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Hartland hustlin’


After a sweet sample prologue, Day 1 served up a full-sized serving of challenging Hartland singletrack. Finessing Victoria’s endless ribbons of singletrack is a technical feat on its own, racing it is a whole other beast. 26.3 km of janky trails rattled racers and shook up the overall standings as BCBR gets ready to head north to the Cowichan Valley.

Team tactics and trading jerseys

On the men’s side, a lead trio quickly formed. Tyler Clark found himself isolated with two Maxxis Factory Racing teammates, Sean Fincham and defending champion Andrew L’Espearance. While some might feel pressure, Clark was cool and collected as he rolled in to the finish in second place.

“They seemed to be fighting against each other as much as anyone else. I just hung back and followed lines. A few times the trail split up, I just watched which line was faster and followed that, so I kind of got a bit of an advantage there.”

Sean Fincham leads Andrew L’Esperance and Tyler Clark in Victoria

Clark held those fast wheels all day, only briefly losing touch on the last double track climb. He reeled in L’Esperance to finish with the returning champ. With that, he moves into third overall, one minute behind L’Esperance and a few more seconds behind Fincham. It’s a solid start to Clark’s first BCBR and he’s enjoying the experience.

“I’m having a blast, these trails are so much fun. I’ve done a couple east coast stage races and it’s totally different. There, I feel like we kinda bushwhack a little bit. These are proper trails. So many rocks and roots, it’s sweet.

Just ahead of Clark another BCBR rookie, Sean Fincham, claimed his first stage win of his first BC Bike Race. It wasn’t until the final kilometres that he was able to escape his teammate and Clark.

“It’s hard to get separated on these trails. They’re not flat, but there’s no big climbs to really push. Everyone of these guys can ride technically really well, so it’s hard to get away. I knew that last climb was going to be a sprint. I managed to get a couple seconds there and just held that to the finish.


Island local and Canadian cyclocross champ Evan Russell

Tyler Clark is looking comfortable in his first BC Bike Race

With two Maxxis Factory Racing riders in the front, there was a bit of strategy before the sprint.

“L’Espy is really good at riding all these rough trails in Hartland, so I could just shut my mind off and follow him. For me, that’s really helpful.”

While they’re teammates on course, only one rider can stand on top of the podium. With his first BCBR stage win, Fincham also takes over the leader’s jersey from his teammate as they go into Day 3. Beyond the results, Fincham’s enjoying being back on Vancouver Island in his first BCBR.

We’re only on day 2 but we’re racing trails I know in a place I love is pretty sick.

And Day 3 serves up a big challenge. 47.8km on course is spread out over two of North Cowichan’s most iconic mountains. First, the dreamy flow and speed of Mount Tzouhalem. Then, back to Maple Mountain for a hefty serving of tech on Maple Syrup.

It’s a return to familiar ground, as Cowichan has hosted BCBR several times in the past. The stage is always a rider favourite.

Evelyn Dong leads Maghalie Rochette on Day 2 in Victoria

A race, a reunion, and a new leader 

Familiar ground could be a relief for Katerina Nash. Holding the leader’s jersey coming into Day 2, the multi-time BCBR champ lost contact with the leaders early on and had to fight back for the rest of the day. Up front, it was Evelyn Dong and Maghalie Rochette riding together and pushing the pace.

“We started with the men and it started fast. I saw Evelyn was looking good, right up there with the front men and thought “we can’t give her that much room,” and bridged up,” Rochette says of how the pair got away. “We started climbing Trillium together and, at some point, I said “hey, we have a little gap” and she said “we never really have a gap when Catherine and Katerina are chasing us.”

Evelyn Dong arrives at BCBR with a podium from last year and plenty of stage race experience. While it’s early in this week’s race, the U.S. racer was happy to capitalize when the opportunity arose.

“I didn’t really have a plan going in, but I felt good and wanted to try stay with the men as long as I could. It was great riding with Maghalie all day. I kind of knew the finish, but when I did an effort on that gravel climb I forgot Lumpy Pants had a climb in it and thought, “oh I might have just buried myself.” Lumpy Pants was not pretty, but I hung onto it.”

