Sporting the new pre-production Shimano XT Di2 drivetrain, Cory Wallace said the placebo effect of the electronic components went straight to his legs today, helping him to pedal like a machine to take the stage win and the yellow jersey on Day 1 of the 2016 BC Bike Race in Cumberland, BC. His teammate Spencer Paxson, also equipped with the new equipment from Shimano, cruised in with fellow North American Stephen Ettinger just a minute in arrears for third.
Both Kona riders are well positioned as they embark on the next week of racing. There is a big journey ahead, and this year’s historically wet conditions will certainly add an extra degree of challenge. “The jet lag is all washed away after today!” said a smiling and mud splattered Paxson after the 56km Stage 1. He and Ettinger flew directly to the BC storyline from XC Worlds in Czech Republic. “It was good to weather this first day patiently, and get one of us in yellow. Cory squirreled his way to the front on the first singletrack and got a nice little gap. With him off the front I rode conservatively and took the opportunity to monitor the other guys at the front end. There’s lots to go, and after last year I’m taking a more judicious approach. Cory will be a good guy to work for. We’ll look out for each other out there.”
A lead group of eight riders separated quickly on the first climb out of Cumberland. The group included Wallace and Paxson, along with heavy hitter Ettinger and a big contingent from Rocky Mountain a few marathon superstars from Europe. The slippery trails thinned the group out even further until it was only the tried and true Pacific Northwesterners off the front and at home in the muck.
Racers travel from Cumberland to Powell River for Stage 2, which will start on Friday morning. The forecast is calling for non-stop rain, which will make an already heavy singletrack day even more onerous. There are no huge climbs on Day 2, but unrelenting stretches of deep, mossy forest trails have traditionally been a chance for front runners to get out ahead and hide. That is if they can keep up with the full body effort.
Stay tuned for updates here on the COG and wish our Kona crew the best as they get deeper into the BC singletrack!