Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, BC, was Canada’s top finisher at the opening round of the UCI Mercedes-Benz Mountain Bike World Cup in Stellenbosch, South Africa, on Saturday, finishing seventh in the Elite women’s competition.
Pendrel, a three-time World Cup overall champion and the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, rode in the top-5 for most of the six lap race, battling reigning world champion Jolanda Neff of Switzerland for the final podium spots before fading slightly in the final lap. Annika Langvad of Denmark won the women’s race ahead of Pauline Ferrand Prevot of France. Other Canadian results include Canadian champion Emily Batty (Brooklin, ON) in 14th, Haley Smith (Uxbridge, ON) in 23rd, Cindy Montambault (Val-David, QC) in 34th and Rebecca Beaumont (Alma, QC) in 44th.
“I felt great,” said Pendrel, “just needed a little more dig in the last lap, but racing always helps train the brain and I look forward to fighting for the podium again at the next one.”
In the Elite men’s race, Leandre Bouchard (Alma, QC), who will represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games, was the top Canadian in 36th place. Sam Gaze of New Zealand outsprinted world champion Nino Schurter of Switzerland to take the victory. Other Canadian results include Canadian national champion Peter Disera (Horseshoe Valley, ON) in 45th, Andrew L’Esperance (Halifax, NS) in 57th and Raphael Gagne (Quebec City, QC) in 66th.
“I managed my race very well and had a clean ride,” said Bouchard. “I only did 2-3 minor mistakes. I just need a bit more power to be at the fitness level I’m looking for. It’s still early in the season so I’m looking forward to the next World Cups, and the Commonwealth Games.”
Canada also had four riders competing in the Under-23 men’s race, with Quinton Disera (Horseshoe Valley, ON) the top Canadian in 24th place, followed by Raphael Auclair (Haute-Saint-Charles, QC) in 40th, Felix Belhumeur (Montreal, QC) in 47th and Marc-Andre Fortier (Victoriaville, QC) in 51st.