For the 10th straight year, the BC Bike Race made the trek to Squamish for a long day of rowdy trail riding. On the plate was a 33-mile grind with 6378 feet of climbing. Average finish time was nearly 5 hours, with many riders out there far longer.
To get a better sense of the required effort, check out the course profile here, then watch the race recap video. Full stage 6 and overall standings are here.
There is a reason Squamish is a bucket list destination. It has an unparalleled variety of trails accessible right from town. Stage 6, presented by Shimano, took riders through a checklist of trail styles. From raw, to steep, to machined built jump trails, the variety left no one disappointed.
It was also the day a local would defeat an international field represented by 36 countries. This is where a hometown strong-man can rest where others struggle to adjust to the terrain that holds secrets around each corner and rewards precise wheel placement.
“The goal was two steps forward on the descents and one step back on the climbs,” said Quinn Moberg (Rocky Mountain), stage 6 winner.
Three key components that every mountain bike racer needs are fitness, trail skills, and strategy. If you have strategy you can use your strengths and weaknesses to your full advantage for success where pure numbers may not be on your side.
Moberg may only be 22, but his strategic skills are sharp. The Squamish local executed his plan without hesitation by entering the opening section of singletrack three corners ahead and proceeded to flow every piece of trail while his opponents made small mistakes that began to stack up in a time deficit.
“I wanted to attack before the first descent,” revealed Moberg. “I didn’t want anyone around when I was descending because I didn’t want anyone to see how I was being efficient.”
Spencer Paxson and Cory Wallace (Kona Bikes) had a feeling that Moberg would be attacking from the gun and countered with their own strategy to protect the leaders jersey for Kona. A strong start fell apart at the bottom of Pseudo-Tsuga when Wallace flatted. He told Paxson to continue on when Stephen Ettinger (Ride Biker Alliance/ Focus) and Manuel Weissenbacher (Craft Rocky Mountain) bridged back up as the Kona boys fiddled with a flat tire.
Moberg held his lead and put almost 5 minutes into the rest of the field, while Paxson held off Weissenbacher who got his best finish of the race with a third on the day. Wallace managed to get back into the game and finished at the line one second behind the Austrian.
“It was a group of six at the beginning of the seven days, then it was a group of three, and now it’s down to two teammates,” said Paxson. “These races come down to memorable duke-fests with your buddies. It’s as good as it gets.”
For the stage 7 finale expect to see some friendly competition, as the Kona teammates attack each other, while Paxson’s roommate Ettinger brings the Olympic ready legs to the start line. The French Marathon National Champion Frederic Gombert (CycleTyres) has stated his desire to win a stage and will be gunning hard to make that dream come true. It has been a good race all week and the last day in Whistler is on a similar trajectory.
As for the open women, Kelli Emmett (Juliana SRAM) stacked her lead heavily again today with a 14-minute gap on second place Sammi Runnels (Ride Biker Alliance). Kaysee Armstrong (LIV Giant) was another 10 minutes back in third.
Next up is the final day’s famed Whistler stage, but with major change from year’s past. The course will be a point-to-point race that will use more of the trails that explore a wider variety of the Whistler zone. Starting at Bayly Park the race will travel 26km to finish in Rainbow Park. Expect a race that is slightly harder and longer than the traditional circuit. This is the last chance for riders to soak up the race experience before returning to the life they left behind a week ago.