After a mid-season break from racing to recharge and tune up our fitness, the Norco Factory Team converged on Sudbury to race the third Canada Cup of the year. The Sudbury course is known for its backbreaking bumpiness (literally) and its propensity for causing flats, and is a grueling test of fitness. The team entered race day ready to rip it up and assert ourselves as a dominant power on the national stage.
The team made it through the race virtually unscathed (Stan’s wheels were key out there!), with four of the team riders landing inside the top 10 of two internationally tested fields (men’s and women’s) (results here: http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Results_2014CanadaCup-MTB-XCO_Sudbury.pdf
). However, celebrating would have to wait – the real test would come the following weekend!
After Sudbury, the team emerged from the northerly wilderness to assemble in Barrie, Ont. for the Canadian National XC Championships. The race served as a test event for the PanAm Games (taking place in Toronto next July) and as such the course was as difficult as any on the World Cup circuit. Cayley and myself (Haley) were set to race 4 laps, McNeely and Peter 5, and Guthrie, Lespy, and Watson 6. Come race day, all the wrinkles on course were ironed out and our bikes were running flawlessly.
Each of us lined up ready to slay it, and slay it we did! As a team, we took two podium spots and showcased some of our best rides of the year. SRAM XX1 was perfect for the course, which included countless steep climbs and sketchy descents, and as in the previous weekend, Stan’s kept us flat-free on the rocky terrain. We couldn’t have asked for a better formula for success.
The Eliminator was an exciting spectator event on Thursday night, and Peter, Watson, and Lespy all took part. The Team Relay followed the XC on Sunday, and despite being completely gassed from the previous day of racing, we managed to pull off a 4th
place finish with the two teams we entered (and the strongest performance of any trade team entered). Hats off to a great weekend of racing!
Here’s what the riders have to say about the weekend:
“For most riders in Canada the National Championship weekend is one of the most important races of the year. Being my first year senior (23 years and older) I was looking to prove myself. With a great support network behind me I was able to come into the race with top form. That allowed me to stick with the plan of being the aggressor. I went out hard, led the first lap and continued to attack. A gap of 30 seconds held from a chasing pack of previous national champs. I left it all out there and was passed inside the final lap. Crossed the line in fifth and couldn't be happier.
Although the result doesn't speak the story of my race, it was one for the memory books. I was able to find a new level and can't want to race the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup in the coming weeks
- Evan Guthrie
"National Championships is the most important race of the year. It is a race where I always want to perform my best. With great support and equipment from Norco Bicycles and our Factory Team sponsors, Sram, Kenda and Stan's, all I have to do is focus on my own preparation. I had a strong race start to finish, and was 11th in Elite. On the first lap I had a small crash and ripped my shorts on the back. You could say I let it all hang out on this year's course...An awesome weekend of racing by everyone on the team!"
“After a slower start (racing in 3rd for the first lap), I overtook the lead on the 2nd of 4 laps. I managed to increase the gap to second to about 40 seconds heading into the last lap. However, the prospect of winning a national title got to me, and I crashed hard on the second half of the last lap. I managed to get myself going again and brought it home for silver. The race was a huge personal victory for me (on so many levels), even if it wasn’t a victory on paper. I can’t thank Norco enough for having the courage to believe in me over the last year. Now let’s see what the rest of the season brings!”
“It was another fantastic week with the Norco team at 2014 XC Nationals. Between the Eliminator, Cross Country, and Team Relay there was never a dull moment, and we walked away with some great results!”
"Awesome weekend on my home course of Hardwood Ski and Bike, I had a blast and was able to hold down a 10th place in my first Eliminator. The XCO was AWESOME the Revolver 27.5 was made for this course with the tight switchbacks and tight technical sections. Rode a solid mistake free race for a 8th place finish."
“After racing to my best result this season at the Sudbury Canada Cup the weekend before, I went into our National Championships confident and hungry. I was aiming for the top step of that podium, after finishing second the year before, but knew that 6 other people were looking to do the same thing. I was feeling good the final few days leading into the race, but didn't have enough fire in my legs after the gun blew. I fought hard after missing the winning selection on the first lap, but my efforts were not rewarded. I rolled into the finish in 6th place; disappointed but stoked on the great performances of my other Norco teammates.”
“Home course, lots of fans and great support; this was nationals at Hardwood Ski and Bike. I had a wonderful time with Norco Factory Team - a team with great support and good people. The course at nationals was fantastic, the cheer squads were enthusiastic and I finally felt good. Early in the week I tried to eliminate as many people in the XCE as possible. Unfortunately, I was ousted in the semi-finals. Oops! For the main event, I had a great race with a good start and some solid legs. I rode mostly by myself with only my Revolver to keep me company. However, I was able to snag the bottom step on the podium. As a first year U23 I am very pleased with the result. I was also very pleased to watch my fellow teammates ‘crush’. All in all a fantastic weekend! Can’t wait until I’m back with the team next week for Mont Ste Anne World Cup!”