Canadian mountain bike legend and three-time Olympian Geoff Kabush of Courtenay (Scott-3 Rox Racing) was crowned the men elite champion at the 2014 Canadian Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships at Hardwood Ski and Bike in Oro-Medonte, near Barrie, Ont.
In doing so, the 37-year-old Kabush became the most decorated mountain biker of all time at Canadian championships, earning his eighth elite title in cross-country. He surpassed Alyson Sydor, who has seven titles to her credit.
In addition to his cross-country races, he won four cyclo-cross title, and became the most decorated cyclist of the US Cup Series.
The championship races Saturday featured all of Canada’s top mountain bikers, and the racing certainly did not disappoint. The top group of riders expected to perform raced well and were in the hunt to the finish line.
Evan Guthrie and Cameron Jette (Scott-3Rox Racing) both started like a bullet in the first few moments of the race, and took an early lead from the front of the pack in the six-lap, 35.3km race.
Right behind the two leaders were Canada’s top riders including Kabush, defending Canadian champion Derek Zandstra of Trenton, Ont. (Scott-3 Rox Racing), Max Plaxton of Victoria (Cannondale Factory Racing) and Raphael Gagné of Québec, Que. (Rocky Mountain Bicycles).
Jette and Guthrie maintained the lead for most of the race, but Jette suffered from a jammed chain and Guthrie slowly ran out of steam. This opened the door for the chase group to bridge the gap.
Gagné attacked the exhausted Guthrie and Jette, and led the race in the fifth lap. That’s when Kabush and Zandstra worked together to close in on Gagné, and set the table for the finish. Ultimately, Kabush had lots left in the tank and made the winning move in the last kilometres to take the title in 1:39.31. Teammate Zandstra finished second in 1:39.42, while Gagné took third in 1:39.50.
“It feels really satisfying. It was really an enjoyable race, and especially great to see the level of riders,” Kabush said. “I’ll be really proud to represent the maple leaf at the World Cups. It was our goal to keep the jersey in the team, and it was really great to see the whole team ride strong,” said Kabush.
When asked about the feat of becoming the most decorated rider in history, Kabush remained grounded and humbled: “Numbers are numbers. It’s most gratifying to wear the jersey again. A big thanks to all our sponsors. They have provided awesome support to the team. It’s another jersey for the tickle-trunk, but most importantly I’ll be really proud to wear the Maple Leaf once more around the world.
“It was an exciting finish, with so many guys together in the last lap. I saved a little bit of that mental energy for the last push. I just had to put my head down. I was in the chase group all day, and we weren’t letting up.
“The gap stretched out, but we were keeping it in check. When we saw Cameron on the side of the trail, Derek and I knew it was now our responsibility to get up there,” said Kabush.
FINISH LINES Kabush won the overall title of the US Cup series this year to become the winningest mountain biker of the American-based series with a total of five overall titles … Kabush has consistently been among the world’s best mountain bikers at major international events … at the last Olympic Games in London, Kabush posted Canada’s best-ever result in men’s mountain biking, finishing eighth … he boasts two Top 10 performances at Olympic Games (9th, Sydney 2000; 8th, London 2012) …his best World Championships results came in 2009 when he placed fifth in Canberra, Australia … racing in Canada at the 2010 World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Kabush also cracked the top 10, finishing eighth … he has nine World Cup podiums to his credit … Kabush was a member of the Canadian Team Relay that won gold at the 2004 World Championships in Les Gets, France and silver at the 2005 World Championships in Canberrra, Australia … follow Cycling Canada on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cyclingcanada and Facebook at www.facebook.com/cyclingcanada …
– Cycling Canada