Day 7: Crowsnest Pass to Fernie
No ceremonial Stage 7 cakewalk, the final leg of this year’s TransRockies was the toughest in the event’s history and took place on another blistering day above 30-degrees Celsius. Longer than it has been in prior years and with more famous Fernie, B.C. singletrack, the last leg of TransRockies VII proved a rewarding but tough slog for many teams, even those at the front of the pack.
Jesse Jakomait of Sobe Cannondale, who came in 3rd with teammate Mike Garrigan in Stage 7 and 5th overall summed up the week by saying, “The first 20 minutes of the first day and the last 20 minutes of the last day were the toughest. It started with a bang and ended with a bang.”
Jakomait said the top five Open Men’s teams went pretty hard from the last control station to the finish in Fernie, which was evident at the finish line in the form of some surprising twists. Multiple-time TransRockies winner in years past, Andreas Hestler and his first-time TR teammate Chris Sheppard crossed the finish line first, cheered on by crowds enthusiastic about a Canadian team coming in first, ahead of expected stage winners Marzio Deho and Johhny Cattaneo of Italy.
Hestler said upon finishing that he was happy to get his teammate atop the podium at least once this week and that the plan that morning had been to attack early and stay ahead with the goal of crossing the line first.
“Shep attacked early and I went with him,” Hestler said of the first punishing ascent in the lead group. “It hurt though. They all fought pretty hard.” “The Italians were dangling just behind us and then about 10 to 12 kilometres in on the logging road we noticed all of a sudden they were gone.”
Deho suffered a broken seat around the 10-kilometre mark but managed to hold it together for 70+ km by wrapping a tube around it. In the end, Deho and Cattaneo came in 5th for the last stage, but easily swept the overall Open Men’s title with a time of 22:39:40 – 25 minutes ahead of 2nd place overall winners Kris Sneddon and Max Plaxton (CAN), who also came in 2nd place during Stage 7. Third place overall went to Marty Lazarski and Stefan Widmer (CAN), who came in 4th for Stage 7.
Despite the last day’s grind on a broken bike, Deho was all smiles at the finish line, nodding happily when asked if he felt good about the week. “Today I am happy,” he said. “It was a great opportunity and I appreciate the chance to do this with Andreas,” Sheppard said, acknowledging he may be back next year. “If you had asked me two days ago on top of a mountain my answer would have been no,” he laughed, “but today is a good day.”
Hestler admitted he had approached the week with a more laid-back attitude than he has in year’s past. “I’m getting old,” he laughed. “It hurts too much.” “I have always had a good friend to do TransRockies with,” he said.
“Just about any of the pro guys can race together because they all ride about the same level, but at the end of the day you have to be able to spend eight hours in an RV with them. I have rode every day of all seven TransRockies races – never missed a day – and always had a good friend to do it with.”
“He drank the last beer in the RV last night,” Sheppard interjected. “That hurt. This was a tough, tough, tough year. There’s no two ways about it. It was a good course and a tough field (of competitors),” Hestler said.
So is this it for the TransRockies veteran? Hestler said the question is not so much about what to expect from a potential new course or other event-related unknowns, but rather what to expect of himself. “It’s more about knowing what to expect of your body at this stage,” he said.
1. Marzio Deho/Johnny Cattaneo 22:39:40.70
2. Kris Sneddon/Max Plaxton 23:04:38.44
3. Stefan Widmer/Marty Lazarski 23:12:43.18
Top placed Brit team:
21. Adrian Scott/Gavin Rumbles 29:58:28.98
1. Carey Lowery/Lisa Randall 33:52:22.42
2. Amy Guidinger/Meghan Osborne 36:42:05.50
3. Angie Bryans/Inga Ivany 40:09:45.09
9. Jan Rogers/Emma Cransfield 49:20:41.59
All the results at www.transrockies.com