An all-time record of more than 150 riders will converge on Hardwood Hills, Ontario, this Saturday, November 5, for the cyclocross national championships. Ten official national champion titles will be awarded in various categories; national team positions are also at stake for the 2006 cyclocross world championship in Zeddam, Netherland on January 28-29.
Elite Men - In a brief phone interview on Thursday, current champ Geoff Kabush says he's not going to make the trip to nationals since he's deep in middle of his off-season break. "I did an X-Terra event in hawaii and a couple of 'cross races but I'm tapering off the bike right now." Which leaves the door open for perennial favourite Peter Wedge (New Brunswick; Kona), who finished a close second in Dieppe, New Brunswick in 2004 after an epic battle with Kabush. Greg Reain (Ontario; Stevens Racing) will be a man to watch as well. Greg has been training and racing in Europe this fall with some of the best riders in the world, and has a good shot at capturing the 2005 champion's jersey. An outside pick is Nathan Chown ( Ontario ; St. Catherines Bike Club), the best-ranked Canadian in the UCI ranking so far in 2005; Mathieu Toulouse (Québec; Maxxis), a mountain bike national team member, will also be a threat.
Elite Women - On the women's side, current National champion Wendy Simms (British Columbia; Kona) will try to defend her title but will face a strong opposition from Lyne Bessette (Québec; cyclocrossworld.com-Louis Garneau) who has so far won all the races she has entered this season. Bessette took a year off from road cycling in 2005 to concentrate on mountain bike and cyclocross events, and is currently ranked eighth on the UCI ranking.
U23 Men - A new National champion will be crowned in the Espoir (U23 men) category in 2005 as Christian Meier ( New Brunswick ; Symmetrics) will not be present at the event. Per Strom ( Alberta ; Bicisport) is the best-seeded rider in that group so far, followed by Mark Batty ( Ontario ; 3 ROX Racing) and Shaun Adamson ( Alberta ; United Cycle).
Junior Men - With Joël Dion-Poitras (Québec; Espoir de Laval) and Ian McAvity ( New Brunswick ; Darlings Island ) now in the Elite men's category, Mike Bidniak ( Alberta ; Juventus) will be the man to beat this weekend. Bidniak, who finished third in 2004, will have to look out for Garrett McLeod ( Nova Scotia ; Valley Stove and Cycle) and Tim Clarke ( Newfoundland ; Canary Cycles) who finish fourth and fifth respectively last year.
Six other title will be up for grabs in the Master A-B-C-D Men and the Master A and B Women; five challenge class events will also take place. Action starts at 9:00 a.m. this Saturday at Hardwood Hills Nordic ski centre. For more information, please log on to www.bikeraces.info