Skip to main content

Day 6 of the BC Bike Race headed up to Campbell River, a classic venue delivering possibly the dreamiest uninterrupted ribbons of lush, forested singletrack anywhere in B.C. Easy speed and endless cruising corners provided relief from relentless tech and elevation for some riders.

Up front, the race was very much still on. Before dropping into the forest, a 6.5km gravel roll out added a high-speed strategic battle to the singletrack shredding.

Maghalie Rochette was on a mission in Campbell River

Rochette rallies in Campbell River 

Maghalie Rochette had time to make up after a flat tire in Nanaimo dropped her out of the lead. The past Canadian cyclocross national champion dropped repeated attacks to get away from the rest of the women, eeking out a 20 second lead as the raced narrowed from gravel to doubletrack to sweet, sweet singletrack.

“Mags flew off with a couple of attacks, but we were mostly able to close them down. Katerina and I settled into riding together. She led for the whole first half, and almost dropped me a couple of times on descents, but I was able to stick. It was just fun.” -Haley Smith

Katerina Nash strong second half of the week continued with a third place on Stage 6

Smith rocking the maple leaf

Smith was feeling the love for Campbell River on Day 6

Fun was also fast. Smith finished second, 12 seconds ahead of Nash and just under 2 minutes behind Rochette. It was a good day for the Canadian who’s fended of different challengers for her third place spot nearly every day. It has made for an exciting week at BCBR.

“It’s been good. I’ve kind of found my slot, which has typically been third. But today was great. The Trails in Campbell River align more what my current skill set is, just having done a lot more pedalling stuff. It’s kind of like Ontario. A moss-carpeted beautiful Ontario trail system. So it was fun, and it was conducive to to being in a group, so it was fun to ride with Katerina.” – Haley Smith

On Sunday, the race returns for a grand finale in Cumberland. The Trek racer has one goal in mind.

“Survive. I really suffered in Cumberland yesterday. It was above what I was prepared for technically. Body-wise, bike-wise, I was undergunned. So I’m nervous.”

Evelyn Dong was making the most of Campbell River’s more wheels-on-the-ground terrain

One rider not enjoying the lack of elevation and relative lack of tech was Evelyn Dong. After two days in the lead, Evelyn lost time in Campbell River and the race lead.

“I don’t think it was a bad day. This course is kind of tough for me. I think I did a pretty good job of getting through the road section fairly well. I made the best of it.” – Evelyn Dong

Second at BCBR in 2023, Evelyn has 89 seconds to make up to Maghalie Rochette if she wants to take the win this year. After six days of racing, it all comes down to a do-or-die day in Cumberland. For Dong, the plan is clear:

“There’s no holding back. Nothing to lose, I’m just going all in.”

Sean Fincham leads the 2024 BC Bike Race

But there’s so little difference between him an his teammate Andrew L’Esperance, down to line choice, that Sunday will be a thrilling battle for the title

Mens Race: A brewing podium battle heats up 

After six days of working together, Maxxis Factory Racing teammates Andrew L’Esperance and Sean Fincham have one day to decide which one of them gets to be BC Bike Race champion. While they’ve been working together, L’Esperance admits there’s been preludes for the final battle.

“For sure, the last two days we’ve been testing each other. There’s nothing between us in Cumberland yesterday. Not a whole lot of space between us, we’re fairly evenly matched. Which is also a great thing, we want to do more pairs stage racing. So it’s confirmation that we should put our energy into that. We’re a great team, we’re evenly matched, we can ride well together. But in terms of BC Bike Race, yeah, we need to create some separation.” – Andrew L’Esperance

There’s no gifts in racing, even between teammates. In Campbell River, Sean Fincham attacked on the final false flat drag into the finish line. That earned him another stage win and a few more seconds advantage going into the final day. L’Esperance has to make up 32 seconds on Sunday if he wants to defend his BC Bike Race title from 2023. Where is he planning to make up that time?

“There’s not a whole lot of weakness there to attack, so just trying to figure it out. So we’ll see,” L’Esperance says. “I’ll throw everything at it tomorrow. If I come up short, it is what it is.”

Peter Disera is steadily moving up the rankings this week

Peter Disera had a front-row seat for the inter-team battle all day in Campbell River. Like many in basecamp, Disera was feeling the weeks effort adding up. After a slow start, though, he turned the day around and worked his way through the field to ride with the leaders.

“I had a small gap when we popped out on the road. I hoped Sean and L’Espy would let me get away with it. It was just a drag race. L’Espy passed me. Sean blew past. They both rode through me, then Sean rode through L’Espy. That finish is so gnarly, just a kilometre and a half at three present and tough gravel.”

Sitting second overall in the Fox Timed Downhill sections, Disera put in a little extra effort to get ahead of the leaders going into Rotary Rock and Roll.

“It’s pretty tight between Max [McCulloch] and I. I sprinted into it and had a pretty good rally – gapped L’Espy and Sean, so hopefully it’s a good time.”

Disera won the Fox Timed Descent by just under a second ahead of Eric Olson. The 2022 BCBR winner, multiple time Canadian mountain bike national champion, who  is technically retired. But he’s also steadily moved up the standings all week. After his exploits in Campbell River, he moves into third overall just five seconds ahead of Tyler Clark. What was the secret to singletrack speed?

