Brady Kappius is racing in the duo division with Clif Bar teammate Mitchell Hoke.

The big question on the start line of day 1 of the 2011 BC Bike Race was how would European riders Thomas Dietsch (BULL) and Marzio Deho (Olympia) fare in the Great Northwest?

Defending champion Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) is a homeboy comfortable on the forest singletrack. And Dietsch pointed out that the European races only see about 7 percent singletrack to BCBR’s 70 percent. And the technical levels are incomparable, so it is going to be an interesting week.

Stage one didn’t disappoint. Dietsch tailed Sheppard through the initial singletrack and attacked on a long fire road ascent. Sheppard regained the lead back in the singletrack with Dietsch – rocking a hardtail this week – close behind. Close, but not close enough to steal the yellow jersey from Sheppard for Stage One.

Sheppard, who is very familiar with the terrain, holds a 2-plus minute lead over Dietsch going into Stage Two. The next four category finishers, Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop / SRAM), Cory Wallace (Kona), Jason Sager (Jamis) and Marzio Deho all crossed the line within three minutes of each other. Gravity master Brian Lopes (Oakley/Ibis/ENVE/Kenda) sits in 14th.

Team of 2

The Epic Team of 2 Men category promises some solid competition as well this year, as champions Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks (Kona Factory Team) defend their title against a strong field.

A little bottlenecking and some tough breaks set a few teams back during the day. Sneddon and Wicks blasted through the finish in 2:28:12 to claim the day’s jersey with Mary Lazarski and Ricky Federau (Nativo/Devinci) just over a minute behind. Five minutes later, Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) came through with Greg Day and Colin Kerr (Rocky Mountain Bikes) and Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler (WTB/Cannondale/Shimano) less than a minute back. It’s still very early times and there are hundreds of kilometers of singletrack that can see the race take any number of turns.

Next Up: A quick morning trip up the highway brings racers to the site of a new stage with 33km of consecutive singletrack: Campbell River. The Campbell River trails will also be the launch point for the Rocky Mountain Bikes “Love the Ride” chip-timed sections.