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McGrath and Sheppard win first stage

The tempest that unleashed high winds and heavy rainfall onto the Vancouver area on Saturday night did nothing to ease the pre-race jitters building among the almost 400 racers set to roll up to stage one's start line of the 2009 edition of the BC Bike Race. Racers arrived at the North Vancouver starting chute to find dark clouds lifting and the sun working hard to shine through.

At 10:00 am sharp local time, the start gun fired and the pack worked its way up the three-kilometer residential road climb up to the trailhead, where the fastest riders dropped first into the Mt Seymour singletrack. More climbs awaited as racers grunted up Old Buck and the Baden Powell trails to hit their first technical descent of the day - Severed Trail. Through the technical sections, some racers ran their bikes more than rode -- with seven full days of riding ahead, not crashing was a good strategy.

From Severed, the course drew racers through Bridle Path and Bottle Top after which they made their way over to Fromme Mt. More leg burning climbs led to the top of Pipeline trail - another local classic with plenty of man-made bridges and flowy berms.

McGrath and Sheppard start off with a win in the men's race

During Saturday's pre-race ress conference in Vancouver, the banter among the top three men's teams hinted at the battle that was to come this week. Stage one did not disappoint. Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard (Jamis / Santa Cruz) said they were here for redemption and their aggressive attack on the North Shore course secured their first stage win of the week with a time of 1:35:14.

Last year's overall winners, Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks (Kona), and 2007 overall winners Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk (Trek) rode practically within arm's length of each other for much of the course as they put constant pressure on the lead team. More than halfway through, Trek's Schalk took a tough fall on the Pipeline trail for which he later required stitches in his top lip. That opened the door for the Kona team to put some time between them, as Kona finished in 1:36.29.

Trek's misfortune reminded some of last year. On opening day last year, Eatough suffered a major mechanical issue in the first circuit of the day, and the team had to push the limit to claw its way back to the lead pack from being more than 30 minutes behind the last rider on course. Eatough's strategy was simple, "You have to keep going, no matter what happens." One year to the day later, Schalk delivered on that strategy too, bloodied face and all, as Trek rallied back to a 1:38:57 finish.

Luna team opens with stage win in the women's race

Catharine Pendrel & Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) proved the top women's team of the day. They were hot on the heels of the best male riders and they blazed across the finish line in 1:50:07 with rivals Alison Sydor and Lea Davison (Rocky Mountain) almost eight minutes behind. Oak Bay Bikes' Lisa Ludwig and Dawn Anderson rounded out the top three in 2:11:11.

Canadian Olympian Catharine Pendrel, in her first multi-stage event, commented on the Team Luna Chix strategy going into seven days of racing with a technical North Shore start. "Katerina and I are both competent descenders so we knew we could gain some ground there. We didn't want to kill ourselves on the first day, but we had pre-ridden [the] Severed [Trail], which helped. Pipeline was completely new for both of us, but I have a fearless teammate. We just pushed forward and started picking off the guys - it was a lot of fun."

Being top female athletes in an event like BC Bike Race means racing primarily with male teams on the course. But Pendrel was quick to point out that Team Luna Chix were in great company, "Something good for women to know out there is that the guys have been awesome - they are cool about passing. The atmosphere out there is really great!"

Kerr tops solo men

There might well be another close battle this week. While Colin Kerr (Team Kerr) posted a blistering 1:39:46 to take top spot in the Solo Open Men, Kevin Calhoun (RMB - Different Bikes), Tony Hogg (Hoggy R&R Sport NZ) and Andreas Hestler (Team Hestler) battled hard for the next three spots. Calhoun came in at 1:43:00 with Hodd and Hestler two and five seconds, respectively, behind him.

Other categories

Favorites Georgia Gould and Ryan Trebone (Team Gould) nabbed top spot in the Open Mixed category posting a 1:50:46 for the day.

North Vancouver local, Megan Rose (Team Rose) claimed the yellow jersey for Solo Open Women with a solid 2:12:52.

Roger Bartels (Norcal Bike Sport) secured the top spot in Solo Men 40+ with 1:49:38 for the day, and the women's equivalent went to Lisa McBain (Power to Be) in 2:51:17.

