BC Bike Race kicked off its second year in the stunning Okanagan with a brand new course winding through the woods above Kelowna’s extensive vineyards.
Friday’s prologue offered the Canadian classic stage race its first sample of Kelowna’s particular flavour of dirt in the race’s 16-year history. At just 10km long, with 7km of timed singletrack, Day 1 was a chance to test the legs, sort out equipment and calm the pre-race jitters and find a place in the pack before the first full day of racing. A sneak peak look at what’s to come “The Ultimate Singletrack Experience.”
It was also a chance for riders to get a sense of what they’re in for over the next week of racing. While short, Day 0 offered the BCBR experience in miniature. A punchy singletrack climb greeted racers after the start gate. That led directly to a ripping descent off of a rocky bluff and back into the woods, mixing loose Okanagan corners with roots and high speed flow. After that sample of speed, racers were back under their own power on a fast, rolling stretch of pristine singletrack toward the week’s first finish line. A little speed, a little tech and just hard enough to wake up the climbing legs before tomorrow’s big effort, a full 40.5km of Crawford trails.
Testing the legs, and the competition.
This year’s roster includes a mix of returning champs and new challengers. While many riders were happy to get a preview of the Okanagan dirt, for the pros viewing for the win, Friday’s Prologue was game on from the word “Go.” A few seconds can make a big difference, even over a long week of racing, and no one was easing into the week. The advantage was clearly with the riders coming in hot off the World Cup season. Sandra Walter (Liv) and Luke Vrouwenvelder (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) powered to the weeks’ first wins with Vrouwenvelder taking only 17:52 to complete the 7-km timed section. Canadian Olympian Peter Disera gives up only two seconds, finishing second with BCBR veteran and past champ Geoff Kabush 11 seconds off the lead in third place.
On the women’s side, Sandra Walter takes a solid lead over past world (and BCBR) champion Catharine Pendrel. Lauren Cantwell and Chloe Cross leading the chase in third and fourth. It’s a long week of racing, though, and with six full stages of technical B.C. riding remaining, anything can and most likely will happen.
With BCBR returning to the Okanagan for a second year, we are honoured and grateful to be riding on the Traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx people of the Okanagan Nation.
Open Women’s Results
Sandra Walter - 20:28
Catharine Pendrel - 22:08
Lauren Cantwell - 23:09
Open Men’s Results
Luke Vrouwenvelder - 17:52
Peter Disera - 17:54
Geoff Kabush - 18:03