Geoff Kabush of Courtenay won bronze in the Elite Men division at the 2016 National Cyclo-cross Championships in Sherbrooke, Que. on Nov. 5.
Over 260 athletes braved cold temperatures, mud, rain and snow. Titles were awarded in 11 categories for women and men, in Junior, Under-23, Elite and Masters age groups.
Held in the Jacques-Cartier Park, located on the shores of the Lac-des-Nations, steps from the downtown core of Sherbrooke, organizers put together a course that riders praised, despite having to run some climbs because of the slippery mud.
Both Elite titles were taken by first-time champions, with Maghalie Rochette (Luna Pro Team) winning the women's title and Jeremy Martin (Focus CX Canada) the men's.
The men's field had tremendous depth, with at least 10 potential podium riders. Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce Racing/Garneau) opened a gap on the first lap, stretching it to over 40 seconds before the chase began in earnest, at the halfway mark of the 60-minute race.
Five-time champion Kabush (Scott-3Rox), Martin and Aaron Schooler (Focus CX Canada) led the chase, narrowing the gap and catching McConnell after he crashed. Martin then got a gap when Kabush slid in a corner and held on to win by 22 seconds over teammate Schooler. Kabush took the bronze medal.
"It's hard to believe," admitted Martin. "I've been training for this for the last year and a half. I had a decent start and then rode my own race. “Everyone made mistakes; I'm just the one who made less mistakes, so I'm super stoked. When Mark [McConnell] went early I just kept riding my own race. Eventually Geoff [Kabush] came up and he brought the gap down quite a bit, then Mark had a bobble ahead of us.
“From that point it was Geoff, myself and Aaron, and I got a gap in a running section when he [Kabush] had a little crash. After that, it was just about keeping it rubber side down."