all again. We cannot thank Norco Bicycles enough for the support of our new program this year, we could not have done it without you and your awesome bikes. We would also like to thank Sram, Kenda, DT Swiss, and HT Components. All the best and catch you at the next one.