Canadian cross country riders set to start World Cup season

The cross country portion of UCI Mountain Bike World Cup begins this weekend at Nove Mesto Na Morave in the Czech Republic, with Canada’s two top riders representing their professional teams.

Catharine Pendrel, the reigning world cross-country champion and second place finisher in the overall World Cup standings last season, holds the number two UCI ranking in the women’s elite division. She finished second at this event in 2014.

One of her top competitors representing a different pro team is compatriot Emily Batty, who was fourth in the World Cup series last year. Batty carries a no. 13 rank into the race.

Emily Batty at London 2012.

Emily Batty at London 2012.

The two Canadian Olympians have been racing in the Pro XCT series in the U.S. this spring, where most recently Pendrel won the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California on April 18, a week after Batty took the top spot in San Dimas in a 1-2 Canadian finish. A third Canadian elite woman competing is Sandra Walter.

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Another top Canadian racer from the Pro XCT circuit is Raphael Gagne, who will take part in the men’s elite competition this weekend. The other elite rider among Canadian men is Leandre Bouchard.

Cycling Canada in a release cited that Walter, Gagne and Bouchard will compete under the Team Canada banner, as will four under-23 riders. Peter Disera and Marc-Andre Fortier are in the U23 men’s division, while Catherine Fleury and Haley Smith are in the women’s field.

A total of 21 Canadian cyclists are competing in the four categories at the first World Cup event, more than any non-European nation (entries listed here).

The second stop in the mountain bike cross country World Cup is in Albstadt, Germany a week later.