December 2/97 0:16 am - `Cross Nationals Story
Posted by Editor on 12/2/97
On the day before the Cyclo-Cross Nationals, the temperature was 8 degrees and the sun was shining. On the day after, it was 4 degrees and sunny. So, what did we get at the `Cross Nationals? True cyclo-cross weather - cold and raining.
Despite the weather, the Championships were universally praised, for both the quality of the course and the calibre of the field. â€žA true `cross courseâ€°, said Elite champion Peter Wedge (Kona). â€žThis was a course that favoured a `cross bike and a `cross riderâ€° - womenâ€šs champion Chrissy Redden (Ritchey). The 2.9 kilometre circuit was laid out by co-organizer Keith Davidge on and around Centennial Parkâ€šs ski hill in the west end of Toronto, only a kilometre from the international airport (from which jumbo jet takeoffs and landings were heard all day). The riders began with a fast sprint along a gravel road at the base of the hill, before diving into a short wooded section. They then had to negotiate a couple of wooden barricades before their first traverse of the side of the hill. Another set of barricades part way up the hill (considered by most riders to be the hardest part of the course) forced the competitors to dismount and then get going again, before dropping to the bottom of the hill. Their climbing wasnâ€št done yet, with another climb (and barricades) on the back of the course. A fast section around the far side of the circuit was followed by a gravel road climb almost to the top of the hill. The riders then made a steep and muddy descent right to the bottom of the hill, before one last traverse (including barricades) and the final gravel road run in to the finish line.
Over 60 riders, from as far away as Nova Scotia and British Columbia, made this Nationals one of the best attended in years. Chrissy Redden, the Ritchey mountain bike pro, was easily the class of the womens field. She seemed to start off a little slow, gaining only 20 seconds or so on her rivals in the first lap, but then her skill and fitness began to tell, as she rode away from the rest of the women in the 60 minute event. This was Reddenâ€šs third National `Cross title (plus one unofficial win), and each year she seems to get stronger.
The Elite and Espoir mens race was, on paper, slated to be one of the most competitive in recent memory, pitting top mountain bikers, such as Peter Wedge and Josh Hall (Schwinn) against local `cross favourites Jeff, Matt and Christian Hansen (all Silent Sports). Unknown quantities were B.C. resident Andrew Pinfold and perennial `cross strongman Kris Westwood.
The first lap saw a group of 5 off the front - Wedge, Westwood, Pinfold, Hall and Paul Spadaccini (Sportable). By the beginning of the next lap, Westwood had dropped out (suffering from a cold) and Spadaccini dropped back. The three front runners easily distanced themselves from the rest of the field, and the real race was between the two Espoirs at the front - Hall and Pinfold. All three seemed to be fairly evenly matched, and it took an error by Pinfold to break the stalemate. After negotiating the steep descent for the fourth time (of the 9 lap, 60 minute race), Pinfold inexplicably slid out on the turn at the base. By the time he got up and straightened his twisted bars, the other two had a 30 second lead, never to be seen again. Wedge took the overall win, when Hall made what turned out to be a tactical error by taking a bike change (to a mountain bike) in the 7th lap. He quickly changed back less than half a lap later to his cross bike, but the damage had been done and, although he closed to as close as 11 seconds partway through the last lap, Wedge held on for the victory, with Pinfold taking third.
Paul Spadaccini was the fourth rider across the line (3rd Espoir). The Espoir field was so strong that the second Elite rider (over 23) was Christian Hansen in 7th, followed by Ed Rushton (8th overall). Unfortunately, the Veteran and Junior events did not have enough provinces taking part to award national status (3 are required, and both had only 2). Despite that, both offered excellent racing, with young Peter Mazur (only 15, and given permission to ride up with the Juniors) the class of the field. He and Vet A racer David Dermot battled it out at the front of the race until the half way point, when Mazur (Dâ€šOrnellas) gradually opened up a gap of so 20 seconds on Dermot. Ben Thibeault of Quebec was the second Junior finisher, followed by mountain biker Ryan Dey of Ontario.
Full results for all categories are available in yesterdayâ€šs posting. Photos and full results will be posted on the National Championships website tomorrow.
There is only a week left to vote for your favourite Canadian rider. Go to the Riderâ€šs Choice site and vote now.
The draw for the Cramerotti frame, donated to the southern Ontario `cross league by La Bicicletta, was made at the National Cyclo-cross Championships last Sunday. Series organizer Chuck Bonnaffon arranged the draw and chief commissaire Peter McCaffery did the honours, picking out Ryan De Boer's name. Ryan, a thirteen year-old member of the Mississauga Bicycle Club, also won a pair of Gipiemme aero wheels, donated by North American Bici, in a similar draw at the conclusion of the popular League midweek criterium series this fall. The odds on winning both prizes are about 11,000 to 1! Ryan is sure to be back next season to ride in both series and we're certain that he'll have his horse shoe in his jersey pocket. (thanks to Peter McCaffrey for this info)