With the incredible depth of the Canadian women’s cross country program, 2019 national championships were set to be a battle.

As temperatures soared at Hardwood Ski & Bike and riders joined, then dropped off the lead group, the only consistent at the front of the race was Emily Batty.

The Brooklin, Ont. rider rode through heat and stiff competition to earn her fourth straight elite women’s XCO national championship on Saturday.

“It’s been a while since I felt good and strong,” Batty said after the race, “so I’ll take it as a win!”

 

On course at the same time, Laurie Arseneault (ACQ) defender her national championship title in the under-23 women’s race.

 

Elite Women – How the race unfolded

Off the start, it was Haley Smith (Norco Factory Team), Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) and Jennifer Jackson (AWI Racing) who established an early led. The three Ontario racers were eventually joined by multiple-time national champion and Olympic medallist Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro Team). Almost as soon as Pendrel joined the group, Smith left it. The Uxbridge, Ont. rider had a mechanical issue, looking like a dropped chain, and lost contact with the lead group. Batty wasn’t waiting around, however. On the constantly climbing or descending course, the Brooklin, Ont. rider was pushing the pace at the front. Pendrel was chasing to hold the wheel, with Jackson trailing not far behind. Pendrel then crashed, going over the bars trying to hold Batty’s pace. After dusting herself off, the Clif Pro Team rider joined up with Jackson to try chase down Batty, who was alone off the front. Going onto the the third of five laps, Sandra Walter (Liv International) was now riding in fourth position. The chasing duo of Pendrel and Jackson were briefly able to make contact with Batty. Riding on a still-to-be-released Trek dual suspension bike, with the shock concealed by a black fabric sheath, Batty was feeling good. She attacked again, leaving Pendrel chasing solo and Jackson riding in third. On the final lap, Batty had established a solid lead, but the podium positions were still very much up in the air. Walter was closing in fast on a late-race surge. The Coquitlam, B.C. rider was soon past Jackson, and looking to chase down Pendrel in front of her.

Emily Batty crossed the line, alone off the front of the race. The Trek Factory Racing rider wins her fourth consecutive XCO national title on the same venue where she won gold at the Pan American games in 2015.

“I actually haven’t ridden here since Pan Am’s,” Batty said after the race, “but it’s such a fun track.”

Catharine Pendrel finished second, holding off a hard-charging Sandra Walter.

“It was very hot out there,” Pendrel said after the race. “I tried to pace it early on and maybe under-paced it a little bit. Emily was definitely on fire and I just chased.”

Sandra Walter returned to the elite women’s XCO podium for a second-straight year. While she ran out of ground to chase Pendrel, Walter crossed the line third for bronze at 2019 Canadian XCO national championships.

Cindy Montambault (Equipe du Quebec) finished fourth, Jenn Jackson fifth, and Maghalie Rochette (Specialized) sixth in the elite women’s race.

After her strong start to the race, and a big start to the season internationally, Haley Smith was still positive about the event. “Today was rough,” Smith said after finishing seventh. “But you take the good with the bad. It keeps you humble when you have bad days.”

 

July 20th, 2019 by Terry McKall

 

Photo by Canadian MTB