“I was just riding the singletrack really well. Up here in Campbell River you just gotta, well, not care. Just not stress yourself with whether its a turn or not and just send everything.” That approach nearly backfired on Lower Deliverance, where a lake view nearly turned into a lake swim. “I had one overcook on a blind fadeaway left that I was very close to the edge. If I’d gone off it would have been a couple feet – or a couple hundred – to fall down.”

Anna Yamauchi sends it off the Jabberwocky drop

Fighting for positions and enjoying  the Ultimate Singletrack Experience 

While the race for the win is as thrilling as ever, deep pro fields and small gaps between racers means everyone in the top 10 is fighting all-out, day after day, for position. Two BCBR rookies from the U.S. are enjoying the B.C. singletrack as much as they are the competition.

Anna Yamauchi is 7th overall and is chasing Hannah Simms in the standings.

“It’s so cool to come and get a seven day bootcamp, freshening up and getting a bunch of new mountain bike skills. It’s sweet how good the women’s field is. Following their wheels all week long and trying to put together some good days has been fun.”

Yamauchi’s week has been a roller coaster ride, between mechanicals and some health issues. She’s either been fighting for a stage podium or riding further back. No matter where she is in the standings, Yamauchi’s been rallying down B.C. singletrack with the best.

“The descending’s been super fun. Cumberland yesterday, it was super tricky and technical but such a good experience. To come here today, just felt extra flowy in comparison. It’s so cool to get different ride experiences day-to-day.”

Cody Cupp also found airtime on Jabberwocky

Also visiting from the U.S., Cody Cupp is sitting 10th between Swiss Bulls racer Fabian Heinzer and 24-Hour World Champion Cory Wallace, and thriving in the challenge of his first BC Bike Race.

“The week’s been fun. Every day I’m chasing the back of the front nine: Carter, Max, Fabian. It’s always a mix of who the rabbit is up in front and I just try to keep them in touch. Today, Cory Wallace caught me and I was actually pretty happy, he was pinned. It was nice to have someone to be battling with at the end.”

I’m definitely trying to hold onto the nine dudes in front of me but they’re all really fast. So far I’ve been unsuccessful in it, but one more day to keep trying!”

That chance will be back in Cumberland, which suits the American just fine.

“Yesterday, in Cumberland was cool. Those descents are what I think of when I think of riding in Canada. Rooty, loamy, steep, that was sick.”

Even BCBR veterans are stoked on this year’s racing. Carter Nieuwesteeg is in his fourth BC Bike Race and is currently chasing Geoff Kabush, Quinton Disera and a possible top 5 finish.

“It’s been good. Clearly the most stacked field to date and it’s’ really cool to see this caliber racing out there,”Nieuwsteeg says. “There’s been some good battles all around. I think I’m building a bit of form as the week goes on, but I’m also running out of time.

What has four years of racing BCBR taught the Fernie local about how to survive the singletrack gauntlet?

“My strategy is to be as consistent as possibe.There’s always going to be days that are really hard. Whoever can be the best damage control will usually comes out in the top 5. Just trying to keep things smooth, I had a few mechanicals in the first few days, but now I’m just cruising.”

A Grande Finale

There are battles happening everywhere on course. Between old buddies and between new friends, everyone in the field is enjoying the bonds forged through hard efforts day-after-day.

The final day of racing returns to Cumberland for a second serving of the best trails in the town’s vast network. It’s a grand finale on some of Canada’s grandest cross country trails. One last test of skills and fitness to crown two worthy champions. Everyone who finishes this epic week of racing has accomplished something spectacular. But, before the coveted BCBR belt buckles are handed out, racers have to power through 31 kilometres and 893m of elevation gain.

Day 6 Results

Open Women
1st. Maghalie Rochette 2:14:44
2nd. Haley Smith 2:16:41 (+1:57)
3rd.  Katerina Nash 2:16:53 (+2:09)
4th. Evelyn Dong 2:18:57 (+4:13)
5th. Catharine Pendrel 2:19:34 (+4:50)

Open Men

1st.  Sean Fincham 1:54:02
2nd. Andrew L’Esperance 1:54:06 (+0.04)
3rd. Peter Disera 1:54:12 (+0.10)
4th. Tyler Clark 1:55:32 (+1:30)
5th. Geoff Kabush 1:58:10 (+4:08)

Day 6: Overall Standings

Open Women
1st. Maghalie Rochette 11:11:00
2nd. Evelyn Dong 11:12:29 +1:29
3rd.  Haley Smith 11:25:15 +14:15
4th. Katerina Nash 11:29:50 +18:50
5th. Catharine Pendrel 11:38:00 +27:00

Open Men
1st. Sean Fincham 9:12:33
2nd. Andrew L’Esperance 9:13:05 (+32)
3rd. Peter Disera 9:24:32 (+11:59)
4th. Tyler Clark 9:24:37 (+12:04)
5th. Quinton Disera 9:37:47 (+25:14)

Full Results

Fox Timed Downhill Campbell River: Rotary Rock and Roll

1st. forthcoming


Fox Timed Downhill: Overall