Posted by Editoress on 11/4/11
Tomorrow, the final Canadian national championships of the year will take place at Pine Point Park in Toronto, with the Cyclo-cross Nationals, organized by ZM Cycling and Fitness. The action begins at 9:00 am with the Masters categories, and concludes late in the afternoon with the Elite Men. Eight different titles are up to be awarded (the actual number of official titles awarded will depend upon participation criteria being met, such as number of riders and number of provinces represented). A follow up race - the Nationals Revenge - will be held on Sunday.
So far, over 200 riders have registered, and the weather is forecast to be perfect for cyclo-cross - cold, crisp and sunny. The course doesn't feature a lot of natural obstacles, however, organizers have introduced enough twists, turns and barricades to force riders to constantly brake and accelerate.
For the Elite, U23 and Junior races, the Nationals offer the opportunity to qualify to represent Canada at the world championships next January in Belgium. Among the riders to watch will be the following:
Elite Women - Defending champion Wendy Simms, second place Katy Curtis and third place finisher Catharine Pendrel (the XC world champion) are all missing from the start list, so this could be a very open race. A number of Canada's mountain bike pros are on the start list, including Emily Batty (Subaru-Trek) and Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing). Also racing will be Olympian Leigh Hobson (The Hub Racing Team), Pepper Harlton (Juventus), Mical Dyck (Pro City Racing) and current national road champion Veronique Fortin (Rocky Mountain Valeur Mobiliere).
Elite Men - Defending champion Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain/Shimano) is returning to defend his title. Last year, he was in a neck-and-neck battle with Mike Garrigan (Lapierre Canada) until Garrigan flatted, maybe we will see that rivalry renewed tomorrow. Others to watch will be last year's third place finisher Aaron Schooler (H&R Block - SRI Importing), Craig Richey (Renner Custom), Andrew Watson and Derrick St John (Stevens p/b The Cyclery)
U23 Men - This could be a tight one. Defending champion Evan McNeely (EMD Serono/Specialized) is back, as are second place Jared Stafford (Ride with Rendall), fourth place Zach Hughes and fifth place Evan Guthrie (Rocky Mountain).
Junior Men - Look for defending champion Benjamin Perry (Team CHCH) to try and retain his title against riders such as Yohan Patry (Ride with Rendall), a member of the national road squad at the Worlds in September.
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