Cyclocross 2016 Nationals
2016 NATIONAL CX CHAMPIONSHIPS
In cold and wet conditions, 11 titles were awarded at the 2016 Canadian Cyclo-cross Championships held on Nov. 5 at a new venue in Jacques Cartier Park in Sherbrooke, Que., hosted by Club Cycliste de Sherbrooke. True cyclocross conditions, including several crashes and a technical course that received rave reviews, were the order of the day as a record 332 riders were on hand for a memorable and emotional day of racing.
Maghalie Rochette (QC, LUNA Pro Team) claimed her first Elite women's National cyclocross jersey with a stellar performance that none could match. Taking charge early on, she built a lead over her closest rival, Sandra Walter (Liv Cycling Canada) in second, with defending champion Mical Dyck (Naked Factory Racing) in third.
Dyck looked strong off the start, but was not able to sustain her pace, and soon Rochette, who was just behind in the chase group, advanced to take the lead on the first lap of four, which she didn't relinquish, taking a decisive win.
Walter was steady in second, as Dyck was challenged by Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (QC, SAS-Macogep p/b Mazda), who was caught behind in an early crash for the final podium spot. But Dyck held on, with Ferrier-Bruneau taking fourth and Natasha Elliott (QC, Garneau-Easton Cycling) in fifth.
“This is a long time coming,” said Rochette at the finish, as she celebrated with her family. “This year, the CX Nationals are in my backyard, so it's great to share this victory with family and friends. I get to wear the Maple Leaf jersey, but there are so many people to thank who have helped me get here,” she told Pedal.
A new champion was also crowned in the Elite men's battle as Jeremy Martin (QC, Focus CX Team Canada) emerged as the strongest rider to take a well-deserved victory for his first National cyclocross title. His teammate, Albertan Aaron Schooler, finished second, with veteran 'crosser and multi-decorated Geoff Kabush (BC, Scott-3 Rox Racing) in third.
Defending champion Raphael Gagné (QC, Cannondale 360fly p/b Sugoi) took an early lead, but he was quickly surpassed by Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce Cycling X Garneau), who was on fire and forced everyone to chase. McConnell's lead was up to 16 seconds, but the chasers were slowly gaining, and by the halfway mark, Kabush and Schooler had moved into second and third, with Martin fourth and more chasers, including Gagné, just behind.
As McConnell faded, it was Martin who surged to the front. Kabush faltered with an untimely crash, but was quickly up. Still, this allowed Schooler to take over second, which was how they finished.
The two Focus CX riders were now in charge as Martin claimed a strong win and was all smiles with his first National jersey, with Schooler on the podium in second and Kabush in third. McConnell held on for a solid fourth, as Michael van den Ham (AB, Garneau-Easton Cycling) took fifth and Gagné finished sixth.
“Geoff Kabush and I were able to bridge to McConnell, who had a strong start, and my teammate Aaron Schooler was there as well. We took the lead when McConnell crashed, and then Kabush crashed with about two laps to go, so I just made sure to keep safe until the finish. Great that Aaron was second . . . I'm super-happy to wear the Maple Leaf jersey for the year to come,” said Martin. “It's hard to believe. I've been training for this for the last year and a half.”
In the U23 men's competition, Peter Disera (Norco Factory Team) dominated the race from the get-go for an unchallenged victory with his brother Quinton Disera, now also with Norco, in second at 2:10 behind.
Peter Disera took the holeshot and never looked back, as Trevor O'Donnell (Realdeal/D'Ornellas p/b Garneau) claimed the final podium spot. “I was men-
tally prepared for today's race and some strong battles with O'Donnell and Raphael Auclair. With a strong start and good gap with my brother in second, we just kept the pressure on,” commented the winner. “It was a course that suited me, and I'm happy with how I rode today.”
Sidney McGill delivered another Focus CX Team Canada victory as she also took home her first National jersey in the 12km U23 women's race, out-duelling defending champion Ruby West (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld.com).
West, who was leading, suffered an untimely crash on the slippery course, which opened the door for McGill. Erica Leonard (Angry Johnny's p/b Norco & Garneau) was third. “It was a tough course,” said McGill. “I took a short break after my MTB season and then raced some cyclocross events in preparation for Nationals – I'm really happy to win the title.”
Ontario's Gunnard Holmgren (Garneau-Easton Cycling) battled back to claim the junior men's National champion title, with Martin Conor (TaG Cycling/Norco) only two seconds behind in second and Tyler Clark (KMS Cycling) at 52 seconds back in third.
The three formed a lead group early on, with Holmgren and Conor taking turns at the front as early-leader Clark began to fade. In the end, Holmgren prevailed to take the win. “I was second last year, so Nationals was a big goal for me and everything came together, so I'm really happy,” said Holmgren. “The course was tough and technical and I made a couple of slip-ups, but in the end, I was able to recover and take the win.”
The morning session saw the Masters and U17, U15 and U13 races start off the day as cyclocross fever hit Sherbrooke for a successful day of racing and celebrations. The organization was amazing, with the expo including Siboire Brewery to keep spectators and fans in a cheering mood for the courageous athletes who braved the day.
(facing left) Maghalie Rochette claimed her first Elite women's National cyclocross jersey. (facing above) Sandra Walter took home the silver. (facing below left) Aaron Schooler battled to second in the Elite men’s race. (facing below right) Mark McConnell held on for fourth after leading for the first half of the race. (top) Jeremy Martin earned a well-deserved victory for the Elite men’s title. (left) All 2016 Cyclocross National winners take the stage.