Posted by Editoress on 07/2/08
BC Bike Race - Stage 4 July 1st
Photos by Dave Silver (flash player required)
Stage 4: Earl's Cove to Sechelt
BC Bike Race staff showed their national pride by donning red and white garb to reflect Canada Day - the national holiday that celebrates Canadian independence from Britain. Red Canadian flag and 'BOB' (bear on bike) logo tattoos found their way onto many racers, staff and volunteers alike. With beautiful hot, sunny weather, why not celebrate Canada Day with a 67km mountain bike ride along the Sunshine Coast?!
Though Stage 4 officially started at 11am, the 400+ intrepid racers of the BC Bike Race were roused early from bed in order to begin their scenic journey from Cumberland to the Sunshine Coast start line. The first three stages were all based on Vancouver Island which is separated from the mainland (where you'll find such highlights as Whistler and Vancouver) by a deep, narrow body of water called the Georgia Strait. Currently, the only way to cross the Strait is by boat. And that's where the daunting 4:30am wake up call came in to pay.
To reach the start line at Earl's Cove, racers were treated to two ferry sailings and one terrific breakfast facilitated by BC Ferries - the Bike Race Presenting sponsor. BC Ferries was so proud to have partnered with BCBR, Amid pristine skies and quite calm seas, the first ferry and all the racers participated in the BCBR Money Shot - riders were permitted onto the topmost deck of the boat, normally off limits for passengers. At 7:15, a Harbour Air helicopter circled overhead to capture an aerial shot of the enthusiastic racers.
Once off the ferry at Earl's Cove, racers and bike reunited and crept up to the start line where they would wind up the hill out of the ferry terminal and up into beautiful singletrack trails. The Stage 4 course starts by winding its way down the Suncoast Trail to run out the peninsula. Then it turns into a meshing of old logging roads (c. 1906), newer logging roads and tight, tough singletrack that leads into Sechelt.
The home field advantage appears to have contributed to a shake up among the race leaders on the Sunshine Coast today. For the first three stages of BC Bike Race, Chris Sneddon and Barry Witz (Kona) have maintained a solid foothold in second place overall, while the leader's jersey changed hands daily. That was about to shift at the end of 60km of tight, twisting singletrack between Earls Cove and Sechelt.
Sunshine Coast native Chris Sneddon cut his teeth on these trails and has trained on them so much that he almost knows every pebble out there. And that advantage proved invaluable today. The front pack of riders had been ripping through to the daily finish line at a blistering pace thanks to the wide-open feel of the trails that lead up to Day 4, though many reason that without great volumes of singletrack to spread out the field, a hammering pace was expected.
The Stage 4 route put some amazing grins on riders' faces, and gave Kona the chance to take the lead. Sneddon anticipated a tough singletrack session - a downhill run on Millipede that's meant to be ridden downhill, but is can still ridden uphill, despite the high, tight singletrack - and made his move. Sneddon attacked up the hill and he and Witz came out ahead. Chris is from around here, so we didn't have to dig too deep to take the jersey, said Kona teammate Sneddon. Chris knew the trails, so we just let 'er rip!
And rip they did. First through the finish line was Team Kona in a very aggressive 3:11:30, with Flight Centre's Tim Bennett and Adrian Jackson next, followed by Marvin Campos and Manuel Prado (Team La Ruta/Shoair/Economy-Rent-A-Car ).
Once again, in the co-ed division, Wendy Simms and Norman Thibeault captured the stage and held onto the leader's jersey. There were no changes in the women's category, the 80+ category or the 100+category today.
Unfortunate circumstances for the Rocky Mountain Bikes pairing of Andreas Hester and Max Plaxton - they had a communication breakdown and ended up more than two minutes apart, which is against BCBR Racer Policy and required adding a one hour time penalty.
Next up for racers: Stage 5 in Sechelt with big singletrack and fire road rides in the Rat Race trail system and beyond!
Full results (pdf format)
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