In almost Tour de France fashion, BC Bike Race has
introduced a new stage and consequently a new community each year.
In this 5th anniversary edition of the event, Stage Two
shone the spotlight on the ocean-side city of Campbell River. The
hometown of Stage Two course designer, Martin Ready, Campbell River
is the third-largest city on Vancouver Island and fast becoming
known for its exceptional mountain biking areas. BC Bike Race
racers were about to find out why, as both the Epic and Challenge
courses offered close to 33km of uninterrupted Campbell River
For the vast majority of today's riders, including current race
leader Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes), the Campbell River
area trails were unexplored territory - would this level the
playing field for the top racers? A little more than two hours
after Campbell River Mayor Charlie Cornfield signaled the Stage Two
start, we found out as a small pack of Epic frontrunners blistered
across the finish line.
In a sprint finish, Jason Sager (Jamis) eked ahead of Chris
Sheppard to take the stage win in 2:13:24, while Sheppard retained
his GC leader status, and the 'golden fleece' for another day. Team
Kona's Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon, rounding out the leaders pack,
took the Team of 2 stage win in 2:13:26 and also retain GC leader
status. Both categories saw a little shuffling in the top places
within the stage, but the times remain tight and there is still a
lot of singetrack to be covered over the next five days.
Currently the solo GC shows Sheppard with four minutes over
Thomas Dietsch (Team BULLS), and seven minutes over Sager and Neal
Kindree (Republic Bike Shop/SRAM). There is a huge battle
developing in the Team of 2 GC behind leaders Sneddon/Wicks who
have fifteen minutes over the next teams. Marty Lazarski and Ricky
Federau (Davinci/Jamis), Greg Day and Colin Kerr (Rocky Mountain
Bicycles), and Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) are all
separated by a less than 30 second spread and fighting hard for
The majority of the other Epic GC category leaders remain the
same after two days of racing. In the Challenge GC, Grant Fox leads
the men, Tanya Berg leads the women, and Denver Poole and
Derek Reynolds lead the mixed category.
And adding another twist to the day was the introduction of the
Rocky Mountain Bikes "Love the Ride" timed singletrack sections.
Two separate segments of singletrack were marked and timed
separately within the course to create a 'race within the race.' In
these sections all racers, regardless of Challenge or Epic, are
pitted against each other to find the fastest male and female
Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain Bikes) and Katrina Strand (Troy
Lee Designs/Oakley/Maxxis) each won both of the inaugural "Love the
Ride" sections in Stage Two. They were awarded leader's jerseys and
will have the chance to defend their titles on the next "Love the
Ride" stage, scheduled for Day 6 in Squamish.
The timed "hotspots" are a new feature in BC Bike Race and
introduce an element that allows, as Mark Weir
(WTB/Cannondale/Shimano) put it, "more heroes" to emerge within the
race. Weir feels that this might be the evolution of stage racing,
reflecting a move from "pinning it" style racers to bigger bikes
ridden by more relaxed racers looking to have more fun.
While the "Love the Ride" sections are a young category for BCBR
this year, the vision is to give more racers a shot at the podium.
"Some climb well, some descend well, some are built for speed and
some for distance," said BCBR's Andreas Hestler, "The Rocky
Mountain Bikes 'Love the Ride' section creates the opportunity for
a variety of racers to shine each day."
The sections also allows racers of all abilities to test their
riding skills against the pros in the pack. The first offering
seemed to be a hit with racers: Chris_McGregor on Twitter, "Epic
moment @ #the bcbikerace - I rode wheel 2 wheel Katrina Strand for
the 2nd times section + was only a few seconds off her
Thanks to the new "Love the Ride" section, an array of amazing
trails, and a warm and welcoming community Campbell River Stage Two
made its mark on BC Bike Race with style.
Next Up: A very picturesque sailing from Vancouver Island to the
Sunshine Coast with BC Ferries. Once the ferry docks in Powell
River, racers will walk off the ferry and down to the beachfront
Base Camp and Start/Finish line area.