France's Isabeau Coudurier has been on the CamelBak Canadian Open Enduro podium in each of the past five years, but on Aug. 11, she stood atop it for the first time.
Coudurier, who finished one spot behind countrywoman Cecile Ravanel the past four years, was second in each of the past three Whistler races. But with Ravanel sidelined for the season after a crash in the winter, Coudurier has filled the void, winning all six races (and each event's Queen stage complete with bonus points in the overall standings), including a winning performance in Whistler, to gain a strong grip on the overall title.
"It's been a really intense day. We had some crazy conditions up there. I had some mistakes. I crashed," she said. "I'm pretty stoked that I could still win with all of this going on."
In the contest, held over two days for the first time, Coudurier put up a six-stage time of one hour, one minute and 59.71 seconds (1:01:59.71) to hold off Israel's Noga Korem by 15.78 seconds and Squamish's Andreane Lanthier Nadeau by 29.19 seconds.
The race kicked off on Aug. 10 with just one round, a doozy from Top of the World that had traditionally closed out the race as the final stage. It worked out well for Coudurier, as her margin of victory in Stage 1 proved to be roughly the same amount she won by overall. The cushion proved necessary, as Coudurier crashed hard in Stage 1 and again in Stage 6, though her first injury didn't show up until the next day.
"I could feel I had some pain in my leg and it was there all day," she said. "On the last one, I crashed again and hurt myself a bit more.
"It's always hard, but I think in your head, you have to convince yourself it's OK. It's fine to just keep going. You have to keep it smooth and try to really avoid thinking too much about it."
Lanthier-Nadeau, meanwhile, was thrilled to hit her second podium of the season in her own backyard. Breaking the race into two days was a benefit, she said, as she gained confidence out of the gate with a blistering run from Top of the World.
"It took me awhile to get good runs here in Whistler. I don't know what it is, but it's a challenging one," she said. "I changed my strategy for the one stage from Top of the World. I usually tried to pace my self, but this one time, I tried to go for it right from the start.
"I died a little and then I came back to life because you have time to do that in that stage."
While Lanthier-Nadeau enjoyed doing the stage while still fresh, she acknowledged that she-and, almost certainly, her fellow competitors-were still feeling its effects throughout Sunday's racing.
As well, with rain re-emerging and leaving courses wet and slick, it was an additional hazard on course.
"The rain was a big added challenge," she said. "It's going to be hard for anyone.
"I just kept going and I knew Jaws to Billy [Epic, in Stage 2] was going to be a good fit for me, it's so Canadian. There was perfect riding in there and I was super confident in my bike setup, in my riding."
Lanthier-Nadeau had some mixed results from there, feeling strong in Stage 3 on Blackcomb before struggling in the mud in Creekside later on.
Other Canadian women in the top 30 were: Squamish's Miranda Miller (ninth); Pemberton's Emily Slaco (12th); Whistler resident Leonie Picton, representing Australia (17th); Jennifer McHugh (18th); Katie Spittlehouse (28th); and Angeline McKirdy (29th).
On the men's side, Richie Rude took his third win in Whistler, but his first since 2016. The American got off to a good start, as he was the lone rider to complete Stage 1 in less than 20 minutes, and he kept it going on Day 2, finishing in 52:41.29 and besting runner-up Sam Hill of Australia by 55.39 seconds. New Zealand's Edward Masters was third, 1:24 back.
"It feels good. I had a couple years where it didn't go as well and to win again feels so good," he said. "I love racing here and it feels even better to win here."
In addition to it being more muddy and wet than in his prior victories, the two-day split was also different, and something Rude felt benefitted his return to the top.
"I wasn't sure about it at first, but I think it was cool having that first one and you could put all the effort into it," he said. "You knew where you'd sit for the second day, so that was pretty cool, and it allowed for a bigger range of trails for today.
"Having the big stage [on Saturday] and doing well on it allowed me to chill a little bit and be a little safe."
Canadians in the top 30 included: Remi Gauvin (sixth); Squamish's Rhys Verner (17th); and Whistler's Jesse Melamed (29th).
In the amateur categories, winners were: Cedric Ravanel of France (master men 40-plus); Canada's Jack Menzies (under-21 men); Louise Margareta Paulin of Sweden (master women 35-plus); and Lucy Schick (under-21 women). Whistler residents who podiumed were Julia Long in under-21 women and Cesar Gairin in master men 40-plus.
For complete results, visit www.enduroworldseries.com.
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