It was a one-two finish for Vancouver Island riders in the Elite Men division of the 2011 Canadian Mountain Bike Championships in Canmore, Alta. on Saturday. But not the one Geoff Kabush had been hoping for.
Tofino native Max Plaxton of Victoria created the biggest upset of the two-day championships by winning the Elite Men’s title and stopping Courtenay native Kabush of Victoria on his quest to make history.
The 34-year-old Kabush had a chance to accomplish something no other Canadian mountain biker has ever done — win a record eighth national title. But Plaxton took top spot while Kabush finished second. Kabush remains tied for the most Canadian titles with retired seven-time women’s national champion Alison Sydor, an Olympic silver medallist and another Island-trained mountain biker.
Plaxton sped away in the early moments of the race and kept perfect control and composure the rest of the way to win in a time of 1:38:28. Kabush finished 1:41 back.
“It feels great. I wanted the jersey for a long time,” Plaxton said. “I’ve put in a lot of efforts in the last two weeks, so it’s pretty amazing. You work hard and it pays off. Its extra special since I had a lot of friends here to watch the race,” said Plaxton, racing for Team Specialized Racing USA.
“I treated this race just like any other race. I’ve beaten Geoff in every other race in North America this season. I treated it just like any other Pro XCT’s this year, and didn’t feel any added pressure. It’s pretty good to be consistent every month – something I’ve struggled with the previous years. I am finding I am developing as a rider,” concluded Plaxton, who won the U23 Canadian title in 2005, and twice the junior title in 2002 and 2003.
Kabush, riding for Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, went on to finish second, followed by Derek Zandstra of Trenton, ON.
“Obviously, winning the title the previous six years, my goal was to come and win again, but it wasn’t the case,” said Kabush, a two-time Olympian and World Cup tour veteran. “I felt pretty good, but didn’t have the answer to Max as he was super strong today. Before my races, I always think about who my competition is, but I’ve just been doing my job.
“The racing has been going well, the training has been going well. I was confident heading into this race, but I can’t control what the other guys are doing. Max spent some time at home and brought his A-game here and he achieved his goal, so credit to him,” gracefully commented Kabush after the race.
Kabush is Canada’s greatest mountain biker with seven Canadian titles. He won his first Elite title in 2002 and then went on to win every Canadian championship race from 2005 to 2010. He and Plaxton might be teammates at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.