Win­ter blast a part of cy­clocross chal­lenge

Sport com­bines road and off-road bike rac­ing, and weather is part of the ap­peal

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - MIKE DAVIES Ex­am­iner Sports Di­rec­tor [email protected] pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

It was cold, windy, muddy and slip­pery – ex­actly how cy­clocross riders like it.

More than 400 of the coun­try’s best riders de­scended on Ni­cholls Oval for the 2018 Shi­mano Cana­dian Cy­clocross Na­tion­als on Satur­day. And while or­ga­niz­ers of most sports events would be dis­cour­aged when snow and frigid tem­per­a­tures fall on their out­door course not so for cy­clocross, a hy­brid of moun­tain bike and road rac­ing.

“Ev­ery­thing has met and ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions,” said race di­rec­tor John Hauser, as medals were handed out Satur­day evening. “The weather this week­end, although cold and mis­er­able by some stan­dards, has been fan­tas­tic for cy­clocross. It re­ally has been top notch. This is Cana­dian cy­clocross weather – snow, ice, mud and su­per en­ter­tain­ing.”

Hauser said spec­ta­tors also braved the cold to check it out.

“I saw spec­ta­tors who weren’t just rac­ers watch­ing along the course to­day. They were stand­ing out there tak­ing the 35- and 40kilo­me­tre-an-hour winds and mi­nus 11 de­grees tem­per­a­ture with wind­chill.”

Ab­bots­ford, B.C.’s Michael van den Ham won his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive na­tional ti­tle in the elite men’s di­vi­sion with a time of

59:56 beat­ing Ge­off Kabush by 4.02 sec­onds.

He en­joyed the course which fea­tured a 3.5-kilo­me­tre loop through Ni­cholls Oval, the Ro­tary Trail and Ro­tary Park.

“It was chang­ing all day go­ing from icy to muddy, when the sun came out, to icy but very chal­leng­ing over­all. It was a great track,” van den Ham said.

The 26-year-old won his first na­tional ti­tle last year in Sher­brooke, Que. “In a lot of ways it’s harder to win the sec­ond one than the first one be­cause all the ex­pec­ta­tion and pressure of re­peat­ing is there,” said van den Ham. “The first one was amaz­ing but I think the sec­ond one is a lit­tle bit of val­i­da­tion.”

He plans to be back in 2019 when Pe­ter­bor­ough hosts the event again. “They did a great job. It takes a lot of work to pull this off and we have great at­ten­dance here. The fans were awe­some,” he said.

The top Pe­ter­bor­ough Cy­cling Club rider in the elite men’s di­vi­sion was Alex Le­feb­vre who placed 26th.

“It was su­per ex­cit­ing,” said Le­feb­vre, 27. “All I heard all day on the course was peo­ple yelling my name. It was just wild. It was like go­ing through a tun­nel of sound. I could hear peo­ple cheer­ing for me and it was awe­some. I helped de­sign the course and run the event. It felt great to ac­tu­ally be a part of it.”

While it was a bit more snow and cold than usual for this time of year, Le­feb­vre said in Europe, where the sport is most pop­u­lar, they are nor­mal race con­di­tions.

“it can be quite mis­er­able,” he said. “We didn’t think it was out of the equa­tion to have weather like this but it was a lit­tle sur­pris­ing. It made for some in­ter­est­ing con­di­tions. It was re­ally tricky. You had to be so fo­cused on some sec­tions.”

Maghalie Ro­chette won the elite women’s di­vi­sion in a time of 45:48, a 1:34 ad­van­tage on Jenn Jack­son. Ro­chette re­claimed her ti­tle af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond last year.

Pe­ter­bor­ough na­tive Lisa Holm­gren, who now calls Oril­lia home, and her fam­ily of rac­ers all had a suc­cess­ful day. She won the mas­ters women’s 45-54 age group, her el­dest son Gun­nar won the U23 men’s di­vi­sion, daugh­ter

Ava, 13, was sec­ond in the U17 girls’ di­vi­sion, hus­band Rob was sec­ond in the men’s mas­ters 45-54 age group and daugh­ter Is­abella was fourth in U17 girls.

“It was awe­some to have lots of fam­ily and friends out cheer­ing,” said Lisa Holm­gren, whose mother, Donna McGil­vray, was there to snap her pic­ture with the gold medal. “The best thing was to see my kids, es­pe­cially my son, take the jer­sey.

“For my race it was muddy but there was still a lot of grip,” said Lisa Holm­gren. “A lot of the sec­tions were ride­able but as the day went on you could see a lot of the riders hav­ing some trou­ble with the muddy sec­tions but it was re­ally good. I re­ally en­joyed it. It was fast. It’s a lit­tle colder than what we’re used to but once you’re warmed up and rac­ing you didn’t re­ally no­tice it too much.”

The course was also home to an In­ter­na­tional Cy­cling Union (UCI) points race on Sun­day.

Full re­sults can be found at www.race­tim­ing.ca.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

Cy­clist Mark Lan­cia runs up­hill in men's elite race dur­ing 2018 Shi­mano Cana­dian Cy­clocross Cham­pi­onships on Satur­day at Ni­cholls Oval.

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