Posted by Editoress on 11/25/13
The fifth annual running of the Hammer and Anvil double header was pushed back a couple weeks on the Ontario schedule and with the later start came a new twist: snowstorms.
Despite weather conditions that seemed to spite the racers (not to mention the hardy volunteers and course maintenance crews that braved the conditions) there were still strong turnouts in every category and something resembling "fun" was had by all. Strong contingents from Norco and 3Rox-Racing made sure a calibre field would contest the titles. Adding to the atmosphere, well positioned speakers around the course pumped out music and meant that racers and fans could constantly hear colourful announcer Jason Cheney call the racing action live.
This year the Anvil was also the Ontario Cup Final - ensuring riders who made the trip from the Toronto region could make big moves up the standings.
The Hammer RESULTS
Technically only in its fourth running, the Saturday races saw falling snow that made for slick and greasy conditions. Natasha Elliot (Rare Vos - Stevens) showed that she continues to return to form with a convincing margin of victory over Julie Lafreniere (Ride with Rendall), while Norco's Haley Smith rounded out the podium.
On the men's side it was a back and forth technical affair that saw numerous crashes and mishaps affect the outcome. Local hero Evan McNeely rolled a tubular and opened the door for teammate Andrew Watson to take the win ahead of fellow Norco rider (and fellow Andrew) Andrew L'Esperance from Halifax. OCTTO-Cervelo veteran Osmond Bakker took the last step on the podium ahead of former race winner Derrick St. John (Stevens p/b The Cyclery).
Derek Gee (OBC) took home the win in both the Junior Men's race as well as the combined Junior/Cat 3/ Master 2 start.
The Anvil RESULTS
The mercury dropped overnight and the day before's greasy conditions turned into a frozen tundra, leaving many riders questioning the proper tire choice in the parking lot (file treads vs. mud tubular were heavily debated, at least one rider rode a fat-bike and several whimpered in indecision then went home).
As an added bonus it wasn't just frigid - it was also quite windy - but those who braved the conditions were rewarded with a flowing course that presented some unique challenges and pushed riders' skill levels.
Natasha Elliot was up to the challenge and again beat Lafreniere (though by a narrower margin than on Day One). Unheralded Ashley Barson (Coach Chris) rose to the challenge and put together an impressive ride to finish in third place. In the Junior Men's race Miles Betteridge took the win, while his sister Lois (both OBC) won the Junior Women's event.
In the men's race the Norco Team put on a dominant performance that will be the envy of touring figure-skating shows for years to come. The cycling stars on ice rode a three man time trial before McNeely rode away from his teammates to take a convincing win. Behind him, L'Esperance was able to outkick Watson to take both the silver medal and the title of dominant Andrew.
The Anvil also saw some impressive crowd pleasing cross-ups on the downhill roller section of the course - much to the delight of spectators.
Special Notice goes out Master C rider (and one of the race organizers) Rob Orange, who is the only rider to have won his category in every edition of the Anvil to date, and to M1 racer Matt Surch who, along with Elliot, completed the Hammer and Anvil Double.
A big thank you goes out to all of the event sponsors and volunteers who made the event possible, as well as the Nepean Equestrian Centre for the use of the warm barn to house the Expo area and hot food tents - it added greatly to the atmosphere and made a chilly weekend a great one of racing.
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