Canada Cup celebrates 20 years of mountain bike racing

The Canada Cup National Cycling Series is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Canada. Eight races will be held in six different regions, with the best cross country and downhill mountain bikers fighting for top honours of this most important series in Canada for each discipline.

The Canada Cup Series is comprised of distinct categories, for both men and women: Elite/under 23 and junior for cross country and Elite/junior for downhill. There will be three downhill races and five cross country race, each with its own title to be won.

"We are extremely fortunate to work with remarkable local organizing committees that can host these national events in their respective areas. For the last 20 years, the collaboration between the Provincial Sport Organisations and the local organizing committees have been the heart of this national cycling series, and we are thrilled to be surrounded by such passionate and dedicated group of volunteers devoted to the growth and development of our future champions," said Mathieu Boucher, Director of development for the Canadian Cycling Association.

In 2010, Mikaela Kofman of Toronto, Ontario, won the women's elite title, and credited the Canada Cup races for her ascension to the World Cup level.

"Winning the 2010 Canada Cup Series was a major step in my progression in the sport of mountain biking. It proved to me that my training and hard work was effective and that I can be competitive in the sport on a national level," said Kofman, who is turning her focus to World Cup competition in this pre-Olympic season.

"Coming from the flat lands of Ontario, the Canada Cup series was my first exposure to more challenging terrain. The race series accelerated my technical skills set which is vital when racing on the world cup circuit. World Cup courses are notorious for very challenging, technical components and I can definitely say that the Canada Cup events are essential preparation," said Kofman. "Moreover, the Canada Cup series draws many of the best racers from across the country. The exposure to this talented pool of racers elevated my competitive edge which showed me what was expected at the world cup level."

Andrew Watson of Craighurst, Ontario, took the men's title of the Canada Cup in cross ccountry, and he also praised the series.

"Winning the overall was great last year, I had won the series three times as an Espoir (under 23) and since then it has been a goal of mine to win the senior title. I strive to be a consistent rider and winning an overall series is a great goal to have."

In downhill racing, Anne Laplante of Gatineau, Quebec, and Benoit Rioux of Bromont, Quebec, were crowned 2010 Canada Cup Champions, winning the titles in their respective gender categories.

The national cycling series will be held both in Eastern Canada and Western Canada. The Canada Cup kick starts with a cross country and downhill in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, on May 19-20. The series will then travel to Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec before a stop in Barrie, Ontario. The Eastern leg of the series will be end in Bromont, Quebec for the second downhill. After a month's break, Edmonton, Alberta will host a cross country race before the final stop in Panorama, British Columbia for two races.

The Canada Cup National Cycling Series represents the highest calibre of coordinated domestic racing in Canada. The series is a stepping stone for any riders with the goals of achieve international success. According to organizers, there are two goals of the series: to provide athletes from across the country with the best possible competitive preparation to aspire to national and international level events, and to develop and promote the sport of cycling in Canada through the encouraged participation of all age and ability categories.

Since its inception in 1991, the Canada Cup Series produced elite athletes including notably Olympians Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team), Marie-Hélène Prémont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), World Championships silver medallist Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing) as well U23 National Champion Emily Batty (Subaru-Trek).

2011 Canada Cup
May 21 - Mont-Tremblant, Quebec (XCO)
May 22 - Mont-Tremblant, Quebec (DHI)
May 29 - Baie-Saint-Paul Quebec (XCO)
June 05 - Barrie, Ontario (XCO)
June 26 - Bromont, Quebec (DHI)
July 24 - Edmonton, Alberta (XCO)
July 30 - Panorama, British Columbia (XCO)
July 31 - Panorama, British Columbia (DHI)

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