Catharine Pendrel returns to racing at BC Bike Race

A year after retiring from World Cup racing, Catharine Penrel will be back on the starting line. The Canadian Olympian and two-time world champion is lining up for the 16th edition of the BC Bike Race, which begins next week in the Okanagan region of British Columbia.

Pendrel isn’t the only big name heading to Kelowna for the start of the classic seven-day cross-country stage race. Past winners like Geoff Kabush and Felix Burke will face first-time BCBR riders like former WorldTour pros, US Marathon national medalists, gravel stars and current World Cup riders.

Chloe Cross has been chasing podium finishes throughout the 2021 BC Bike Race. Photo: Dave Silver

Women’s race: Pendrel returns to BCBR

BC Bike Race isn’t just Catharine Pendrel’s return to racing. It’s also the return of the Kamloop rider-turned-coach to a race she won in the past. After a year spent on the other side of the strip coaching the next generation of Canadian World Cup racers, Pendrel may not be in the same shape he was in his years at BCBR. But with an unrivaled track record, it would be a mistake to count it before the start of the race.

Current World Cup pro Sandra Walter (Liv) will lead the challengers. She’ll have to make do with U.S. National Marathon medalist and TransAndes winner Kaysee Armstrong, as well as stage race veterans like Chloe Cross and Lauren Cantwell. In a new twist, Unbound Gravel winner Amity Rockwell will line up for her first BCBR. After winning the Gravel Explorer in 2021, the Easton Overland athlete is aiming for the BCBR/Gravel Explorer double in 2022.

Felix Burke fought Andrew L’Esperance at BCBR 2021. Photo: Dave Silver

Men’s Race: Former Champions vs. Current Pros

On the men’s side, two former BCBR champions are back on the starting line to try and reclaim their crowns. Canadian campaign veteran Geoff Kabush already has several BCBR titles under his belt. He conceded his crown to Felix Burke in 2019 after an epic week of racing on the Coast. Both were beaten by Andrew L’Esperance in 2021, but 2022 will bring new and different challengers.

Carter Nieuwesteeg, currently en route to victory at Singletrack 6, will be looking to take a step – or two – to the BCBR podium. Former Canadina World Tour pro Rob Britton lines up for his first BCBR. while Britton has spent his career on the tarmac, he added Life Time Grand Prix off-road experience to his roadie power this summer with success. Giant Factory Racing’s Stephan Davoust has raw speed and endurance, with past podium finishes at the US XCO and XCM Nationals. Finally, Karsten Madsen, Mathieu Belnager-Barrette and Life Time athlete Lars Hallstrom will all line up for BCBR in the first half of a massive double stage race before heading to the five-day BCBR Gravel Explorer event on mixed surface the following week.

rock singletrack in Naramata during BC Bike Race
New locations for BCBR’s second year in the Okanagan. Photo: Dave Silver

New year, new route BC Bike Race

The BC Bike Race isn’t just for the pros, of course. Each runner will have their chance at the “ultimate single-track experience” as the race passes through the Okanagan region. After relocating to the Okanagan from Canada’s West Coast in 2021, BCBR is hitting the road again with a new route and classic travel format. The 2022 route stretches from Salmon Arm south to Penticton with stops at Vernon, Kelowna, Silver Star, Naramata and Apex Mountain along the way.

About Todd Wurtsbach

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