The 2022 Canadian racing season began on Sunday with the return of Island Cup racing to Hammerfest on Vancouver Island. 130 riders showed up for the 26th edition of Hammerfest XC, one of the longest running events on the Canadian mountain bike calendar.
With this year’s race coinciding with the end of a Canadian National Team training camp in Victoria, there was a strong field of runners at the end of Sunday’s race. However, they weren’t the only pros in attendance. Enduro elites Remi Gauvin, who grew up nearby, and Miranda Miller were there to try their hand at cross-country racing. Ellevate XC also had most of its team on the island for the race.
Overnight rain meant riders were greeted with a mix of perfect dirt, very slippery roots and the occasional extremely greasy bend in Hammerfest singletrack. Organizers have launched a new course for riders, with shorter laps linking rolling sections of single track sections and short dual track sections.
Sandra Walter and Logan Sadesky took home the victories in the Women’s and Men’s Experts. Solid Intermediate, Beginner and a separate youth course also took their turn on the Hammerfest trails.
Lief Rodgers (Giant Canada) and Ian Ackert (Stimulus Orbea) followed in second and third place for the men. With several riders from Cycling Canada camp showing up, Rémi Gauvin (Rocky Mountain Race Face) was the only rider over the age of 22 to place in the top 10.
On the women’s side, Emily Williams (Ellevate XC) and Ontario’s Dana Gilligan followed Walter (Liv Racing Collective) across the line. With Hannah Simms (Ellevate XC) and Sidney McGill of Edmonton rounding out the top 5, three provinces were represented at the top of this local XC race.
Island Cup racing continues with the second cross-country race of the season in Victoria, B.C., this Sunday. With the bulk of the Cycling Canada contingent heading south for the first XCO World Cup of the year in Brazil, the people of Vancouver Island may have their chance to battle for victory again this weekend.