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Nadon opens mountain bike season on a roll at Bear Mountain

Posted on March 6, 2016

VICTORIA, B.C. – The wheels are turning for Marc-Antoine Nadon on another mountain bike season, one in which the Timmins cyclist hopes to earn a spot on the national team headed to the Czech Republic this summer.

So far, so good for the 21-year-old, who placed first in his U23 age group and seventh overall in the senior elite bracket Saturday during the first Canada Cup race of the season at Bear Mountain in Victoria, B.C.

“It was really a nice start to the season,” said Nadon, who will turn 22 years old in April. “I made a number of changes over the past year — I have a new coach (Kevin Simms), and I’m still looking for a new team to join this season — so it was nice to start off well with all those things going on.

“With the changes I made this year, it was nice to see that all the homework we’ve done lately has paid off.”

Nadon and the other racers had a chance to break in the brand-new course at Bear Mountain over the weekend. His time of 1:34:22 placed him at the top of the U23 racers and just a few minutes off the pace set by top overall finisher Raphael Gagné from Québec City (1:31:06).

“It’s a nice spot,” said Nadon about Bear Mountain. “They have a great organization there, they did a really great job and worked really hard on the course they built, so it was a very enjoyable race.”

It was in late October that Nadon first brought Simms on as his coach. Simms is based in Barrie, where Nadon spends most of his summers.

But it was far from home, on the sunny coast of California, that Nadon’s pre-season journey began a few months ago.

He rented a house in Oxnard, a coastal city in the shadows of the Santa Monica Mountains located between Malibu and Santa Barbara. He spent a month training there before joining the Ontario provincial team for more practice in Ramona and San Diego.

That all led to a return to Victoria last week for the big race to open the Canada Cup season.

“We were doing about 25 hours per week on average of training,” explained Nadon. “It was really a full-time job, days of five or six hours on the bike.”

But far from tiring his spirit, it only made Nadon’s love for the sport grow.

“It’s like I’m having more and more fun every time I get on the bike,” he said. “I think that’s the key: You can’t do something at 100% of your capacity if you don’t love it.”

Nadon will continue competing in as many Canada Cup and US Cup races as he can, in addition to his Ontario Cup events. He’s hoping that will all lead to a spot on the Canadian World Championship team that will head to the Czech Republic in June.

“That’s the goal for the year, to make that team,” said Nadon. “With the race I had yesterday (on Saturday), I feel like it’s a pretty good start for me and maybe I’ve put myself in a good spot to be on the national team.”

The makeup of Team Canada will depend in large part on the results of upcoming races, including on the US Cup circuit, where Nadon will stay in California to compete at Bonelli Park on April 9, then at the Sea Otter Classic on April 16.

“I had an idea where I might be able to finish, but I think I even surpassed my own expectations,” admitted Nadon. “We didn’t really have anything to base ourselves on, especially so early on in the season, but the training sessions were going really well, we were putting up good numbers, so we just needed to put it into action in a race.”

Story by: Benjamin Aubé