Cory Wallace is no stranger to marathon or stage racing, and is eager to use his experience in Europe to contest for a top ten result at the XCM Worlds later this month. The 29-year-old Kona Factory team rider will spearhead the challenge in the Maple Leaf jersey of Canada at the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships on Sunday 29 June.
Wallace caught the eye of the serious racers during the past eighteen months after back to back wins in the Mongolia Challenge, and claiming the Canadian national title and the Otaki 120 race in Japan. Wallace also claimed two stage wins in the tough Crocodile Trophy in Australia in 2013.
After shaking off illness at the start of this year, the Jasper, Alberta native again made headlines by winning the Australian Marathon series title in the final race of the series. Wallace feels that his career is on a solid trajectory, and he hopes to make an impact on the 2014 marathon world title decider in Pietermaritzburg.
“I have raced many of these guys at different races around the world and I know I can ride with all but a handful of them if I stay focused and keep a positive spin on things,” says Wallace. “It sounds like the course is pretty balanced so the climbing goats may suffer a little and it is somewhat technical which should help as well,” he added.
“It is my first Worlds so I plan on getting into the mix early to give myself a chance to be in contention later on in the race and fight for a top position,” said Wallace. “A top 10 would be amazing, a top 15 or 20 maybe more realistic.”
Wallace feels that the grounding from racing on the notoriously tough European circuit will stand him in good stead.
“Last year our team came to Europe to take part in the Bike 4 Peaks and Alpentour races. They were eye openers for us as we are used to riding loads of singletrack back in North America, not climbing on fireroads for 2000-3000 meters of vertical a day,” he explains. “It has helped us become fitter which, combined with our trail riding skills, made us nearly unstoppable back on our side of the ocean. This year I knew it would be key to come race the Alpen Tour in Europe before Worlds to push myself deep into the pain cave to prepare for the talent that there will be in South Africa. The riding over here is purely fitness based which makes it the perfect place to get some good form into the legs. Being in Europe will also help adjust to the same time zone as South as well as the chance to purely focus on training and recovery without the distractions of being at home.”
“After the Alpen Tour travels I will head to Italy to race the Sellronda Hero and do some last prep with the Mongolia Bike Challenge crew. It is always fun to come over to the hub of the cycling World as the riders are really talented and everything is done really professionally over here in Europe.”
Wallace started off with his sights set on a career in Ice Hockey, and only rode as part of his fitness routine.
“When my hockey career didn’t pan out I switched over to racing fulltime at 23 and I have enjoyed travelling the globe and meeting new people at races in some pretty interesting places!”
The UCI MTB Marathon World Championships takes place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg on 29 June 2014. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za. And the racing will be streamed live.