October 27, 2017 (Sherbrooke, QC) – There are still a number of maple leaf jerseys to be earned before the 2017 cycling season comes to an end. Saturday’s races at the 2017 Cyclocross Nationals in Sherbrooke feature many top contenders. A new Elite men’s champion will be crowned as defending champ Jeremy Martin retired, while defending Elite women’s champion, Maghalie Rochette (Clif Pro Team), will head to the startline as a favourite.
Maghalie Rochette © Pasquale Stalteri
Both U23 titles are up for grabs as as Peter Disera (Norco Factory Team) will vie for the double as the reigning Elite MTB XCO champ, while Sidney McGill is still recovering as she told Pedal
, “After winning the CX U23 Women’s title in 2016, I was working hard all year to be prepared for the 2017 CX Nationals and defend my title. But it’s not to be. Unfortunately, I broke my wrist in Cairns, Australia at the 2017 Mountain Bike World Championships, and remain under strict doctors orders, so I will not be racing this weekend in Sherbrooke.”
Rochette Faces Experienced Women
Quebec’s Rochette will be a hunted woman as the favorite in the Elite women’s race. The talented rider won on this very same course last year on her way to a mind-blowing fifth place at the 2017 CX World championships in Bieles, Luxembourg. She’s had a great start to her 2017-18 cross campaign earning podiums at many of the races she’s entered.
Christel Ferrier Bruneau © Ethan Glading
One woman who cannot be considered as an underdog anymore is Montreal’s Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (SAS Magocep). The French-native rider is a 2-time French Elite road race champion and has been racing cyclocross for several years. Her outstanding 2017-18 season saw her race into the top-10 at the UCI World cup at Waterloo, WI, in September and then she landed on the podium at the Gloucester Gran Prix just two weeks ago.
Mical Dyck © Pasquale Stalteri
Other main contenders for the women’s race include ex-Canadian CX champion, Mical Dyck (Naked Bikes) and veteran Lyne Bessette, a road Olympian and ex-Master cyclocross world champion. Although she confirms that this isn’t a comeback
, Bessette is always a fierce competitor and might as well be a factor in tomorrow’s race.
New Men’s Champion
It’s an open race on the men’s side. With defending champion Martin now retired, it seems like Garneau-Easton rider, Michael Van Den Ham, is the favourite. The gutsy racer recently earn back-to-back podiums at the Gloucester GP showing great fitness leading up to the nationals.
Van Den Ham © Ethan Glading
Many other top riders have achieved good results lately. Another cyclocross specialist who will be on the start line is Calgary’s Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce). A crowd favourite, he’ll surely be looking to finish what he started last year, when he led more than half of the race before being caught by the main chasers with three laps to go. It will be interesting to see what his strategy is this year.
Mark McConnell © Ethan Glading
Ready to upset Van Den Ham and McConnell for the title are a slew of top MTB riders. Olympians Geoff Kabush (Scott-Maxxis), Raphaël Gagné (Cannondale-3 Rox) and Léandre Bouchard are joined by Disera forming a quartet of serious contenders that can take home the title home.
Peter Disera © Chris Redden
Kabush finished on the podium last year after being almost invisible on the cyclocross scene during the fall. He and Gagné are former CX national champs and always a threat on any start line let alone a national championship.
Check-in tomorrow at 8:00 on Pedal Magazine’s Web, Twitter and Facebook pages for live coverage of the day’s first races – the Elite women will start at 1:20 pm and Elite men at 2:20.