Veterans 80+ winners, Normon Thibault and Peter Stevenson (Frontrunners-Experience Cycle) crossed the finish line with a 1:57:59. Thibault is last year's runaway Open Mixed category winner, which he claimed with his wife, cross country and cyclo-cross racer extraordinaire Wendy Simms. This year Thibault is making more of a mark on the BC Bike Race - he designed the new Stage 2 course.

Finally, rounding out the day's results are the Veterans 100+ winners, Francois Amyot and Daniel Auclair (Zootallures) with a solid lead in 2:13:39 and Team of 3 or more going to Chris Brown, Scott Darling, Bill Darling and Francis Sutherland (Sports Insurance) in 2:53:13.

Stage 2 Preview: Nanaimo to Parksville

Riders will be treated to a BC Ferries crossing from the mainland to Vancouver Island, where they will gear up and hop on their bikes to race from the Nanaimo ferry terminal to the Parksville beachfront.

Solo men
1Colin Kerr (Kerr)1:39:46
2Kevin Calhoun (RMB - Different Bikes)0:03:14
3Tony Hogg (Hoggy R&R Sport NZ)0:03:16
4Andreas Hestler (Hestler)0:03:19
5Duncan Gavin (Obsession Bikes / Suarez)0:05:50

Solo women
1Megan Rose (Rose)2:12:52
2Karen Trueman (Trueman)0:16:51
3Tori Fahey (The Bee)0:57:13
4Claire Garcia-Webb (avocado tomato)0:59:22
5Kati Csak (Team? Just me and my bike)1:17:01

Solo men 40+
1Roger Bartels (Norcal Bike Sport)1:49:38
2Ted Russo (Open Road Group / Secret Cycles)0:03:27
3Mark Sevenhoff (Western Spirit)0:05:08
4Gary Thacker (Chipotle / Titus)0:18:55
5Trever Bushnell (Thieles Automotive)0:24:45

Solo women 40+
1Lisa McBain (Power to Be)2:51:17
2Sarah Heine (This Kiwi Can't Fly)0:44:41
3Alice Caroline Voigts (Blonde Bokkie)0:52:46
4Lori Halwa (Valley Girl)0:57:04
5Vivian Jablanczy1:20:54

Men duo
1Seamus McGrath & Chris Sheppard (Jamis / Santa Cruz)1:35:14
2Barry Wicks & Kris Sneddon (Kona)0:01:15
3Chris Eatough & Jeff Schalk (Trek)0:03:43
4Matt Shriver & Benjamin Sontag (MonaVie Cannondale)0:04:55
5Brandon Stewart & Max Knox (Team DCM Chrome)0:06:29

Women duo
1Katerina Nash & Catharine Pendrel (Luna)1:50:07
2Alison Sydor & Lea Davison (Rocky Mountain)0:07:55
3Lisa Ludwig & Dawn Anderson (Oak Bay Bikes)0:21:04
4Mireille Montminy & France LaCroix (Lambert - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun)0:45:51
5Deanne Katnick & Nicole Muzechka (Zeechnick)1:11:20

Mixed duo
1Ryan Trebon and Georgia Gould1:50:46
2Jeff Neilson & Mical Dyck (Terrscape / Trek Toronto)0:08:01
3Sandra Walter & Steven Devantier (Local Ride / Pedal Mag)0:11:44
4Sue Butler & Bryan Alders (MonaVie Cannondale)0:12:21
5Steve Martins & Kate Aardel (Hardcore CC)0:20:20

Vets 80+
1Normon Thibault & Peter Stevenson (Frontrunners-Experience Cycle)1:57:59
2Geoff Clark & Pat Doyle (Deadgoat Racing)0:03:22
3Matt Ohran & Tim Butler (Monavie Cannondale / River City Bicycles)0:13:43
4Ian Parker & Bill Slater (Yukon Fuel)0:15:48
5Wake Fulp & Reed Melton0:20:22

