Posted by Editoress on 11/10/13
Sleet, snow and rain, combined with a stiff cold breeze, added to the challenges at the Hardwood Cross, the fifth and penultimate round of the Ontario Cup Cyclo-cross series. Lisa Holmgren (Velocity Ski & Bike) and Andrew Watson (Norco Factory Team) proved themselves best able to handle both the conditions and the slippery, sinuous three kilometre course on their way to winning their respective categories.
Elite & Master Women
Rain turned to wet snow as Holmgren led the women's field off the line, followed in the early going by Antje Thamm (Invita-FCV), Siobhan Kelly (Adrenaline Racer/ToWheels) and Ashley Barson (CoachChris.ca/Ted Velikonja).
With plenty of racing experience under her belt, Holmgren, racing in the Masters bracket, was able to handle the slick and muddy conditions better than her younger competitors, and quickly built up an insurmountable lead that she held all the way to the finish.
"It felt good," stated Holmgren after the race. "It was cold, muddy, and mentally it was tough because it was really slow." She considered the race to have been the most technical so far this season, though not the hardest.
In her wake, an interesting battle was shaping up for second overall. Thamm and Kelly were the initial combatants, with Katlyn Dundas (Trek Store CC) moving up after a slow start. "I don't usually have the best starts," admitted Dundas. "So usually I pick up speed. But I was also here for fun. On the second lap I kicked it into high gear and was 'You know what? I'm going to do my absolute best today.' "
The cold temperature took its toll on Kelly, who struggled on the running sections and was forced to drop back on the second lap, while at the same time Dundas was surging, gradually reeling in Thamm.
With one lap to go it appeared that Dundas had momentum on her side, but Thamm dug deep, managing to hold off her adversary by a couple of bike lengths. "I saw her," said Thamm. "We had a pretty good battle. Again the mountain biker teaches me how to ride the corners, and I take it on the flats."
Dundas and Thamm are both students at Brock University, and shared a ride to the race. "I thought it would be really fun to give her her money's worth and have fun too, 'cause we're good friends."
Kelly was able to recover from her earlier difficulty to put in a solid final lap and secure fourth overall, with Barson finishing fifth.
With a $100 first-lap prime at stake, courtesy of "Angry" Johnny Bates, the opening lap proved decisive. Jacob McLelland (AWI Racing) and Jacques Cormier (Bikes On Wheels) set the early tempo, but it was Watson and Peter Disera (CSAJCC p/b Norco LG) who pushed the pace in hopes of pocketing some extra cash. The newly-crowned provincial champion took the spoils ahead of Disera and, having opened a 30-second gap over the field, the pair never looked back.
"I got a second row start so I didn't want to be too aggressive and crash anybody out," revealed Watson. "It was a long first lap so I was patient and when I saw gaps opening up I went for the prime."
"I eased off a little bit right after because I did put in a really hard effort to get the prime, and Pete rode up to me and we rode together for a little bit. I kept the pressure on after that." A bobble by Disera on a muddy corner opened the door for Watson, who applied sufficient pressure to solidify his lead before cruising home for the win.
"It was back to normal pace by that point," revealed Disera. "It wasn't feasible for me to close the gap at that point. It's good to race him. He's definitely a good 'cross racer and I respect him for that."
Behind the leading pair, Peter Glassford (Trek Canada) and Nathan Chown (Team CF) were trading places during the first four laps before Glassford eventually got the upper hand. "With three to go I tested him a couple of times and noticed off the bike on the barriers and the run-up he wasn't super quick. Yesterday I won basically a running race over at Horseshoe so I tried to use those running sections to put him into a bit of trouble."
After dropping Chown, Glassford put in a very quick fifth lap to bring Disera into his crosshairs, but was unable to sustain the effort, allowing Disera to roll home in second, with Glassford and Chown securing third and fourth.
- Holmgren was planning to watch her husband and sons race 'cross this season, but entered the first O-Cup on a borrowed bike and hasn't looked back. The mother of five works full-time as a physiotherapist, and also races on the mountain bike circuit.
- Who's going to Nationals? Watson and the rest of the Norco team definitely are, but Disera has an exam conflict, while Glassford is using 'cross to improve his start, tactical sense and pack-riding skills, and can't justify the lengthy trip west.
- Race organizer Jack Sasseville hopes to host the 2014 provincial championships on the same course used today.
Report by Emil van Dijk