Leandre Bouchard, a 26-year-old Canadian National Mountain Bike Team member from Quebec says he’s hoping to get his first Canada Cup win at Bear Mountain this weekend. Bouchard is a three-time U23 national champion who made his elite world championship debut in 2015. He posted a 13th place finish at the Rio 2016 test event in October, qualifying to compete in the Olympics in 2016. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Canadian National Mountain Bike Team gears up for Canada Cup at Bear Mountain

National MTB Series Canada Cup part of 2019 Bear Mountain Bike Festival

The Canadian National Mountain Bike team is gearing up for a weekend full of racing at Bear Mountain in Langford.

The third annual Bear Mountain Bike Festival, hosted by the City of Langford and Tourism Victoria, is an off-road bicycle event being held on March 30 and 31.

The National MTB Series Canada Cup — designed to provide competitive opportunities to cyclists — will also be taking place and will be a great opportunity for the team to get back into the groove of racing again, according to head coach Dan Proulx.

“Canada is a really strong mountain bike nation so it’s a great opportunity to just test out fitness and test out some new tactics with the team,” Proulx said. “It is an opportunity for athletes to see where their legs are at and see how the winter of training worked for them.”

Proulx said he’s hoping to see some big improvements from the team, which features athletes who are Olympic medalists, Commonwealth Games medalists and world champions.

READ MORE: Team Canada mountain biker started training at Bear Mountain by chance

Many team members have their eyes set on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as they collect points to earn qualification spots on the Canadian Olympic team.

However, this weekend is really just a preparation race for the athletes, many of whom are excited to be cycling in warmer weather.

Leandre Bouchard, a 26-year-old team member from Alma, Que., said he welcomes the sunshine and trails on Bear Mountain.

“In Quebec, we still have a lot of snow so it’s really cool to be able to ride outside and have a real technical race,” Bouchard said. “I think that here on Bear Mountain we have better trails [that are] more rough.”

Bouchard is a three-time U23 national champion who made his elite world championship debut in 2015. He posted a 13th place finish at the Rio 2016 test event in October, qualifying to compete in the Olympics in 2016.

Bouchard has been on the national team since 2010 and said he is looking forward to winning his first Canada Cup.

“I’m looking forward to having a great battle with my Canadian teammates,” Bouchard said. “We’re often in opposition so the opportunity to know each other and develop relationships is great.”

READ MORE: Feel the flow of Bear Mountain in Langford

The team also features Olympic bronze medalist Catharine Pendrel, Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Haley Smith and Canadian Junior National MTB Champions Carter Woods and Emily Johnston.

Twenty-two-year-old Smith said she is working towards qualifying for her first Olympic team while 38-year-old Catharine Pendrel is hoping to make it to her fourth Olympics. Both athletes said the weekend races will be a great way to get back into the season, earn points and tune up as the season begins again.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us because there’s points up for grabs and that’s something we’re all looking for to help Team Canada stay in the top two in the world,” Pendrel said.

Smith joked that she will be chasing Pendrel on the trails this weekend but said there is a real sense of camaraderie amongst the team, despite them competing against each other.

“We’re all accumulating points to send riders to the Olympics for Canada,” Smith said.

The 2019 Bear Mountain Bike Festival will take place on March 30 and 31 with various events from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa.

There will be more than 500 participants competing in the Canada Cup and short track races.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Bear Mountain

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two new hybrid BC Ferries ships christened with new names in Victoria ceremony

Island Aurora and Island Discovery will service Gulf Island and North Island routes

Quadriplegic Saanich man seeks continuity of home care from Island Health

Island Health took over home care services in November

Public hearing coming for Victoria police officer accused of sexual misconduct

Police watchdog hearing follows VPD investigation into allegations

Lawyer says substitute teacher fought sexual urges for 30 years

Former Victoria badminton coach Harry Charles Sadd to be sentenced for sexual abuse of boys

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Galchenyuk nets shootout winner as Wild edge Canucks 4-3

Vancouver tied with Calgary for second spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

B.C.’s soda drink tax will help kids lose weight, improve health, says doctor

Dr. Tom Warshawski says studies show sugary drinks contribute to obesity

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

Most Read