Stage 6: Squamish - Squamish
The sixth stage of the BC Bike Race was Industry Day and riding anonymously amongst the riders were Olympians, bicycle industry insiders who make the products that people are riding, and young talent, all given a chance to enjoy the most popular stage with the racers. At the finish line, the festival atmosphere was high with a kids' race, and cheers were erupting for the 2 to 10-year-old kids 115 deep on one side, the racers on the other, and Brett Tippie telling jokes while holding random contests. Squamish has become one of the riders' favorite days of the BCBR with its network of trails.
It was a day of breakthrough riding and upsetting finishes as Matt Hadley (Xprezo) took his first stage of the week while Neil Kindree (Specialized Corsa) left the race with a stomach bug that started the night before.
Today's weather was warm at 26 degrees C, but the cool breeze and low humidity kept riders comfortable throughout the day. Kindree made the first attack on the opening road climbs and only Kris Sneddon (Kona) could follow the two accelerations initially.
A small group of riders including Hadley, Spencer Paxson (Kona), Erik Skovgaard (Racing29ers), Guido Thaler (Craft Rocky Mountain), and Michael Robinson (Peak2Peak Racing) bridged back up on the next climb. On the climb to Half Nelson, Neil and Kindree separated again and dropped into the most famous trail of Squamish with a 30-second lead on the group. Hadley took the opportunity to attack and caught both riders before the bottom.
On the next climb towards the first enduro stage, Hadley attacked again to get into the trail first and never looked back. He had 30 seconds by the bottom and never saw another rider on the day.
"Today was awesome. It's so much fun out there. There is a ton of technical singletrack and that's why I like to ride my bike," said Hadley.
For Kris Sneddon, it was kind of a let down to not have the excitement of a close race to enjoy. "It's a shame he had to drop out. I hate to win or lose to mechanicals of the bike or body."
Of note was Paxson's fourth third place place finish of the race. With Kindree out, he now moves up to second overall on the podium while Skovgaard now holds onto the third position after starting the week with a seventh place.
How long will Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles) ache over the repeated days of loosing by two or three minutes knowing that probably the only thing holding her back from the top step was another year of technical riding practice.
Every climb, she was able to challenge or drop Wendy Simms (Kona) the day's winner only to be chased down in the trails.
It's a testament to Simms' consistency to have no long mechanicals in six days of racing.
Trish Grajczyk (Deadgoat Racing) also had minimal gaps each day that could have been erased with a burped tire or broken chain. All three riders had consistent rides up to Squamish. Whistler is another day but it's short enough to generally have minimal effect on the overall.
Kevin Calhoun and Greg Day of Rocky Mountain Bicycles left no doubt to their dominance over Day's home trails.
"We were racing on all the trails I train on. The power house plunge, we had a couple guys on our tails, the second we were in there they were gone. It's not that technical, but knowing the lines in that trail is so helpful. Today we rode right by my house."
The final day at Whistler will be short at 25km, but it still packs a punch with 775m of climbing. A big opening climb takes riders to the top of Crank it Up in the Whistler Bike Park, a true bike park style course with big berms and jumps if riders have the energy to take them. The race will move into some of the less well known trails of the town before finishing up in the Olympic village. If riders are in a tight race for GC, this is their last chance to make a move stick.
Results will not be posted on Cyclingnews for this stage.
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