Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain) took his first national title since the Canadian junior mountain bike championships in 1991 with a fine display at the Canadian Cyclo-cross Nationals in Toronto.
After two years in Edmonton, Alberta, the championship moved to the middle of Toronto, with local organizer ZM Cycling and Fitness putting together a course that garnered strong praise from the riders.
The two-plus kilometre circuit barely gave riders a moment to rest, with multiple short steep climbs, and constant twists and turns on the flat sections. While the weather conditions were excellent - low single digits Celsius, with sun for much of the day - rain earlier in the week made many of the corners slippery, and a number of riders crashed as they tried to push the pace.
Aaron Schooler (Team H&R Block) set a blazing fast pace on the opening loop. Only Sheppard, 2007 national champion Mike Garrigan (Team Ontario) and Tyler Trace (Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes) were able to respond. Missing from the mix was one of the pre-race favourites, Derrick St John (Garneau- Club Chaussures-Ogilvy Renault), who had a poor start, dropping to tenth on the opening loop; he would eventually work his way back to finish fourth. Also missing was defending champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), who had decided not to make the long trek East.
Schooler's effort soon burned off Trace, but Sheppard and Garrigan stuck like glue, with all three working to make sure St John didn't make it up to the front of the race. In the third lap, Sheppard decided the pace wasn't fast enough and, while Garrigan was able to make his way back to the front, Schooler was done - he would hold on for third. Sheppard and Garrigan then began trading attacks, with Garrigan soft pedaling more when at the front, frustrating Sheppard, who had sharp words with his rival.
Coming into the final half lap, the pair were still together, until Garrigan rolled a tire and had to stop briefly, which enabled his rival to cruise home for the victory.
"In the heat of the moment, I maybe said some things that I shouldn't have," admitted Sheppard. "He [Garrigan] was strong, and maybe he was riding a smart race, but that's not the way I like to ride, so it was a little frustrating. I don't know how it would have ended, but he had that problem and I was able to get that little bit of a gap."
"I was looking for a sprint," revealed Garrigan. "I felt that today I was good for an effort like that, so I was taking it easy when I was at the front, and actually hoping that Aaron would get back to us. In hindsight, maybe I should have attacked earlier, seeing how strong I was."
|1||Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles P/B Shimano)||1:00:52|
|3||Aaron Schooler (Team H&R Block from Edmonton)||0:00:47|
|4||Derrick St. John (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Ogilvy Renault)||0:01:56|
|5||Craig Richey (CyclocrossRacing.Com/Victoria)||0:02:05|
|6||Tyler Trace (Trek Red Truck Racing P/B Mosaic Homes)||0:02:14|
|7||Andrew Watson (Norco Factory Team from Barrie)||0:02:39|
|8||Nathan Chown (Handlebars Cycling Company : Queen City Cyclists)||0:02:56|
|9||Adam Morka (Trek Canada from Fonthill)||0:03:10|
|10||Kevin Calhoun (Rocky Mountain Bicycles P/B Shimano)||0:03:17|
|11||Thierry LaLiberte (XPREZO-BORSAO from Shefford)||0:03:19|
|12||Erik Box (Cycles Devinci from Toronto)||0:03:25|
|13||Nicholas Berry (Mighty Riders from Vancouver)||0:04:03|
|14||Shawn Bunnin (Team Alberta : bicisport/Calgary)||0:04:10|
|15||Aroussen Laflamme (XPREZO-BORSAO from St-Augustin)||0:04:21|
|16||Shaun Adamson (Cycle-Smart, Inc./Edmonton)||0:04:35|
|17||Raphaël Gagné (Rocky Mountain Bicycles Factory Team)||0:04:54|
|18||Peter Mancini (esteemtraining.com from Bolton)||0:05:02|
|19||Kevin Noiles (La Bicicletta Elite Team)||0:05:49|
|20||Drew MacKenzie (Island Racing Club/Victoria)||0:05:58|
|21||Matthew Krahn (Redbike from Edmonton)|
|22||Peter Morse (Jet Fuel Coffee from Toronto)||0:06:06|
|23||Greg Reain (Ride With Rendall from Ottawa)||0:06:46|
|24||Kevin Black (Wheels of Bloor from Toronto)||0:07:02|
|25||Nathan Underwood (Ride With Rendall from Chelsea)||0:07:11|
|27||Timothy Carleton (Trek Store Race Team/Toronto)||0:07:59|
|28||Marco Li (Darkhorse Flyers from Toronto)||-1lap|
|29||Imad El-Ghazal (Kunstadt Sports Cycling Club)||-2laps|
|30||Kyle Douglas (3 Rox Racing from Oshawa)|
|31||Steve Timmons (Eagle Owl from Montreal)|
|32||Isaac Smith (Darkhorse Flyers from Grimsby)|
|33||Shawn Clarke (The Cyclery from Woodlawn)||-3laps|
|34||Marc LaPointe (Nine2FivePro.com Cycling Team)|
|35||Tristan Smit (Evolution Cycles/Richmond Hill)|
|36||Jeff Moote (The Hub Race Team/Niagara Falls)||-4laps|
|37||Andrew Lees (Nine2FivePro.com Cycling Team)|
|38||Doug Hinan (Peterborough Cycling Club)|
|40||François-Charles Dumas (Devinci from Verdun)|
|41||Brandon Parker (Mountainview Cycling Club)||-5laps|
|42||Camilo Mondaca (Darkhorse Flyers from Toronto)|
|DNF||Sylvain Jean (Kona Bio-Max/Morin-Heights)|
|DNF||Pascal Bussieres (Team Spirit/Cannondale pb Rhus Elementi)|
|DNS||Scott Fitzgerald (Lapdogs Cycling Club/Toronto)|
|DNS||Cameron Jette (La Bicicletta Elite Team)|