Posted by Editoress on 10/19/09
The international racing season in Canada finished this past weekend with back-to-back UCI cyclo-cross races in Toronto at Centennial Park. Part of the North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy series (NACT), the races saw Natasha Elliott (Garneau/Chaussures/Ogilvy) win both women's events and take the overall lead for the NACT women's series, while the Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com squad dominated the men's side, with Tim Johnson winning the first race and team mate Jeremy Powers the second.
Unlike last year, when cold temperatures and rain made for an unpleasant weekend, the sun shone brightly on both days, with temperatures into the low teens for Sunday's race. The course for the first day of racing was dominated by climbing and descending the Centennial ski hill, and both Elliott and Johnson proved that they were the strongest by pulling away from the rest of their respective fields within the first lap and a half.
Elliott was initially tailed by Pepper Harlton (Juventus), who had beaten her for the silver medal a week earlier at the Canadian Nationals in Edmonton. Harlton clearly wasn't on the same form, as she dropped off the pace set by Elliott, and was then caught and passed by three Planet Bike riders before the finish - Linda Sone Kristin Wentworth and Kaitlin Antonneau.
In the men's race, Johnson and his team mates Powers and Driscoll went to the front at the start, but Powers crashed at the barriers and then again on a grassy descent, losing multiple spots before chasing back up to take seventh. Johnson rode away for the win, followed by team mate Driscoll, with Canadian Andrew Watson (Norco Factory Team) gradually making his way through the field to finish third, just ahead of Derrick St John (Garneau/Chaussure/Ogilvy).
The Day 2 course was completely different from Day 1, with less sustained climbing and more short, sharp climbs. It made little difference to the top riders, as Elliott powered away from Harlton even earlier in the race to win the women's category and solidify her hold on the series lead. Harlton managed to hang on for third in this race, but the big story was second place, with Junior rider Kaitlin Antonneau finishing only 15 seconds behind Elliott.
In the men's race, it was a team time trial by the three Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com riders, as they literally rode away from the rest of the field, swapping off at the front as they cruised around the course. Powers had another crash, but it didn't affect his ability to win on this day, as he coasted in ahead of Johnson, with Driscoll coming in for third 15 seconds behind, and St John once again fourth.
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