Olympics Summer

Catharine Pendrel tops Olympic mountain bike team

Cycling Canada on Wednesday named the four mountain bike athletes who will compete at the London Olympics, with national champions Catharine Pendrel and Max Plaxton joined by Geoff Kabush and Emily Batty.
Catharine Pendrel won the Olympic test event held last July at Hadleigh Farm. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Cycling Canada on Wednesday named the four mountain bike athletes who will compete at the London Olympics.

National champions Catharine Pendrel and Max Plaxton will be joined by Geoff Kabush and Emily Batty as Canada has qualified the maximum two spots for both the men’s and women’s races.

"We have a very strong team," head coach Dan Proulx said in a statement. "Each of the riders has proven themselves among the best in the world. I am extremely proud of them. I know they will ride with courage in London."

Pendrel, from Kamloops, B.C., is a top contender for a mountain bike medal at the London Games. The 31-year-old, who finished fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, won the world title last season along with the Olympic test event at Hadleigh Farm outside London. She's currently No. 1 in the world rankings.

"I am thrilled to be representing Canada at the 2012 Olympics in London, and will do my best to give Canada a performance to cheer for and be proud of," said Pendrel, who captured her fourth consecutive Canadian title last weekend in Quebec.

Batty, from Brooklin, Ont., is ranked 15th in the world. The 23-year-old earned her first career World Cup podium spot earlier this season at an event in South Africa.

Kabush, from Courtenay, B.C., is the highest-ranked Canadian man at No. 28. The two-time Olympian and seven-time Canadian champion finished second at last weekend’s Canadian championships to Plaxton, who claimed his second national title.

"I've worked extremely hard the last four years to make this goal a reality," said Plaxton, an Olympic rookie who's ranked 40th. "I'm excited about both the experience and the challenge of racing the world’s best mountain bikers in London."

Canada has won two Olympic medals in mountain bike. Alison Sydor claimed the silver in the women’s race at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and Marie-Helene Premont earned a silver in 2004 in Athens.

Premont, who's currently ranked 20th in the world, was left off the Canadian Olympic team.

This year the mountain bike events will be held on the last two days of the Olympics — Aug. 11 for the women’s race and Aug. 12 for the men’s.

Canada's Olympic road cycling team will be named Thursday. The track cycling squad was announced last week.