December 01, 2013 (Surrey, BC) – Canada’s best cyclocross racers arrived at the South Surrey Athletic Park in Surrey, B.C. on Nov. 30 ready to do battle for the coveted National Champion maple leaf jerseys. What they might not have been ready for was the driving wind and rain that turned the technical course into nothing short of a mudbath. With no less than three sandpits per lap this course was sure to crown worthy champions.
The morning activities began with the Youth Challenge races, where strong contingents from Ontario, BC and Alberta were out in search of victory. In the U13 categories, it was a Team dEVo sweep, with Vancouver’s Cody Scott and Lily Ujfalusi taking the wins in the men’s and women’s races. Team dEVo continued their strong day with Connor Martin taking the U15 men’s race, while it was Abbey McGill leading an Alberta 1-2 in the women’s contest. The U17 categories were also hotly contested as Stefan Ritter (AB, Juventus Cycling Club) edged out Graydon Staples (BC) in the men’s race, and Sidney McGill (AB, Team Alberta/Juventus Cycling Club) rode to a dominant win in the women’s race.
The Master 50+ men and 30+ women were next on course, with cross legend Peter Lawrence (AB, Soul Sportif) taking the jersey over Rob Orange (QC, Ride with Rendall) and Bob Bergman (ON, Canadian Cycling Magazine) after five laps of hard fought racing. In the women’s race, Alana Heise (AB, Terrascape Racing) lead home Janna Gillick (BC, Mid Islad Velo Association) and Tanya Berg (BC, Oak Bay Bikes/Wheelers) in one of the closest races of the day.
By the time the Master 40+ men took to the course at 11am, the course was rapidly deteriorating and well on it’s way to becoming a certified mudbath. In the driving rain and wind Ian Auld (AB, Soul Sportif) took the win with a 20-second gap over Andre Sutton (AB, Hardcore CC) in second and Bob Welbourne (BC) in third.
The Master 30-39 men were next up on course, facing off over four laps for the national title. It was Chris McNeil (BC, Soul Sportif) out-sprinting Matt Staneland (AB, Jasper Source for Sports) for the win in another close battle, with Vincent Marcotte (BC) taking home the bronze.
After an hour break to allow for pre-riding the course the Elite and Junior women too to the start line, with the Junior men beginning two minutes behind. The top three Elite women quickly established themselves as Wendy Simms (BC, Kona) took the holeshot with defending champion Mical Dyck (BC, Pro City) and Catharine Pendrel (BC, Luna) close behind. After one lap it was Pendrel and Dyck off the front, with Simms at 15s behind. Coming through the end of the second lap, it was clear that Pendrel was having a great day, even after a minor slip up in one corner she had pushed out an advantage of 7s that she would continue to extend. Behind her Dyck and Simms rode together in what was shaping up to be a great battle for second.
With two laps to go Pendrel was riding flawlessly, doubling her gap on the chasers over the next lap. In the battle for second Dyck was able to gap the Kona rider Simms and was riding towards a silver medal. A soggy final lap changed little, as former MTB Worlds champion, Catharine Pendrel, took home her first cyclocross National Championship title 15s ahead of Dyck, with Simms claiming the bronze only 10s further back. After the race Pendrel was clearly ecstatic, mentioning that winning this title had been a goal this season, and she was very happy to pull it off.
In the Junior races, it was Manitoba’s Willem Boersma (Cyclesmart) simply riding away from the field to take the win in the men’s race, with Clara McKenzie (BC, Pro City Racing/VAC) leading home a BC-sweep in the women’s race.
The last race of the day featured the Elite and U23 men, who faced seven and five laps respectively to determine the 2013 National Champion. Mike Garrigan (ON), notorious for his blistering fast starts, did not disappoint and took the holeshot in commanding fashion, opening up a small gap on the rest of the pack led by defending national champ Geoff Kabush (BC, Scott-3Rox Racing). In the U23 race, Alberta’s Connor Wilson got off to a fast start and led the pack through the first few corners.
After one lap of racing it was Kabush and Garrigan who established themselves at the front of the pack, with a small gap to chasers Aaron Schooler (AB, H&R Block) and Evan McNeely (ON, Norco). A few seconds further back Kabush’s 3Rox teammates Derek Zandstra and Cam Jette (both ON) were in full team time trial mode and gaining ground on the leaders. The U23s were also putting on a great race, with Michael van den Ham (MB, Cycle-Smart) taking a narrow lead over Ontario’s Marc-Antoine Nadon (Scott-3Rox Racing).
By the start of the 3rd lap Kabush had established himself off the front with a small gap over Schooler. Both were riding strong, putting their technical prowess to good use on a course that continued to deteriorate. Garrigan and McNeely followed a further 20s back, with Jette and Zandstra continuing to make up ground behind. In the U23 race, van den Ham had established a strong 35s-gap over Nadon, and was going faster with each passing lap. Halfway through the Elite Men’s race Kabush and Schooler were locked in out front with 8s separating the two, while behind them McNeely was fighting to hold off the charging Scott-3Rox duo.
Behind them Van den Ham continued to extend his lead over Nadon for the U23 title, with Connor Wilson and Trevor Pearson (BC, H&R Block) in a close battle for 3rd.
It would remain like this for the U23 men, with Michal van den Ham coming through the finish line to pick up his first National Championship title in dominant fashion over Nadon with Connor Wilson rounding out the podium for the bronze medal.
With one to go for the Elite men, Kabush continued to apply the pressure, extending his gap over Schooler and was set to take his 5th national CX title. Behind them a great race was shaping up for 3rd, after an unfortunate mechanical put McNeely on his back foot, it was shaping up to be a sprint between the Scott-3Rox teammates at the finish line. As the sun set and the rain finally eased off, Geoff Kabush came across the line to take the title, with Schooler coming through for a very well-deserved second place. In the end, Cam Jette was able to outsprint teammate Zandstra, who was riding at his 4th cyclocross race ever!
After the race the consensus was that the organizers had put up an awesome course, and mother nature had provided the lubrication, turning it into what Kabush called a ‘perfect cross day’.
Full results here.