Here’s the latest report from Britain’s most successful XC mountain biker ever; Team Specialized’s Caroline Alexander.
“Canada has welcomed the World Cup with open arms since its inception in the early nineties . However despite the fact that at least one round has been held within its borders each season , it is seven years since British Columbia has played host to the competion .
Then the race was held in Silvestar. The course was challenging and the panoramas spectacular , but accessibility was a major issue . This time, however, it was a different story . Grouse Mountain towers 1,125 metres above Vancouver , one of the World’s most cosmopolitan cities , whose population must rank among the most culturally diverse in the western World . It is also home to some of the sport’s leading protagonists, including the current leader of the men’s World Cup , Roland Green .
Ski resorts are the ideal places to hold mountain bike races , but they are rarely located close to large centres of population . This venue , only 15 minutes’ drive from downtown was the perfect marriage between the mountains and the masses !
The circuit was fantastic . Steep drops , technical single track , tough climbs . It had the lot and all crammed into a compact 5km loop , which guaranteed maximum impact for spectators .
Although it did not play to my strengths , I knew I had superb condition and a podium spot was a perfectly attainable goal , especially as I had the advantage of my FSR , which cushioned my ride , enabling me to recover on the roughest sections , while those competitors without the option of full suspension hung on for grim death !
The only criticism I could levy concerned the start . A 20 metre pavement stretch , followed by a sharp right on to a bumpy , downhill section was dangerous . Needless to say , being one of the circuit’s more petite competitors I didn’t fare too well in the opening dash and after the start loop I was mid pack . However with 7 laps to complete I didn’t panic . The final third of the course was almost all uphill , so it was on this section that I opened the throttle and it wasn’t long before I was vying for third postion with the Gary Fisher duo of Mary Grigson and Chrissy Redden .
For the next four laps I would move ahead of Mary and Chrissy on the climb , only to be caught and passed by them on the downhill . Meanwhile out in front my team mate Barbara Blatter was ploughing a lonely furrow after the early leader Be One’s Annabella Stropparo had suffered mechanical problems .
Finally the elastic snapped and although both my adversaries were in sight, I could no longer close the gap . Instead, mid-way through the final lap I was caught by a hard charging Alison Dunlap . She pulled away in the final 300m to claim the third spot on the podium , both of us benefiting from Mary’s misfortune , who we passed fixing a flat in the last kilometre !
I should have been satisfied with fourth place , but I was not ! In fact I was bitterly disappointed . However, I aim to make amends this weekend in Durango where this time the odds will be stacked in my favour .”