Neal Kindree entered Saturday’s (July 7) final stage of the B.C. Bike Race with an almost four-minute cushion over two-time defending champ Chris Sheppard and needed nearly all of it to hang on and win the overall men’s solo Epic title.
Kindree suffered a flat tire as the leaders entered the Lost Lake section halfway through Saturday’s course, but the Squamish resident charged to the finish to place third for the stage and capture the seven-day race, just 15 seconds ahead of Sheppard.
“I’m stoked about it,” Kindree said of his overall victory at the Whistler Olympic Plaza finish line. “That’s what I said last year that I wanted to do — to come back and win it and I’m glad I did. I would have been choked if I had lost today because of a flat tire.
“If I had have lost it because of that, it would have ruined more than my day. I wouldn’t be drinking in celebration; I’d be drinking in sorrow, that’s for sure.”
Kindree’s cumulative finish time for the week was 16 hours, 15 minutes, 52 seconds as he picked up his first B.C. Bike Race title. Sheppard was the only rider with a real chance of catching Kindree on Saturday, but the 39-year-old said he knew that would be tough even after Kindree flatted.
“My game plan was to hammer Lost Lake as hard as I could,” Sheppard said. “But it would have been a tall order to get almost four minutes (back) in just that end section… I knew it would be almost impossible.”
Oregon’s Barry Wicks was third overall for the week at 16:34:44. Wicks was just five seconds behind Kindree after Day 5 but experienced mechanical issues Friday (July 6) in Squamish (see related article on page A27) to fall out of the running and make Saturday a two-horse race between Kindree and Sheppard.
Kindree said the strategy of letting Wicks lead the early stages seemed to pay off later in the week.
“I spent three days, basically, watching Barry ride, figuring out where he’s strong, where he’s weak and how I could get away from him,” said Kindree, who won the Whistler stage last year but placed third in the stage this year. “I think I played some really smart cards in the first half of the week, just being patient.”
Sheppard earned Saturday’s stage win at 1:11:28, while Cory Wallace was second on Saturday, clocking in at 1:14:52. Kindree’s time on the Whistler course, a 26-kilometre loop that also featured trails in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, was 1:15:08.
Wendy Simms won the women’s solo Epic stage in 1:35:27 on Saturday and won the overall title by more than 2 ½ hours over Australia’s Melinda Jackson, while New Zealand’s Hannah Thorne took third.
Team Jamis, comprised of U.S. riders Thomas Turner and Jason Sager, was the men’s Epic team of two overall winner at 17:06:54 after claiming the Whistler stage in 1:15:57. The two Rocky Mountain Bikes teams finished second and third, as Kevin Calhoun and Keith Stark were the runners-up, followed by Colin Kerr and Greg Day, the latter from Squamish.
For full results and registration info for the 2013 event, visit www.bcbikerace.com.