Raphaël Gagné (Red Truck – Garneau p/b Easton Cyclocross Team) won the elite men’s Canadian Cyclocross Championships in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Saturday. Peter Disera (Norco Factory Team) took the men’s U23 title and his brother Quinton Disera (CSAJCC p/b Norco & LG) won the junior men's title. Canada’s championships are held in the fall due to the country’s early winter. This year’s winners will own their titles for 2016.
Gagné became the first Canadian cyclocross champion from Québec Province in at least 18 years and his win came after an intense tactical competition between his team and Geoff Kabush’s SCOTT-3 ROX outfit which saw five-time champion Kabush repeat last year’s second place result.
Gagné attributed his first cyclo-cross national title to precise bike handling but mainly to the support of teammate van den Ham, saying he was “pretty stoked” about earning a maple leaf jersey for Québec.
“It’s definitely a team win today thanks to van den Ham. We both attacked a few times and we both took some pulls and counter-attacked. It’s one of the only races in my career where team tactics was involved. That’s pretty awesome and it sets the tempo for 2015/16.”
“They (SCOTT-3 Rox) rode strong, and played their cards as well. They were trying tactics as well. I felt like Mike [van den Ham] and I were pretty strong in the sand pit and technically as well. Definitely we had the watts.”
A fast race
With the sun drying out the remains of the previous day’s rain, riders traversed a mostly tacky course. The 3.2 kilometre Winnipeg circuit was similar to that used last year, although several tweaks created a tougher challenge overall. Riders tackled varied surfaces of gravel, dirt, cobblestones, wood, pavement, grass and sand. Damp sand pits proved less decisive than in 2014.
Michael van den Ham 9 Red Truck – Garneau p/b Easton Cyclocross Team) shot out of the pack first but Gagné took the hole shot after the men quickly exited the pavement into the grassy section.
“I led until half-way down the pavement and then Raph [Gagné] came by,” van den Ham said. “We knew on this course you need to be at the front early or it’s just too tight or you’ll get caught at the back of a group.”
Unlike last year when several riders slid out there in lap one, the field negotiated the green off-camber corners smoothly and then sped along some fast track. When they emerged from a dip down to the river, Kabush was leading, followed by Gagné, 2014 champion Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel/Shimano/Velocolour), van den Ham, and Kabush’s teammates Derek Zandstra and Cameron Jette. Next the field hit the sand pits which designers lengthened this year. After charging a stone staircase they dropped back down to the river and then climbed a steep run-up that led into stairs on one side of a new fly over feature. That funneled into grassy curves which led back onto the paved start/finish lane.
Nearly all of the pre-race favourites soon formed a lead group which contained Gagné with Van den ham, Garrigan, Kabush with Zandstra and Jette, Aaron Schooler (Focus CX Team), Evan McNeely (Norco Factory Team), and Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce Cycling). As the race entered the second half of eight laps and fatigue began to set in, McConnell and Jette fell back as did Garrigan. McNeely later lost contact as well and then the leaders numbered five. Local rider van den Ham set the pace at the front with a bit of help from Kabush while Gagné, who had tried an attack earlier, sat in behind.
With two laps to go Gagné made a push off the front. He gained several seconds while Kabush took up the chase. But a slip on the off-camber grass cost Kabush time he couldn’t make up and Gagné won with a five second margin. Kabush crossed the line next, with Schooler taking third.
Van den Ham finished fourth. “I would have loved to take that third spot on the podium but I just had nothing left for the sprint, absolutely nothing,” he said. “The race went down exactly as we planned it. Our plan was to send a guy off the front and sit in, then send a guy off the front and sit in. I’m really happy for Raph, he rode a great race.”
Kabush was disappointed with second place.
“An unfortunate slip with just a lap and a half to go kind of got me, and with Derek [Zandstra off the group], that was just bad timing…and déjà vu, I came up a bit short again. I’m definitely disappointed. But that’s racing and I’ll try again, hopefully.”
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Raphael Gagné (Red Truck - Garneau p/b Easton Cycling)||1:02:35|
|2||Geoff Kabush (Scott 3 Rox Racing)||0:00:05|
|3||Aaron Schooler (Focus CX Team)||0:00:09|
|4||Michael Van Den Ham (Red Truck - Garneau p/b Easton Cycling)||0:00:11|
|5||Derek Zandstra (Scott 3 Rox Racing)||0:00:16|
|6||Derrick St John (Silber Pro Cycling)||0:01:06|
|7||Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce Cycling Club)||0:01:22|
|8||Evan Mcneely (Norco Factory Team)||0:01:24|
|9||Craig Richey (Red Truck - Garneau p/b Easton Cycling)||0:02:04|
|10||Cameron Jette (Scott 3 Rox Racing)||0:02:42|
|12||Andrew L'esperance (Norco Factory Team)||0:04:23|
|13||Shawn Bunnin (Deadgoat Racing)||0:05:35|
|14||Parker Bloom (Stuckylife / VIACRA)||0:05:51|
|15||Jason Wiebe (Team Manitoba)||0:06:36|
|16||Brett Wakefield (Giant Vancouver)||0:06:43|
|17||Terry Mckall (Stuckylife / VIACRA)||0:06:44|
|18||Jon Winfield (AWI Racing)||0:07:05|
|19||Christopher Mitchell (Rollin Thunder)||0:08:44|
|20||Richard Machhein (Team Giant Vancouver)||-2|
|21||Evan Wishloff (Pedalhead River Valley Health)||-3|
|22||Graham Madden (Dark Red Racing)||-3|
|23||Damian Stachura (Velocity)||-4|
|24||Alex Inglis (Pedalhead)||-4|
|25||Dylan Harris (Olympia Cycling Club)||-4|
|26||Russell Thiessen (Olympia Cycling Club)||-5|
|DNF||Jon Slaughter (Cycle Solutions Angry Johnny's CC pb Norco LG)|
|DNF||Olli Hyytiainen (Dark Red Racing)|
|DNS||Ryan Hopping (Redbike)|