Pendrel proves too strong for Batty in Canada CupPosted on March 6, 2017
Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist
MARCH 4, 2017 10:52 PM – From Rio de Janeiro to Bear Mountain, Catharine Pendrel and Emily Batty resumed their epic rivalry, with the same outcome.
Pendrel outkicked Batty to the finish line Saturday to win the 2017 Canada Cup women’s mountain bike race on Bear Mountain, much as she did in outsprinting Batty to the podium last summer in the 2016 Olympic Games to capture bronze while relegating her Canadian rival to a tormenting fourth place.
Defending 2016 Canada Cup men’s champion and Rio Olympian Raphael Gagne, from Quebec City, repeated Saturday on Bear Mountain.
Three-time Olympian Geoff Kabush of Victoria was second in the men’s race as the native of Courtenay, twice top-10 in the Olympics and turning 40 next month, showed he still has it.
It was Pendrel’s second consecutive women’s title. She also shunted Batty, from Oshawa, Ont., to second place last year in the Canada Cup. Do you see a pattern emerging?
Pendrel was met by her nieces, four-year-old Fiona and two-year-old Claire, after crossing the finish line Saturday atop Bear Mountain.
She will always have that Olympic medal to show them, and her gold medals from the Pan Am Games and Commonwealth Games.
Pendrel has had seven months to let Rio sink in: “What’s it feel like to win an Olympic medal? It feels like relief.”
Despite her two world titles, she finally reached the podium at the event the public most recognizes.
“I was so proud of my performance in Rio. I overcame a lot of adversity to finally bring home an Olympic medal,” she said.
The three-time Olympian feels for Batty.
“I was fourth at Beijing in 2008, so I know what that feels like,” said Pendrel, a graduate of the University of Victoria, who learned her craft on the trails of the Lower Island.
“Emily is so skilled and has so much to look forward to in her career. To be fourth in the Olympics is an amazing achievement. We both poured our hearts and souls into it at Rio.”
Pendrel is non-committal about a fourth Olympics at Tokyo 2020: “I am taking it one year at a time. Could be . . . who knows?”
At 36, the body comes more into question. “I am not going to be the same athlete,” Pendrel said.
“But athletes are constantly adapting. I still feel young and fast.”
Yet at this point in a career, looking back is only natural. Three communities played a role in getting Pendrel to the Olympic podium: “Harvey Station [N.B.] is home. Victoria is where I learned and hit my stride as a cyclist and where I became an athlete. Kamloops is where I now live.”
It explains why hometowns vary in news stories about athletes. Pendrel said she answers to all three communities.
The Canada Cup, along a six-kilometre loop course on the mountain, began the 2017 racing season and attracted more than 500 participants in youth, junior and senior elite categories.