For Rochette, being back at BC Bike Race is as much a reunion as a return. The last time here, 10 whole years ago, she won the team category with then-Cliff teammate Catharine Pendrel who is also back this weekend.

“One of the highlights for me was hanging out at the finish line. Everyone’s on a high, you know. Katerina arrived, and Haley Smith, and then Catharine. And it was just such a joyous moment for me. I love these people. Catharine’s always been my mentor and Katerina as well. We’ve gone through so much stuff together over the last 10 years, so I twas a cool moment to all be re-united and all sharing that race high and stories from the day. That was a special moment for sure”

This is still a race. All of these women know each other so well because they have years of experience racing against each other. Still, Dong is keeping her race plan simple.

“I just go as hard as I can. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but I feel like sometimes you have good legs and sometimes you don’t. So if you have good legs you should probably take advantage of that.”

Sidewinder opens Fox Timed Downhill competition

Nash did claim one win on the day. The BCBR veteran crushed the first Fox Timed Downhill of the week, setting a blazing fast time down Sidewinder in the closing kilometres of today’s stage. Nash narrowly edged out legendary British racer Tracey Mosley for the fastest women’s downhill by 2.2 seconds. Hannah Simms, also fighting for the overall, was just a handful of seconds back.

Peter Disera used the day’s final descent to claw back a big bunch of seconds on the leaders. That cut his losses in the GC, but it also earned him the downhill win. The former national champ edged out Victoria-local Max McCulloch by 0.4 seconds. For McCulloch, it was an opportunity to race some of the best riders around on home turf.

“It’s wild to see 500 people racing on these trails. Jesse Jubinville and the team at SIMBS have been doing a ton of incredible building in the network and it’s sweet to see it getting the recognition it deserves. The Dump is famous for its Jank, but I think people are learning to love it. I’ve ridden here for probably 14 years now so it’s nice to race the local trails. It helps to know the lines. I was going over it in my head last night and I’m pretty sure I know every single corner of the course today. Which definitely helped. Just being able to ride a little smoother and line up corners. Honestly, I can use whatever advantage I can get against these guys.”

McCulloch isn’t just fast on the downhills. He leaves his hometown sitting seventh overall in the men’s GC standings.

“I wouldn’t say I’m right up there, but it’s nice to be somewhat close. I’ll just try keep it smooth the rest of the week. Try not to blow up, try not to crash and just have fun!”

After two days of physical, punishing tech in Victoria, Cowichan will give some relief. There’s way more elevation on tap for Day 3, but also more speed and flow on the twin mountains of Tzouhalem and Maple Mountain. But first, racer’s relocate to the second basecamp of the 2024 BC Bike Race. For the next two nights, the basecamp returns to the ocean-front town of Crofton. A relaxing setting to relax and rest up to take on the next stage of the Ultimate Singletrack Experience.

Stage 2 Results

Open Women
1st. Evelyn Dong 1:30:48.9
2nd. Maghalie Rochette  1:31:08.8
3rd.  Haley Smith 1:34:04.5
4th. Katerina Nash 1:34:28.4
5th. Catharine Pendrel 1:35:06.8

Open Men
1st. Sean Fincham 1:16:45.1
2nd. Andrew L’Esperance  1:16:57.5
3rd. Tyler Clark 1:16:58.0
4th. Peter Disera 1:18:19.6
5th. Quinton Disera 1:18:19.6

Stage 2: GC

Open Women
1st. Evelyn Dong 1:59:03.0
2nd. Maghalie Rochette  1:59:34.5
3rd.  Katerina Nash 2:02:41.7
4th. Haley Smith 2:03:09.9
5th. Catharine Pendrel 2:04:03.1

Open Men
1st. Sean Fincham 1:39:06.4
2nd. Andrew L’Esperance  1:39:17.4
3rd. Tyler Clark 1:40:17.0
4th. Peter Disera 1:41:11.9
5th. Quinton Disera 1:41:42.8


Full Results