Vets 100+
1Francois Amyot & Daniel Auclair (Zootallures)2:13:39
2Jamie Emery & Robin Willard0:13:39
3Gilles Morneau & Isabelle Cantin (Velomag / Kona / Le Pedalier)0:22:16
4Tom Ebbern & Gerry McCuaig (Not Dead Yet)0:26:59
5Stephen Ford & Roger Malinowski (Team BOB Gear)0:27:13

Three-person
1Sports Insurance2:53:13
2Sports Insurance0:00:02
3Oakville Cyclepath Cutters0:02:14

Solo men general classification after stage 1
1Colin Kerr (Kerr)1:39:46
2Kevin Calhoun (RMB - Different Bikes)0:03:14
3Tony Hogg (Hoggy R&R Sport NZ)0:03:16
4Andreas Hestler (Hestler)0:03:19
5Duncan Gavin (Obsession Bikes / Suarez)0:05:50

Solo women general classification after stage 1
1Megan Rose (Rose)2:12:52
2Karen Trueman (Trueman)0:16:51
3Tori Fahey (The Bee)0:57:13
4Claire Garcia-Webb (avocado tomato)0:59:22
5Kati Csak (Team? Just me and my bike)1:17:01

Solo men 40+ general classification after stage 1
1Roger Bartels (Norcal Bike Sport)1:49:38
2Ted Russo (Open Road Group / Secret Cycles)0:03:27
3Mark Sevenhoff (Western Spirit)0:05:08
4Gary Thacker (Chipotle / Titus)0:18:55
5Trever Bushnell (Thieles Automotive)0:24:45

Solo women 40+ general classification after stage 1
1Lisa McBain (Power to Be)2:51:17
2Sarah Heine (This Kiwi Can't Fly)0:44:41
3Alice Caroline Voigts (Blonde Bokkie)0:52:46
4Lori Halwa (Valley Girl)0:57:04
5Vivian Jablanczy1:20:54

Men duo general classification after stage 1
1Seamus McGrath & Chris Sheppard (Jamis / Santa Cruz)1:35:14
2Barry Wicks & Kris Sneddon (Kona)0:01:15
3Chris Eatough & Jeff Schalk (Trek)0:03:43
4Matt Shriver & Benjamin Sontag (MonaVie Cannondale)0:04:55
5Brandon Stewart & Max Knox (Team DCM Chrome)0:06:29

Women duo general classification after stage 1
1Katerina Nash & Catharine Pendrel (Luna)1:50:07
2Alison Sydor & Lea Davison (Rocky Mountain)0:07:55
3Lisa Ludwig & Dawn Anderson (Oak Bay Bikes)0:21:04
4Mireille Montminy & France LaCroix (Lambert - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun)0:45:51
5Deanne Katnick & Nicole Muzechka (Zeechnick)1:11:20

Mixed duo general classification after stage 1
1Ryan Trebon and Georgia Gould1:50:46
2Jeff Neilson & Mical Dyck (Terrscape / Trek Toronto)0:08:01
3Sandra Walter & Steven Devantier (Local Ride / Pedal Mag)0:11:44
4Sue Butler & Bryan Alders (MonaVie Cannondale)0:12:21
5Steve Martins & Kate Aardel (Hardcore CC)0:20:20

Vets 80+ general classification after stage 1
1Normon Thibault & Peter Stevenson (Frontrunners-Experience Cycle)1:57:59
2Geoff Clark & Pat Doyle (Deadgoat Racing)0:03:22
3Matt Ohran & Tim Butler (Monavie Cannondale / River City Bicycles)0:13:43
4Ian Parker & Bill Slater (Yukon Fuel)0:15:48
5Wake Fulp & Reed Melton0:20:22

Vets 100+ general classification after stage 1
1Francois Amyot & Daniel Auclair (Zootallures)2:13:39
2Jamie Emery & Robin Willard0:13:39
3Gilles Morneau & Isabelle Cantin (Velomag / Kona / Le Pedalier)0:22:16
4Tom Ebbern & Gerry McCuaig (Not Dead Yet)0:26:59
5Stephen Ford & Roger Malinowski (Team BOB Gear)0:27:13

Three-person general classification after stage 1
1Sports Insurance2:53:13
2Sports Insurance0:00:02
3Oakville Cyclepath Cutters0:02:14

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