Posted by Editoress on 11/6/05
One day after the Canadian cyclo-cross national championships, the first ever UCI sanctioned C2 cyclo-cross event took place in Aurora, Ontario, just south of the Nationals site. While the majority of the field consisted of riders who had ridden the day before, there was one significant addition to the men's field: Lyne Bessette's husband and team mate Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com - Louis Garneau). The pair showed why they are considered among the top riders on the continent this season by riding away from their respective fields to record wins.
The Aurora course did not feature the wilderness terrain of the Nationals the day before at Hardwood Hills, but the organizers compensated with a circuit that twisted and looped around a recreational facility, creating, in fact, a course that men's National champion Peter Wedge (Kona Les Gets) said should have been the championship circuit.
Unlike the previous day, there were no torrential downpours, however, rain from the night before made the grass sections slick and treacherous, and wind gusts of up to 80 kilometres an hour had riders grovelling in the headwind sections.
Bessette took control on the first lap of the women's race, but a slide out at the bottom of one descent spun her around 180 degrees and allowed Nationals silver medalist Wendy Simms (Kona Les Gets) to catch up. Bessette opened a gap again, but was much more cautious in doing so.
"Wendy is a strong technical rider, so I knew she would do well on this course. I could open up on the power sections, but she would gain some time back. I've been doing some technical races in the East, so I'm getting better, and I was able to hold my own."
Simms was having problems out on the course, which negated some of her technical skills. "I went down all over the shop; I had too much tire pressure. After I changed my bike it got better. But I'd make time up then I'd fall, then make time up ... so it was frustrating."
Bessette would eventually win by 27 seconds, with Tara Ross (Victory Brewing) making up for her fourth place in the Nationals with a third today. Stacey Spencer (Cycle Smart) took fourth. The win was Bessette's tenth consecutive one.
Tim Johnson, considered a favourite before the start, left no doubt in anyone's mind after a blazing fast 6:50 opening lap. Greg Reain (Steven's Racing), silver medalist a day earlier was the only rider to even attempt to challenge Johnson, and he was 20 second down by the second lap, eventually finishing 2:10 back.
"I know Peter well, but not Greg" explained Johnson, "so I wanted to give it a really good push at the beginning and see how he would go after yesterday. I was actually hoping for rain - I had set up the bike expecting a downpour - so the pressure in my tires was a little on the low side."
Reain, while not necessarily thrilled with two seconds in two days, was still happy with his weekend: "It wasn't too bad a weekend; I'm definitely racing at a higher level than last year."
Behind the front two there was a constant shuffling of positions for the first 5 laps (of 9). Nathan Chown (Italpasta) was the first to take up the chase, but then Wedge worked his way up to the chase group after a poor start and took control. Andrew Pinfold (Symmetrics) tried a flyer, but Wedge bridged up, followed by Espoir national champion Christian Meier (Symmetrics) and Matt Hewitt. Pinfold and Hewitt faded, leaving the two national champions (Elite and Espoir) to battle it out for third. With two laps to go Wedge finally opened a small gap in the technical sections, which he was able to hold to the line.
"Christian and I were really beating each other up all day." commented Wedge. "We were yo-yoing - I would take time in the technical bits and the sand, and then he would slowly come back up to me. I was just able to hold on to the end."
- It appears that Christian Meier may be slapped with a $1200 fine. UCI rules require that a national champion may not have sponsors on their national jersey for the first 24 hours after the jersey is awarded. Meier, who also is the Espoir road time trial champion, used his Symmetrics logo'd national champion's jersey in the race (allegedly, despite being warned not to).
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