Posted by Editoress on 09/25/21
With the addition of the Short Track (XCC) to the world championships program, it was only natural that national titles be awarded as well. One day after the XCO titles were awarded in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec, many of the same riders lined up for the XCC on Saturday. The inaugural titles went to Sandra Walter (Liv) and Quinton Disera (Norco Factory).
The event was held on the gravel roads through the RV campground next to the XCO course. The 900 metre course was not technical, with a 200 metre shallow climb to the finish line. Riders began near the base of the climb, making the first lap one kilometre in length.
Haley Smith (Norco Factory) was the most aggressive in the early laps of the women's race, reducing the lead bunch to about a dozen. Then, her team mate, Jenn Jackson, the new XCO champion, took over, with Laurie Arseneault shadowing her. The pair got a small gap on the field, but was quickly brought back. Slowing in the middle of the 11 lap race allowed a few chasers to get back on, but then the pace picked up in the final three laps, bringing the lead group back down to eight riders. Walter went on the last lap early, opening a gap as the rest hesitated for a split second, and that was all it took. Under-23 track rider Jocelyn Stel (Cyclepath Oakville Race Team) took second, just beating Smith at the line.
"It feels amazing," said Walter, "especially because it was quite unexpected to win in this discipline. I've had some experience on the World Cup, so I knew what to expect, but I've never considered Short Track my forté. I guess I have to change that opinion now. It was extremely tactical, which I also don't consider to be my forté, but in the distance past I used to do a lot of road racing, so I have done lots of road crits. I just tried to stay positioned near the front but not do too much work, so I had something at the end."
She also admitted that her winning move was a bit of a mistake. "It's a funny story ... the start line was 100-150 metres before the finish line, and when we rounded the last corner and started into the finish straight, I was like, 'why isn't anybody going, the finish line is right there'. As I reached the start line, I realized, 'oh no, this is the start line!', so I just had to grit my teeth and hang on."
The men's race looked to be a battle between the three riders of Norco and the seven of Pivot-OTE. The Pivot riders began throwing out attacks in the early laps of the 13 lap race, including one by new XCO national champion Leandre Bouchard. However, Norco was watching closely, with Peter Disera and Andrew L'Esperance chasing down anything that got more than 20 metres clear. L'Esperance went to the front in the second half of the race, managing the tempo, and it worked out perfectly for Quinton Disera. 'Q' had to be considered the favourite as a strong sprinter - including a stage win at Tour de l'Abitibi as a Junior - and he did not disappoint, attacking from well out and having enough space to coast over the line with his arms in the air. Marc Andre Fortier (Pivot-OTE) took his second silver in as many days, as did Tyler Orschel (Durham Shredders) for his third place.
"Short Track's one of those races where it can go any way," explained Disera, "and this race, with almost no elevation gain, made it tactical. I had a good start and just stayed out of trouble, but we had that mid-race lull and it was getting to be a big group, so I was getting kind of nervous. My team mates did a really good job on the front controlling the race, but I kept getting shuffled back to ninth, tenth, 11th, and I'd have to make my way back up into a safer position. On the last lap I was around eighth and then made it up to sixth or so coming into the 180-degree turn before the long drag to the finish. It kind of sat up then for a second and I just thought, 'oh man, this when I need to go'. I'm pretty confident in my sprint ... so I just really put the power down, and now I am the first Canadian Short Track champion."
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