This weekend kicks off the Canadian National Cyclo-cross championships in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The event is part of the qualification process for the athletes who wish to represent Canada at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hooglede-Gits in Belgium on January 27-28, 2007. More than 150 riders are already registered for the Saturday competition.
On the women's side, Quebec rider Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com) will defend her title from last year. Currently ranked 14th in the latest UCI rankings, Bessette is the favorite. She will be challenged by Wendy Simms (Kona) and Tara Ross (Cheerwine). All three racers competed last week in the US Gran Prix of cyclo-cross #4 in Boulder, Colorado, where Bessette, Simms, and Ross finished second, fifth, and tenth respectively.
Last year's national champion Peter Wedge, from New-Brunswick, will not start in the men's race. Fierce competition is expected between Greg Reain (Stevens Racing) and last year's second place finisher Geoff Kabush (Maxxis). Kabush was the 2004 national champion and is the reigning mountain bike cross country national champion. Mathieu Toulouse (Maxxis), top Canadian rider in the UCI rankings, Andrew Pinfold (Symmetrics), leader in Canadian national 'cross series, will challenge, and Andreas Hestler (Rocky-Mountain Business Objects) will challenge the two favorites. Hestler has just returned from the three-day La Ruta grueling mountain bike stage race in Costa-Rica and should be in good shape for this season-ending competition.