Posted by Editoress on 12/6/21
Over twenty Canadian cyclists competed at the 2021 Pan American Cyclo-cross Championships in Garland, Texas, on December 4-5, with five athletes winning medals, led by Orillia's Ava Holmgren (Cycling Canada), who won the Junior Women's Continental title. Ruby West (Factor Bikes), racing in her first year in Elite Women finished second, as did Tyler Clark (Homestead Racing) in the Under-23 Men and Ian Ackert (Cycling Canada) in Junior Men.
Ava shared the podium with her twin sister, Isabella, who took home the bronze in the same event. The pair have had a tremendous start to the season, both finishing on the podium across numerous races in mountain bike and cyclo-cross.
"I had one of my best races ever in seven years of racing cyclo-cross," said Holmgren. "After the pre-ride, I wasn't feeling very confident about the longer pedalling sections because I know how strong my other competitors are, but my legs were feeling great! All I needed was a good start and to follow through with my plan, which I did. The support from the amazing Team Canada crew, teammates, and my family made everything so much better. I am so happy about this accomplishment as a first-year Junior and I'm looking forward to competing at more international races."
On the Elite side, two-time defending champion Maghalie Rochette (Specialized) was not in Texas, as she follows the European World Cup circuit, but former Under-23 Pan American champion Ruby West was in contention for the title for most of the race, only fading in the final lap and a half. Canadian Elite men's champion Michael van den Ham (Easton Giant), who had to make his way to Texas from flooded Chilliwack, BC, moved up as high as sixth before fading to 11th.
"It was a very fast race today and I just really struggled in the heat, coming from full on winter at home," said West. "I think I went a little too hard in the first few laps trying to force the pace and really paid for it in the second half of the race and just couldn't close the gap to Raylyn [Nuss, USA]. I'm definitely disappointed because I knew I had it in me to win today, but I know I left everything I had on the course today and was bested by a stronger rider on the day."
The men's Under-23 race came down to a sprint finish, with Canadian Tyler Clark finishing with the same time as winner Scott Funston (USA).
"It felt great to be riding at the front of a big race like Pan Ams," said Clark. "To be racing for the win with all the Canadians yelling from the side was amazing. I'm super happy to finally make it onto a Pan Am Championship podium and I'd like to give a big shout out to all the other Canadians who put down very good results!"
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