Team Update: Norco Factory Team and Forward Racing-Norco at 2018 UCI MTB World Championships in Lenzerheide
September 11, 2018
After a season of spectacular cross-country racing on top-quality courses around the world, the athletes of Norco Factory Team and Forward Racing-Norco were ready for one final push at the 2018 UCI MTB World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, this past week.
The Cross-Country Team Relay event kicked of the battle for medals on Thursday. Norco Factory Team’s Haley Smith, her team partner Peter Disera, Forward Racing-Norco’s Sean Fincham and two other fellow Canadian athletes represented their home country and finished with a strong 8th place in the team event.
Norco Factory Team’s Quinton Disera and Forward Racing-Norco’s Sean Fincham were up next to battle for the rainbow jersey in the U23 category on Friday. The 4.2-kilometer course was nothing short of brutal as carpets of roots, technical rock gardens and grueling climbs were challenging body and bike alike. Nightly rainfall caused difficult and slippery track conditions which made for some exciting and dramatic racing – a plus for the thousands of spectators cheering from the sidelines. After a good start, Sean pushed hard throughout the race and cracked the top 15, finishing with a tremendous 14th place. Quinton was ready to rev the engines for the season-ender as well and finished 27th on the challenging track.
“World Championships is always a special event to attend. With the rest of Team Canada, all eyes are on the prize of that rainbow jersey. Although I may not have come away as World Champion, I checked off a lot of boxes in the race, and am glad I finished off the 2018 season feeling strong. This season has been nothing less than fun-loving, exciting, and great memories made with the Norco Fam! Not to say that I’m looking forward to next year, but I am very amped to get after it over the winter and come out swinging in 2019! Thank you for the great year!” – Quinton Disera, Norco Factory Team
“Racing World Champs is always an honour. This year was a really good race for me. I am proud of my result, but also stoked to learn that I can race with some of the best in the world. It was an eye-opening experience that will motivate me in the future.” – Sean Fincham, Forward Racing-Norco
Next up was Norco Factory Team’s Haley Smith in the Elite Women’s category on Saturday. After a career-best race season with Top 15 and Top 10 finishes at the World Cup, Haley felt strong and ready to battle it out for the title. She finished with a remarkable 6th place among the best female XC racers in the world.
“Worlds was one of those once-in-a-year perfect days. I felt like we really nailed the taper/peak. I’m so happy to come away with 6th and so motivated to keep working for more! It’s been an amazing season with the Norco family… couldn’t have asked for more.” – Haley Smith, Norco Factory Team
Norco Factory Team’s Peter Disera and Forward Racing-Norco’s Andrew L’Esperance were the last ones to race for the rainbow stripes in the Elite Men’s category on Saturday. After cold and rainy days earlier in the week, the men’s race went ahead under blue and sunny skies. A challenging course, hard battles and tough attacks in the last laps demanded everything from the riders. After a rough start and mishaps midway, Peter was able to pull off a fantastic race and ended up with one of his best overall performances of the season – a 49th place. Andrew pushed hard as well but wasn’t able to hit his stride throughout the race. He finished with a solid 60th place.
“You only get to race a handful of World Championships in a career and it is such an honour to represent your country at this race. I am super proud of my season overall. However, it wasn’t my day and sometimes that happens. It only makes me want it even more. I am proud of my Norco teammates for their super strong races in Lenzerheide showing the strength of our team and the quality of the bikes.” Andrew L’Esperance, Forward Racing-Norco
“World Championships was huge this year! The Swiss crowds were out in full force and my ears were still ringing well after the race. My race was a bit of an experience with some crashes off the start and mishaps midway through but I kept charging and had one of my best overall performances of the season. I am very happy with what I’ve learned and experienced this year and am looking forward to coming back stronger next year.” – Peter Disera, Norco Factory Team
Find the full race results of the 2018 UCI MTB World Championships in Lenzerheide here.
Peter and Quinton are now back in their hometown in Ontario enjoying some well-deserved time off. After a very short breather, Haley, Sean and Andrew are currently competing in the Swiss Epic, a grueling 5-day, 350-km long race to the Matterhorn where the athletes tackle 12,000 m in altitude in total. Stay tuned for a recap on their experiences!
All images by Andy Vathis