Mountain Bike stars and Olympians Catharine Pendrel (Luna), Geoff Kabush (SCOTT-3Rox Racing) and Emily Batty are only three of Canada's top racers expected on the start line of the 2012 Daryl-Evans Canadian Cyclo-Cross Championships and the Daryl-Evans BC Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross presented by Red Racer, to be held this weekend at the South Surrey Athletic Park in South Surrey, British Columbia.
First step to Louisville 2013 as Cycling Canada has mandated that athletes who wish to attend the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships must participate at the Cyclo-cross Canadian Championships. Racers must meet other selection criteria to be considered for the Worlds Canadian Team.
The weather conditions expected this weekend are quintessential Pacific-Northwest 'cross: rain, a little bit of wind and temperatures just a few degrees above freezing. Under these conditions, it's anybody's guess whether Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) will be able to defend his title against a crop of young up and comers, or against two-time Canadian Champion Kabush.
Back-to-back Canadian Champion Sheppard, Canada's highest ranked rider in the UCI World Rankings in 78th place, will be going for the hat trick. This month, Sheppard took two top 7 finishes at the Cincy3 races. Sheppard will have stiff competition from Mountain Bike Olympian Kabush, who posted three Top 5 results this season in USGP races, including a third-place finish at the New Belgium Cup.
Pepper Harlton (Juventus Cycling Club) is Canada's top-ranked women in the UCI World Rankings in 57th spot. Harlton came second at the 2011 Canadian Championships, and will be looking for the top spot this year. Just last week, Harlton took the 13th spot in the USGP Derby City Cup, and finished fourth just a few weeks ago at the USGP New Belgium Cup. Reigning Canadian Cyclo-cross Champion Batty will be hoping to defend her title. The four-time Canadian Mountain Bike Champion and two-time and reigning UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Champion Pendrel will also be at the start.
The 3.25 km (2 mile) Canadian Championship course features a variety of terrain, some of it unconventional. It includes paths through coastal rain-forest, some off-camber slippery grass sections, a set of planks, a stair-case run-up and a section that winds through the dirt jumps found in a mountain bike park that is located on the property. To top it all off, the riders will only reach the finish line after sprinting more than 100 meters along a 'steep' false flat; a fitting finish for what will be an interesting and challenging course.
Once the Maple Leaf is awarded on Saturday, racing continues Sunday for the only UCI cyclo-cross race held on Canadian soil, the BC Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross, with a UCI 2 ranking on a modified course. The forest section is being shortened by 500m (1/3 of a mile), and the stairs are being traded in for a loose, (and probably muddy) run-up. Victory in Saturday's Canadian Championship will by no means guarantee success on Sunday.
Canadian Cycling Magazine will be providing live text updates of the Elite, U23 and Junior races on Saturday on www.cyclingmagazine.ca
Saturday, November 17
8:15am-9:00am: Course Open for Training
9:15am: Canadian Championships, Masters M 50+, Masters W 30+
10:15am: Canadian Championships, Masters M 40-49
11:15am: Canadian Championships, Masters M 30-39+
12:15pm: Youth Cross Challenge
1:45pm: Canadian Championships, Elite W (17+)
3:00pm: Canadian Championships, Elite M, U23 M
Sunday, November 18
8:30am-9:45am: Course Open for Training
10:00am: Challenge Men, Challenge Women, Master Women, Singlespeed, Under 17 Challenge
11:00am: UCI Race, Elite Women
12:15pm: UCI Race, Elite Men
2:15pm: Cat 3/4 Men, Master 3/4 Men
3:15pm: Master 1/2 Men, Junior Men