Norco Factory Team – World Cup Team Words by Andrew L'Esperance
Photos by Jonothan Duncan After a long break on the World Cup calendar, the racing continued in North America. These races are always a focus for the team. It is a privilege to race a World Cup in your own country and for the best in the world to come play on your court. These races are also a great for connecting with sponsors and seeing what’s coming down the line for next year. Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup was up first. It is a course that suits all of our athletes, and one that we have raced many time before. Having been a staple on the World Cup since 1991 (when I was born), the organisers of Velirium certainly know how to put on a race. This year they added a new switch back climb named L’Enfer (or Hell in English) and brought back the infamous Beatrice descent. It made for a challenging course with long climbs and short technical descents. The weekend started out with some bad news with Peter suffering an injury.
“Sidelined with a shoulder injury suffered just before the race in Mont-Sainte-Anne I was unable to race. However disappointing, this injury gave me the opportunity to become part of the support team. I would assist in feed-zones, take photos and help out in the expo. This was about as enjoyable as an injury could be. I was still able to be a part of the team and provide support to the healthy bodied athlete on the team. Up next is to focus on getting healthy and fit before World Championships.” -Peter Disera This young athlete is wise beyond his years and certainly handled this setback professionally. As the weekend continued our luck turned as we had three personal best results in the cross country races on Saturday. Haley started things off with a courageous ride to 10th place fighting for every spot start to finish. That set the tone the day and Evan McNeely and Evan Guthrie followed up with their best World Cup results to date. McNeely rode to 7th place of the U23 Men and Guthrie to an impressive 36th place in his first World Cup with the Elite Men.
"The gun blew and I knew I was in for a good one. My start was terrible, as a result of lining up on the wrong side in the start grid and losing spots through the first two corners. I rolled through the start loop in 41st position ready to turn on the jets. Once the field opened up I was like Aragorn leading the Army of the Dead; swooping past people lap after lap and making my way up into my best ever World Cup result in 7th. I was hoping for a solid result in Mont Sainte Anne and was pleasantly surprised." -Evan McNeely
Andrew Watson and I did not have personal best results but we enjoyed the racing on the tough course. For me, this race served as an important learning experience as I transition to the elite category. “Wow St-Anne stepped it up again with some beautiful new features and climbs. I was really happy to have some great legs and a wicked bike setup to nab a top 50 finish.” -Andrew Watson
After Mont-Sainte-Anne we drove to East Burke, Vermont for a couple chill days away from the action. This was an opportunity for the support staff and athletes to recharge. Tuesday morning we all kitted up in our ONE baggy kits and Ergon hydration systems, perfect combo for a day on the trails. We got to ride some of the best trails on the east coast, in a big group, so it was a lot of fun. These sorts of rides are what mountain biking is all about!
After a short break we were back to the action at Windham Mountain in New York State. This small town welcomes the race with open arms, everyone in this small town seems to be stoked to have the event in their town. At pre-race haircuts at a local salon we felt very welcome and Annie wanted pictures with us and wished us luck. At this race we were able to meet with our sponsors Stan’s NoTubes and Kenda as an entire team and chat about our seasons and our equipment. It is nice to see the people behind the products we represent and see the enthusiasm that we all share for our sport and lifestyle. The racing continued on Friday with the Eliminator. We had two athletes racing, Andrew and Cayley and they enjoyed the racing. “I have a firm belief in trying everything once a world cup eliminator seemed to fit that bill. An enjoyable experience going through the TT qualifier but after being eliminated 1st round I think the 90 second all-out effort is not my forte.” -Andrew Watson “After a yearlong break it was great to have the Windham World Cup back on the schedule for 2014. The always challenging old-school course didn't disappoint and the team had another weekend of great results and fun!” -Cayley Brooks On Sunday we were treated to dry and hot racing conditions and lots of climbing up the mountain. At the event the fans were great, there were some key heckling sections complete with a chainsaw revving as a noise maker. Cayley and Haley started the day off with the U23 Women’s, both had great races and enjoyed the course.
"After a solid result at MSA (which is one of my favourite race courses), I was hoping to post something similar or better at Windham. Thanks to a dialled 650b setup complete with XX1, Kenda Small Block 8s and a flat-proof Stan's wheelset, I was able to ride in for my best World Cup result yet in 9th place. The trip was awesome - what a way to wrap up the North American season!" -Haley Smith
Later on, McNeey rode a strong race to 21st place, he didn’t have the fire of the week before but watch out for his ride at World Championships, it is going to be out of control. The boys finished off the day with the Elite race. I had a solid ride, I had fun, embraced the fans and really crushed it on my last lap. Watson and Guthrie continued with consistent races. "After a great debut World Cup race in the elite category at Mont-Sainte-Anne, I was ready to tackle Windham. Although the course didn't play to strengths I was confident that my fitness would allow for a good race. This week I moved up to start in 71st after last week’s 84th starting spot. This course is one big climb and one big descent. Nothing technical, just fast and bumpy. I was used to the blown out descent with loose dust and gravel, as that is what my home trails are like. In the end it wasn't my best day, but I still happy to finish up 44th and keep the consistency going. Norco was phenomenal the past two weekends with Jon and Havy making our lives easy.” -Evan Guthrie “I was content with my race on the old school big climb big descent course but my legs just didn’t appear on race day and I was left to meter my efforts the best I could to hold onto 56th spot.” -Andrew Watson With the conclusion of these races the band is splitting up for a bit and focuses change. Three of our athletes have been selected to race for Canada at World Mountain Bike Championships so their training continues. The Evan’s and I are headed out to Crankworx now for Canada Cup Finals in Whistler and Marathon Nationals in Squamish. It is going to be a tough couple days as the Canada Cup is on Friday and Nationals on Saturday. Guthrie is in contention for the overall series so we, as a team, will be doing everything we can to make that happen. As always, this team would not be possible without our sponsors Norco, Sram, Kenda and Stan’s. The racing would not happen without the support from Jon and Havy. And lastly, this group of athletes would not perform the way they do with the support from each other and all the fun we have as a group off the bike.
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