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

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

More than 250 riders took part in the fifth annual Tripleshot CrossFondo, which riders across parts of the Saanich Peninsula, including this field near Sluggett Farms. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tripleshot CrossFondo rides across Saanich Peninsula

More than 250 cyclists took part in mystery-course race

City of Victoria crews will soon be gathering up fallen leaves in neighbourhoods and city parks. First up on the pickup list are the James Bay, Fairfield, Rockland, Gonzales and South Jubilee neighbourhoods, starting Oct. 19. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria city leaf pickup a sure sign of fall

Residential pickup begins Oct. 19, drop-offs can happen anytime at city yard

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read