By Gavin Grobbelaar – Ultra Media
Photos by John Gibson
Stage 4 at Myra Canyon in Kelowna, B.C. was tipped to be one of the most action-packed stages and it definitely didn’t disappoint, throwing everything it had at the riders. From heat to long grinding climbs followed by hair-raising descents, riders got bang for their buck out there today.
The jury is still out on which has been the biggest baddest timed descent so far but the scales are leaning favorably towards today’s Vapour Trail that claimed a few victims and bikes along the way.
It was said at the finish line today that yesterday’s highly rated “Big Ed” was school for the riders, preparing them for today’s Vapour Trail with it’s yelp inducing drop-offs, fast-flowing switchbacks and dry, technical and loose rocky bits requiring complete attention for every second of the descent.
Cory Wallace once again had the throttle open as he sent the other riders a simple message: that he has plenty left in the tank and will keep twisting the grip all the way until the final stage.
Wallace led from start to finish but did not have an easy ride in the dry heat of the day on a tricky stage being chased by some inspired mountain bikers. Swedish rider Severin Nowak (Kelowna Cycle) showed up today and hung on like a bull dog the entire stage, to ensure he took the second spot on the podium and moved up the ladder to 3rd in the GC. Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette (Opus/OGC) out of Quebec took 3rd place on the stage with a solid ride.
Despite finishing in 4th place today,a rather relaxed-looking Tristan Uhl (Competitivecyclist.com) moved up to 2nd in the GC forcing riders to wonder if he is busy with a game of pin the tail on the donkey, keeping the other top contenders guessing about his intentions during the final two stages.
Wallace leads the GC by just over 13 minutes ahead of Uhl. With time running out for Uhl as the penultimate stage begins, we can only wait with bated breath as we know its not a case of “if” but “when” the move will be made.
Kate Aardal (Ridley’s Cycle) kept going like a runaway steam train, further stretching her lead making her win a formality as she looks to be clinical and close out the final two stages. While Aardal makes space on her medal display, there is an intense battle going on for the second and third step of the podium in the GC, with just 6 minutes and 75km separating the next 3 women riders over the next two days. Carmen Labbe (Kicking Horse Coffee) in 2nd place, Nicole Muzechka (Deadgoat Racing) in 3rd place and Isabel Van De Voorde are going toe-to-toe tomorrow as we expect some fierce racing as every inch counts at this stage of the race.
Starting at the Lakeside Resort in Downtown Penticton on the shores of Lake Okanagan, riders will wind their way up to Campbell Mountain meandering through the tightly knit network of trails made of narrow flowing single track with whoopy sections, giving riders tons of momentum and finally descending towards the finish through the vineyards on the shores of Lake Okanagan.
Full results here.