Cana­dian Cy­clocross Cham­pi­ons Crowned


Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by David Mal­tais

unny con­di­tions greeted ath­letes for the 2017 Cana­dian Cy­clocross Cham­pi­onships in Sher­brooke, Que., where 11 ti­tles were awarded, head­lined by Chris­tel Fer­rier-Bruneau (QC, SAS Maco­gep Ac­quisio) and Michael van den Ham (AB, Garneau-Eas­ton p/b Tran­si­tions LifeCare), who each won their first Elite women’s and Elite men’s Na­tional ti­tles.

In the Elite women’s five-lap race, Fer­rier-Bruneau, from France and now a Cana­dian ci­ti­zen, bat­tled with de­fend­ing cham­pion Maghalie Ro­chette (QC, Clif Pro Team), as the two favourites quickly es­tab­lished a gap on the chas­ing field fol­low­ing the first lap.

It was Ro­chette who at­tacked first, gain­ing 10 sec­onds on her ri­val, but Fer­rier-Bruneau never gave up, even­tu­ally clos­ing on Ro­chette in the lat­ter stages of the race. She took the lead with two laps to go and even­tu­ally claimed her first Cana­dian Cham­pi­onship jersey af­ter hav­ing been French road-race cham­pion twice in her ca­reer.

“I was los­ing a bit to Ro­chette on ev­ery tech­ni­cal sec­tion right from the start. But I was feel­ing good af­ter three laps and was con­fi­dent I could catch her,” Fer­rier-Bruneau said. “Af­ter catch­ing her, I at­tacked hard and spent the last two laps in front. It was a very nice race.” Ex-Na­tional cy­clocross cham­pion Mi­cal Dyck (BC, Naked Fac­tory Rac­ing) com­pleted the podium af­ter spend­ing most of the race in third.

For Van den Ham, his vic­tory in the Elite men’s seven-lap com­pe­ti­tion was a long-awaited jour­ney. The veteran cy­clocross’er fought hard at both the 2015 and 2016 Cy­clocross Na­tion­als, but now was fi­nally his time.

He quickly re­cov­ered af­ter a chal­leng­ing, fast start ini­ti­ated by Mark McCon­nell (AB, Hot Sauce Cy­cling) and made his way to the front, where he started to ap­ply pres­sure in the lead group of five that in­cluded Ge­off Kabush (BC, Scott Sports-Maxxis), Léan­dre Bouchard (QC, BH SR Sun­tour KMC) and Raphael Gagné (QC, Can­non­dale-3Rox Rac­ing).

Bouchard suf­fered a punc­ture, and then Van den Ham and McCon­nell charged to the front, forc­ing Kabush and Gagné to chase, as the duo soon made it a two-horse race. But Van den Ham was on a mis­sion, and dropped McCon­nell on the fourth lap and would not be caught.

“McCon­nell was push­ing the pace and cre­ated a gap with Gagné and Kabush,” ex­plained Van den Ham. “I sort of had a se­cret weapon, which was rid­ing the run-up. I saw that McCon­nell was start­ing to hurt a lit­tle bit and mak­ing some mis­takes, so I fig­ured that was the best time to ap­ply pres­sure.

“On lap three, I rode the run-up and opened a five-sec­ond gap and then tried to ride as smooth and fast as pos­si­ble. I knew I could never count Kabush out, and he was com­ing up strong in the end. But on the last lap, I was pretty con­fi­dent I could win it.”

Kabush even­tu­ally caught McCon­nell and dropped him to take over sec­ond, as both rid­ers fin­ished sil­ver and bronze re­spec­tively in the ex­cit­ing race, with Gagné fourth.

On­tario’s Ruby West has been on fire and headed into the fourlap U23 women’s race as one of the top favourites. With de­fend­ing cham­pion Sid­ney McGill (Fo­cus CX Canada) ill, the door was open, and West proved she was up to the chal­lenge, even­tu­ally dom­i­nat­ing the event.

She over­came a rough start to catch lo­cal Sher­brooke star Magdeleine Val­lières af­ter the first lap and then never looked back. “Some girls started pretty fast, and it took me some time to catch up,” said West. “When I fi­nally caught Val­lières, I was able to open up a bit of a gap. It worked and I kept push­ing un­til the end.”

In the U23 men’s six-lap race, Raphael Au­clair (QC, Pivot Cy­clesOTE) pow­ered through with a strong start and an early lead from the get-go. The only one who sur­vived Au­clair’s blis­ter­ing pace was Brody San­der­son (ON, Cen­tu­rion Nextwave), who even­tu­ally caught the Pivot Cy­cles-OTE rider on the sec­ond lap.

“I knew San­der­son would come back, since he’s been rid­ing pretty strong,” ex­plained Au­clair. “On the sec­ond lap, I was try­ing to dial in my lines and keep calm. San­der­son got back on my wheel, so I started to play a tac­ti­cal game.

“I watched how he took his lines and fig­ured out where the best place was to at­tack him. On the last lap, I knew that if it came to a sprint he would be hard to beat. So I started putting pres­sure on. I was fast on the run-up on the stairs so I just went as fast as I could, got a small gap and it held on un­til the fin­ish.”

In the Ju­nior men’s five-lap, Tyler Clark (ON, KMS Cy­cling-Killing­ton Moun­tain) was unstoppable, tak­ing an early lead and forc­ing ev­ery­one to chase. In the end, Colton Woods (ON, Trek

Store CC) fol­lowed Clark in sec­ond, with Wil­liam Côté (QC, Dal­bix Sher­brooke) land­ing third on the fi­nal podium.

In the Mas­ters races that kicked off the Cham­pi­onships, Caitlin Cal­laghan (AB, Hard­core Bikes) took the Women’s 30-39 ti­tle, while Alana Heise (AB, Ter­ras­cape Rac­ing) was the Women’s 40+ win­ner. Terry Tom­lin (NS, Oak­ley At­lantic Rac­ing) took the Men’s 50-59 vic­tory, with Michel Hamel (QC, Club Cy­cliste de Sher­brooke) earn­ing the Men’s 60+ jersey. Aroussen Laflamme (QC, TrekGPL) won a close race in the Men’s 40-49 cat­e­gory over Frédéric Fran­coeur (QC, Dal­bix Sher­brooke) in sec­ond and Fred­eric Auger (QC, Laflam­mer­ouge) in third. In the Men’s 30-39 race, Thierry Lal­ib­erte (QC, YPC Bolle) bested Aaron Schooler (AB, Fo­cus CX Canada) by three sec­onds.

Elite men’s fast start (l-r) Raphael Gagne, Mark McCon­nell

(holeshot) and Ge­off Kabush

New Elite women’s champ Chris­tel Fer­rier-Bruneau

Michael van den Ham’s vic­tory in the Elite men’s race was a

long-awaited jour­ney.

Cy­clocross Na­tional


Ruby West claimed the

U23 women’s ti­tle.

Raphael Au­clair took home the U23 men’s ti­tle.

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