Rochette Takes Gutsy Fifth at 2017 CX World Championships
Maghalie Rochette, reigning Canadian Elite women’s National champion from St-Jerome, Que., delivered a gutsy breakthrough ride on Jan 28, the opening day of the 2017 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, claiming a stunning fifth in the Elite women’s race in Bieles, Luxembourg at her debut Worlds.
Despite a poor start, Rochette was able to move up quickly, establishing herself in the top-10 at the start of the second of five laps. Ice and mud made for an extremely slick course, with many riders crashing on the tricky off-camber climbs and descents.
Rochette held her own, moving up to fifth by the start of lap three, and sat at the back of the lead group as Sanne Cant of Belgium battled with Marianne Vos of The Netherlands, a seven-time world champion. On the final lap, Vos attacked, with only Cant able to respond as the Belgium took the win over Vos, while Rochette rode in to claim a stellar fifth.
“I had a horrible start,” admitted Rochette, “but I just kept paying attention to what was ahead, and when there was a crash, I was able to get around it and I was able to catch up to the front group. After that, I just kept moving forward. I had a clean race and didn’t really crash, so it was pretty amazing and I’m really happy. I didn’t think about it [top five], and I have a lot of people to thank – my boyfriend and coach, my family, my teammates and Cyclo-cross Canada [sic]. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m super-happy and thrilled about it.”
Edmonton’s, Alta.’s Michael van den Ham was the top Canadian in the Elite men’s race, finishing 38th in the event won by Wout van Aert of Belgium. Van den Ham was followed by reigning National champion Jeremy Martin of Quebec City in 47th and Mark McConnell of Calgary in 55th.
“All in all, I’m very pleased with the race I managed to put together. Looking back on the race, I think what I achieved was close to my best possible race on the day,” said Van den Ham. “Of course, there were a few mistakes here and there, a flat and a crash on the first lap, but given the chaotic nature of the course and hearing the stories from other riders, I feel like I came away relatively unscathed.”
Following the race, McConnell, who has made a name for himself in European cyclocross with his “Hot Sauce” brand, commented, “It was really muddy today, but I’ve never had more fun at a race. I had the worst luck, crashed at the start and had a flat – it was just carnage today. There was obstacle after obstacle, but the crowd was fantastic.”
In the junior men’s race, Gunnar Holmgren of Orillia, Ont. finished 22nd, with fellow Canadians Brody Sanderson in 25th and Noah Simms crossing the line in 46th.
In the Under-23 men’s and women’s races, Canada’s lone entrants were Trevor O’Donnell of Barrie, Ont. and Ruby West of Dundas, Ont. West finished 26th in her race, while O’Donnell crossed the line on the muddy course in 46th.
Canada’s Maghalie Rochette at the finish following a stellar breakthrough ride to claim 5th at her debut CX Worlds in Luxembourg.