Posted by Editoress on 11/4/16
A large field is registered for the 2016 Canadian Cyclo-cross Nationals in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on Saturday, with 268 riders signed up for the championship categories.
The championships will take place in the Jacques Cartier Park, located on the shores of the Lac des Nations, steps from the downtown core of Sherbrooke. Organizers have put together a course that riders are praising, although they are already having to run some climbs because of slippery mud.
The forecast is for freezing temperatures overnight, and then slowly warming to a high of 6 Celcius by mid-day. However, the real issue will be the snow that is predicted in the early morning, turning to cold rain by mid-morning. This is looking to be a wet and cold Nationals. Mechanics will be extremely busy in the pits...
The 2.9 kilometre circuit has a paved start straightaway, that will be a drag race to where it doglegs onto the course, on grass - there will be bottlenecks and crashes almost guaranteed.
From here, riders skirt around the edge of the park, through a series of zig-zags that are already causing washouts. After the first pit, the course continues along the edge of the park before the first descent down to the lake. A series of up and down climbs on the side of the hill lead into a short set of steps and a steep run up (if it was dry it would be rideable), before a final descent and final paved climb back to the second time through the pits.
Out of the pits, riders enter a beer tent with a deep sand pit and then a final series of twists and turns before heading back through the finish line.
The fastest of the Elite men were predicting 8 minute laps, however, the weather could slow that dramatically, so seven laps for the men could be optimistic, and some of the shorter races may struggle to finish four laps in the allotted time.
The womens field is missing two past national champions - Olympic mountain bikers Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and Emily Batty (Trek Factory) - Pendrel is in Wisconsin for the Iceman. However, there are more than enough strong contenders, led by defending champion Mical Dyck (Naked Factory Racing). Others to watch for include Maghalie Rochette (Luna), Natasha Elliott (Garneau-Easton), Cindy Montambault (Trek-GPL) and Sandra Walter (Liv Canada).
The mens field is particularly deep, with multiple national champions, including defending champion Raphael Gagne (Cannondale 360Fly p/b Sugoi). Others to watch are five-time champion Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox), Jeremy Martin (Focus CX Canada), Aaron Schooler (Focus CX Canada), Michael van den Ham (Garneau Easton) and Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce Garneau). There are at least five other podium contenders, and one interesting name - road pro Guillaume Boivin (Cycling Academy).
In Under-23 men there is also a strong field, and it will be interesting to see the Disera brothers - Peter (Norco Factory) and brother Quinton (up from Junior) battle it out against Gunnar Holmgren (Garneau-Easton) and Trevor ODonnell (Real Deal/DOrnellas p/b Garneau).
The Under-23 women should see a battle between Ruby West (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld.com) and Sidney McGill (Focus CX Canada).
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