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Cumberland crowns 2024 BC Bike Race champions after wild week on Vancouver Island

Cumberland crowns 2024 BC Bike Race champions after wild week on Vancouver Island

In most stage races, positions are mostly sorted out by the final day. The opposite was true at this year’s BC Bike Race. On the men’s side, the top two were separated by less than a minute coming into Day 7 racing in Cumberland, B.C. On the women’s side, a dramatic day of racing saw the top two riders in the overall finish outside the podium. New stage winners, overall podium changes, mechanicals and biomechancals and an an impossibly tight race for the Fox Timed Downhill titles, Cumberland had it all. What a way to wrap up a week of racing on Vancouver Island.

Haley Smith earns the final stage win of the 2024 BC Bike Race. Photo: Deniz Merdano

Pro women’s pandemonium electrifies Cumberland finale

This year’s pro women’s field is deep and racing has been tight. The leader’s jersey changed hands daily until stage 5, when Evelyn Dong managed to hold onto it for consecutive stages. Maghalie Rochette went on the attack in Campbell River, and was rewarded for her solo effort with a return to yellow at the end of stage 6. That set up a thrilling race for the podium on Sunday’s final day of racing.

Rochette, knowing no lead was safe this week, went on the offensive early. The multi-time Canadian cyclocross national champion (and former BC Bike Race winner with Catharine Pendrel), escaped the rest of the women early. In pursuit were Haley Smith, finding a burst of speed at the week’s end, Katerina Nash, Catharine Pendrel and Hannah Simms. With stage wins and overall placings still up for grabs, Rochette was getting no gifts on Sunday.

One rider missing from the fray was Evelyn Dong. The veteran U.S. racer battled a bout of food poisoning overnight and was working hard to limit her losses.

“Yeah, I had a little bit of a rough night. But you know, everyone’s run down at the end of a stage race. This shit happens. So I just gave it a good shot,” Dong said after the finish line. How do you manage tired legs and the after effects of illness? “Ooh, I didn’t have much of a strategy. Warming up I knew couldn’t go at all. I tried to hang in off the start and once I knew I wasn’t going to be able to even hang on the road, i just backed off and tried to ride my pace.”

Dong would end up just 95 seconds back of Rochette at the finish line. But instead of battling for first and second, the leading duo finished the stage fourth and fifth.

A very flat tire. Photo: Jens Klett

“Today I had a minute and a half lead but I knew Evelyn would…

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