Pendrel dominates Canadian cross country championships

Last year, an expected battle between Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and Emily Batty (Trek Factory) at the Canadian National Championships near Barrie, Ontario, did not happen after Pendrel suffered a broken collarbone prior to the event, leaving Batty unopposed to take her first elite women's title. This year, when both riders lined up at the start, the race everyone had been waiting more than a year to see was finally a reality, with Pendrel winning her fifth title.

Cindy Montambault (Équipe du Québec: CVM 2 VALS), silver medalist in Thursday's eliminator race, led the field off the line for the five-lap race. Coming back into the stadium area, it was Pendrel, Batty and Sandra Walter (Liv/Giant Canada) leading, followed by Montambault, Mikaela Kofman (Scott-3Rox), Andréanne Pichette (Opus/OGC) and Amanda Sin (Scott-3Rox).

After a bobble by Pendrel on the switchbacked Cayley's Climb, which also held up Batty, Walter rode into the lead, but was quickly overtaken by Pendrel and Batty, who opened up a healthy gap by the end of the first lap. Pendrel, the former world champion was at the front forcing the pace most of the time, but Batty was able to follow, seemingly without difficulty.

"To be honest, the first couple of laps I was feeling pretty comfortable," said Batty. "I was letting it rip on the descents, because I had them memorized so well, and I was able to recover quite a bit descending the singletrack."

Early on lap three, Batty did move into the lead, allowing Pendrel both respite and insight into her fellow competitor. "Emily's a very strong rider. She's a very skilled rider. I expected that she was going to be there for at least two laps. When she went to the front during the third lap, I got to see a little bit more of where she was at. We could hear each other breathing so we both knew we were working hard, but when I was following I felt like I had a little bit more and I used that to my advantage. I made a move that I hoped would be decisive and it was."

On that same third lap, on the course's longest climb, Pendrel turned the screw a little tighter, hoping to pry open a gap. Initially only a handful of seconds, the gap grew steadily as the race wound down.

"She hit it with two-and-a-half laps from bottom to top on the longest climb, and I was able to hang on to that," said Batty, "but it did take a bit of a match because I knew she was going to pin it, and I was able to hang on to that. I was able to get around her and tried to counter, but she hung on to that and came back around. It was super-eventful, but she just wore me down little by little."

"My offense is better than my defense," said Pendrel post-race. "I find I'm in a better headspace when I'm dictating the pace, so that's what I was doing today. I just had to have faith in my fitness that eventually the pace would be too hard and Emily might not be able to go with me, and if she could go with me to the end of the race then I was just going to have to be smart and choose a moment to make a decisive move. Luckily, the offensive tactic worked."

Batty finished second and Walter, riding on her own for most of the race, came home in third. Kofman hung on to fourth, while her teammate Sin overtook Montambault for fifth.

Despite finishing second, Batty was pleased with her performance and her current form. "Honestly, I have to say I felt awesome. She had an even better day but I did feel really awesome. I worked really hard and I would have to say that was harder than the Australian World Cup. Second place to Catharine today was pretty respectable so I'm happy. It's definitely good to have each other to push each other. I think this was a top-5 World Cup pace today."

Race Notes

- Frédérique Trudel (Specialized Racing Canada) continued her unbroken streak of national titles, with the fourth of her career - two junior and two U23. Maghalie Rochette (Luna Pro Team) took the early lead but faded after going out too hard, with Trudel moving up past Haley Smith (Norco Factory Team) after Smith crashed to take the win.

- Serving as a Pan Am test event, the national championships took advantage of plenty of trail and infrastructure work at the venue. The new course, which will be the Pan Am Games course for next year, received strong praise from riders, who cited its difficulty and "fun" factor. The venue is still undergoing renovations for the Games, with the finish and timing system to be moved to the new start area. More than $200,000 has been invested to date, with more work to come, including a new cell tower for improved phone and internet coverage.

- Pendrel and Batty will leave for Glasgow, Scotland, mid-week to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games. Canada has won gold in the women's cross country both times it has previously been held at the Games (2002 and 2006).

Brief results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Catharine Pendrel1:34:28
2Emily Batty0:00:45
3Sandra Walter0:06:19
4Mikaela Kofman0:09:14
5Amanda Sin0:11:05
6Cindy Montambault0:12:59
7Rebecca Beaumont0:13:52
8Mandy Dreyer0:14:57
9Jean Ann Berkenpas0:16:56
10Heather GrayRow 9 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
U23 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Frederique Trudel1:23:39
2Haley Smith0:00:41
3Catherine Fleury0:01:24
4Rachel Pageau0:02:42
5Laurence Harvey0:04:57
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Junior women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Soren Meeuwisse1:02:15
2Laurie Arseneault0:01:03
3Paige Foxcroft0:02:40

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