Pendrel returns to World Cup racing less than four months after giving birth

Catharine Pendrel, who gave birth to daughter Dara on Jan. 26, made her return to World Cup mountain bike racing this weekend in Albstadt, Germany.

The 40-year-old Kamloopsian placed 52nd in the women’s cross-country Olympic race on Sunday and 34th in the short track event on Friday.

“Super happy with the first half of my race,” Pendrel wrote on Instagram on Sunday. I was able to make some good passes and feel great forward momentum.

“The wheels really came off in the second half and I dropped from 29th to 52nd. I got a taste of my old racing self today and look forward to piecing more together.”

The first two events of the World Cup season double as the final qualifiers for the postponed 2020 Olympic Summer Games, which are scheduled to run this year in Tokyo, from July 23 to Aug. 8.

Pendrel and Haley Smith occupy the two spots expected to be available for female Canadian cross-country riders at the Games. They are the only two women who have satisfied Cycling Canada criteria for cracking the Olympic squad.

Pendrel’s fifth-place finish at a World Cup event in 2019 is her ticket to Tokyo.

If another Canadian rider finishes fourth or better and ahead of Pendrel next weekend in Round 2 of the World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, the Kamloops resident will lose her spot on the Olympic team.

If not, Pendrel will qualify to compete at the Games for the fourth time.

Emily Batty of Brookin, Ont., was the top Canadian this weekend in Albstadt, finishing 27th. Loana Lecomte of France won gold, recording a time of one hour, twenty-one minutes and 38 seconds.

Pendrel finished 11 minutes and eight seconds behind Lecomte.

“Every week is going to get better and closer to where I want to be,” Pendrel said.

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