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Sheppard, McGrath win Stage 3 at BC Bike Race

There’s a tight battle brewing at the front of the 2009 BC Bike Race between the Kona’s defending champions Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks, and Canadian strongmen Chris Sheppard and Seamus McGrath (Santa Cruz/Jamis). After three stages the Canadian duo holds a slim 1:15 advantage in the overall ahead of the defending champions. Sheppard and McGrath won the first and third stages, both by small margins, and Kona grabbed stage 2 by a handful of seconds. And both teams know that in the topsy-turvy world of multi-day endurance stage racing, the fat lady is nowhere close to singing.

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By Fred Dreier

Monavie-Cannondale (right) and Jamis-Santa Cruz on the podium.

Monavie-Cannondale (right) and Jamis-Santa Cruz on the podium.

Photo:

There’s a tight battle brewing at the front of the 2009 BC Bike Race between the Kona’s defending champions Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks, and Canadian strongmen Chris Sheppard and Seamus McGrath (Santa Cruz/Jamis).

After three stages the Canadian duo holds a slim 1:15 advantage in the overall ahead of the defending champions. Sheppard and McGrath won the first and third stages, both by small margins, and Kona grabbed stage 2 by a handful of seconds.

And both teams know that in the topsy-turvy world of multi-day endurance stage racing, the fat lady is nowhere close to singing.

“We’re just going to keep riding strong and pick away at [Sheppard and McGrath] Wicks said after the stage 2 finish in Parksville. “A lot can happen before the end.”

Up to this point, McGrath and Sheppard have proven to be the strongest, a fact they reaffirmed on Tuesday’s 70km stage that began and finished in the Vancouver Island town of Cumberland. After stretching the field out on the opening 20km section of swooping, buffed out singletrack, the Canadians followed an attack by South African riders Brandon Stewart and Max Knox (DCM Chrome) on the day’s primary obstacle, a sizable fire road climb.

The South Africans led into the descent.

“We caught them in like two minutes,” Sheppard said. “It was so fun ripping the downhills.”

But confusion stopped the two Canadians dead in their tracks just 5km from the finish line. Local pranksters removed a number of critical course markings before the day began, and Sheppard and McGrath found themselves staring at a fork in the trail with no markers.

“We waited for [Kona] to ask them if they knew which way to go,” Sheppard said. “We went left.”

They should have gone right.

Pendrel (right) and Nash lead the women's race.

Pendrel (right) and Nash lead the women’s race.

Photo:

The four men eventually corrected their mistake and began racing to the finish line alongside the Monavie-Cannondale squad of Matt Shriver and Ben Sonntag. The German Sonntag crashed on the final singletrack, breaking his saddle, and Sheppard and McGrath gained a tiny one-second advantage at the line.

Despite the unplanned detour, the men bulldozed the technical 70km course in an impressive 2:51:53.

The elite Luna women’s team finished roughly half an hour later, crossing the line in 3:24:13. The Luna squad of Catherine Pendrel and Katerina Nash finished just 1:15 up on the Rocky Mountain duo of Alison Sydor and Lea Davison.

Nash pointed to Pendrel as the strongest woman in the race.

“She is really strong on the climbs,” Nash said. “I think I am pretty strong on the downhills.”

Sitting in third in the women’s race is the Oak Bay Bikes team of Dawn Anderson and Lisa Ludwig. The two have their work cut out for them — they sit nearly an hour and a half down on the Luna women.

Photo Gallery

Results

2009 BC Bike Race
Unofficial Results
Stage 3 Cumberland – Cumberland

Men

  • 1. Jamis-Santa Cruz (Seamus McGrath, Chris Sheppard) 2:51:53
  • 2. Kona (Barry Wicks, Kris Sneddon), at 0:01
  • 3. Monavie-Cannondale (Matt Shriver, Ben Sonntag), at 0:49

Women

  • 1. Luna (Katerina Nash, Catherine Pendrel), 3:24:13
  • 2. Rocky Mountain (Lea Davison, Alison Sydor), at 0:25
  • 3. Oak Bay Bikes (Lisa Ludwig, Dawn Anderson), at 31:06

GC
Men

  • 1. Jamis-Santa Cruz, 7:50:49
  • 2. Kona 7:52:02
  • 3. DCM Chrome (Brandon Stewart, Max Knox), 8:14:55

Women

  • 1. Luna, 9:11:28
  • 2. Rocky Mountain, 9:28:51
  • 3. Oak Bay Bikes, 10:43:59