The cold rain and strong, cold wind made for some challenging and interesting races Saturday at the 2012 Daryl-Evans Canadian Cyclo-Cross Championships in Surrey as eight new Canadian champions were crowned in a spectacular and exciting day of cyclo-cross racing.
In the elite races, many high profile Canadian athletes were in attendance, including Olympian Geoff Kabush of Courtenay (SCOTT-3-Rox Racing) who captured his fourth national cyclo-cross Elite Men’s title.
Chris Sheppard of Bend, Ore. (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) entered the race as the two-time defending champion. Sheppard faced off against his main rival, Olympian and seven-time Canadian mountain bike champion Kabush.
Kabush took advantage of a great start to stay away from trouble usually arising from a large peloton and took the lead in the first lap, with Derrick St-John’s of Gatineau, QC (Stevens p/b The Cyclery), Aaron Schooler of Edmonton, AB (Norco Bicycles – SRI Importing) and Sheppard in the chase group.
Kabush gained significant advantage throughout the rest of the course and rode solo to his fourth Canadian Cyclo-Cross championship title, and 11th Canadian title including his seven MTB titles.
“I was looking forward to today. I knew that if my leg showed up, it wasn’t a course that would have a lot of ‘Mickey Mouse’ group rides. It’s a pretty tough technical course. The first few laps, people were going really hard. I put on some pressure, and decided it was the time to push it home. Every lap, there were a couple of sections where you could really lay down the power, and put in some hard accelerations,” said Kabush. “I felt really comfortable on my Scott Addict. It was pretty efficient throughout the muddy corners, and I was able to stretch out the lead.”
“The Worlds are on definitely on my schedule,” Kabush continued. “The Worlds in Louisville will definitely be fun to go back there, and hopefully with good weather. I’ve been there three or four times and it has always been fast and dry. I am looking forward to race the Worlds for the first time. It’s a good opportunity to get the Euros on our side of the water.”
The wild and exciting cyclo-cross action continued Sunday when the group of adrenaline seekers reconvened at the South Surrey Athletic Park for the inaugural 2012 Daryl-Evans BC Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross.
In the Elite Men’s race, the field was strong as both the U23 and Elite racers were starting in the same category. Kabush started alongside some big names of cyclo-cross from both Canada and the U.S. Three-time U23 Canadian Cyclo-cross champion Evan McNeely (Ottawa, ON/Specialized Canada) also took the start, matching his skills against the Elite field.
Early in the 60-minute race, Jeremy Martin (Boischatel, QC/Rocky Mountain Factory Team), Kabush and Mike Garrigan (St-Clemens, ON) were leading the large lead group. In the third lap, Steve Fisher (Bellingham, WA/Hagens Berman p/b Raleigh), Kabush and Garrigan, along with McNeely, Sheppard, Andrew L’Espérance (Halifax, NS/Norco Factory Team) and Spence Paxson (Seattle, WA/Team Kona) established themselves as the strongest contenders to take the victory.
In the last 20 minutes of racing, a group of five riders remained at the lead, including Kabush, Paxson, McNeely, L’Espérance and Fisher. With a few attempts to attack and separate the group, Kabush, McNeely and Fisher dropped Paxson and L’Espérance and rode as a small lead group.
Thanks in part to a crash from Fisher holding up Kabush, McNeely increased his gap on Kabush and Fisher with 15 minutes left of racing. But Kabush, showing he’s in top form, closed the gap on McNeely and dropped him in the last lap.
Kabush rode away solo, never looking back, to take the victory, followed by McNeely and Fisher in second and third places, respectively.
The designed course offered many challenges to the competitors over the weekend, including barriers, stairs, dirt sections and many slippery off-camber switchbacks.
In addition to the UCI-sanctioned international Elite categories for men and women, many riders tackled for the second consecutive day the challenging course in wet and cold conditions. Riders from all categories were lined-up for Challenges, including Masters and Youth racers.
– Cycling Canada