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McGrath, Sheppard clinch BC Bike Race

Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard left no doubt as to who owned the strongest set of legs at the 2009 BC Bike Race, winning the final day into Whistler to clinch the race's overall prize. The two Canadians attacked the field on the day's opening fire road climb and never looked back, finishing clear of the second-place Monavie-Cannondale squad of Matt Shriver and Ben Sonntag to take their fourth stage of the 2009 race. "We wanted to do it up in style," McGrath told VeloNews. "Me and (Sheppard) are the grizzly old veterans at this race. We wanted to put it to the young guys."

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By Fred Dreier

2009 BC Bike Race, Final: DCM Chrome Kevin Evans and Max Knox (third); McGrath and Sheppard (first);  Kona's Wicks and Sneddon.

2009 BC Bike Race, Final: DCM Chrome Kevin Evans and Max Knox (third); McGrath and Sheppard (first); Kona’s Wicks and Sneddon.

Photo: Fred Dreier

Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard left no doubt as to who owned the strongest set of legs at the 2009 BC Bike Race, winning the final day into Whistler to clinch the race’s overall prize. The two Canadians attacked the field on the day’s opening fire road climb and never looked back, finishing clear of the second-place Monavie-Cannondale squad of Matt Shriver and Ben Sonntag to take their fourth stage of the 2009 race.

“We wanted to do it up in style,” McGrath told VeloNews. “Me and (Sheppard) are the grizzly old veterans at this race. We wanted to put it to the young guys.”

Indeed the victory capped off a week of battle at the front of the race between the two Canadians and the Kona duo of Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon, who rolled across in fourth place on the final stage. Kona won three stages of the race, and posed a serious challenge to Sheppard and McGrath until the penultimate day, when the two Canadians put seven minutes into the 2008 champions.

BC Bike Race, Final: Ludwig and Anderson (third); Nash and Prendel (first); Davison and Alison Sydor (second).

BC Bike Race, Final: Ludwig and Anderson (third); Nash and Prendel (first); Davison and Alison Sydor (second).

Photo: Fred Dreier

“Shep and Shaymo were climbing better than us this week,” Sneddon said. “We were both rocking the single track together, but those guys were going better uphill.”

McGrath, an Olympian in 2000 and 2008, agreed, saying he and Sheppard knew they held the advantage on the uphills. And while the BC Bike Race markets its plethora of twisting singletrack, the race also includes plenty of vertical relief.

“Me and [Sheppard] come from that World Cup background, so we have the ability to really bury ourselves on the climbs,” Sheppard said.

The third-annual BC Bike Race saw just under 400 competitors take the first starting line in North Vancouver for the seven-day trek to Whistler. The 2009 route included stops on Victoria Island, the Sunshine Coast and Squamish before the final day. The last day’s stage, which was short at 30 kilometers, began with a punishing steep fire road climb from base of the Creekside gondola to the mountain’s halfway point. The course continued down a series of rolling descents, and riders spent the day racing on hard pack soil and dry, dusty singletrack.

There was no change at the front of the women’s or the mixed categories, as Luna’s Katerina Nash and Catherine Pendrel held off the Rocky Mountain duo of Alison Sydor and Lea Davison to take their seventh stage victory and the overall. Ryan Trebon (Kona) and Georgia Gould (Luna) handily won the mixed category.

The win marked a major step for McGrath and Sheppard, who in 2008 watched in horror as their BC Bike Race ambitions perished on the opening day when McGrath snapped his frame and was a DNF. Winning the 2009 race, McGrath said, was a goal the two set aside in the fall of 2008.

“Winning this race was special. We felt like we won it on our home turf,” McGrath said. “The moment’s I’ll remember most are ripping through the singletrack with (Wicks and Sneddon). There was this feeling of mutual respect because we were all ripping and really enjoying ourselves. It was cool.”

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