Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com) rode away with his squad's fifth consecutive season win, the ninth in total, at the Toronto International Cyclo-Cross double header held in Etobicoke, Canada.
The defending champion won in similar fashion to the previous year - solo with almost 15 seconds to spare - ahead of his runner up teammate Jamey Driscoll. Andrew Watson (Independent) won the battle for third in a two-up sprint ahead of Derrick St. John (Ride With Rendall).
"I couldn't ask for anything more," said Johnson. "We have the best team in the sport. Jamey won Cross Vegas and never expected that. Jeremy was on such a roll winning the races in Ohio - It's awesome."
The events mark round five and six of the North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy (NACT) series. Johnson's feat moved him closer to the series' lead by virtue of his first win at Gloucester Grand Prix the previous weekend.
"I was a little worried about being injured and the worst part was having to sit out," Johnson said. "Last year I was trying to go for it but when I crashed in Jersey I had to sit out the last round of the NACT in South Hampton. "I lost the lead then and had to watch Ryan [Trebon] ride away with it. He's not contesting it this year so it's definitely up for us."
The Toronto Midweek Cycling Club hosted the 16th annual Toronto International Cyclocross race at the Centennial Park ski area. Flip-flopped from the previous year's event, the first round started at the base of Toronto's notable ski hill, a local where many young Torontonians learn to descend its shallow slopes.
The sun shone bright on the elite men's starting gates, a gesture of warmth on an otherwise brisk autumn afternoon. Former Canadian National Champion, Mike Garrigan (Jet Power) kicked off the race in leading fashion stealing the first run over the barriers from Cyclocrossworld.com trio; Johnson, Driscoll and Jeremy Powers.
A solid group of six riders formed after the first three laps to include Johnson, Driscoll, Powers and Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) Jesse Anthony (Jamis) and Derrick St. John (Ride With Rendall). Powers took the lead and pushed the pace heading into the twists and turns following the start of the fourth lap.
All it took was one clip of his shoe against the barriers and Powers was on the ground. He was hit twice accidentally from behind by teammates Johnson and Anthony while struggling to find his footing to pick up his bike.
"Powers crashed at the hurdles and I got him with my chain ring right in his back," Johnson explained. "You get on and off your bike with your hands on the tops and I went to put my bike back on the ground, I looked up and I slammed right into him.
"I was bummed because it would have been nice to have all three of us Cyclocrossworld.com riders up there. To lose Jeremy; he puts a lot of heart and energy into this, to have to sit on the ground and get run over a few times..."
Driscoll and St. John managed to squeeze through the partially blocked path and taking the lead on the way up the hill. However, the pair were caught half a lap later by regrouping riders Johnson, Anthony and Jacques-Maynes. The crash may have momentarily slowed the leaders but it allowed a breather for chasing riders Watson and Tristan Schouten (Planet Bike) to rejoin the game.
Johnson made his winning move before the start of the ascent on the fourth lap. St John put forth a valiant effort to chase the lone leader but it was not enough to successfully bridge across. Johnson's lead grew to a healthy ten seconds ahead of his teammate Driscoll who placed his bid for second.
Jacques-Maynes mustered up the energy to attack the remaining chase companions on the way up the slopes riding in third place, a grueling effort that left him lagging behind on the final laps. St. John, Watson and Schouten worked together over the dry, grassy terrain to catch back up to Jacques-Maynes with enough time to play a tactical game to the finish line for third.
"I blew myself up," said Jacques-Maynes. "It was so hard to get myself up this hill so many times fast. I started out trying to get a gap, cuz everything was decided early on last year. I wanted to be aggressive at the start knowing that I would be pretty shafted at the end. This is a real mountain biker course with a really steep hill, so many starts and stops. It doesn't favor a power rider like me at all."
Johnson rolled in with a victory salute and greeted at the finish line by his wife, retired professional biker Lyne Bessette. As Driscoll sewed up second place, the race was on for third. A slight bobble out of the last corner on part of St. John allowed Watson the slim advantage he needed to win the final sprint.
"It kind of widdled down to three of us with two laps to go," Watson said. "I just wanted to get out and get some clear trail. St. John went with me and followed for about a lap. He got by me on the climb and I went as hard as I could. He went by me and we stayed the same gap with half a lap to go. He slid out on his right side and I was able to get by him. I just went as hard as I could."
|1||Tim Johnson (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com||0:59:50|
|2||Jamey Driscoll (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com||0:00:26|
|3||Andrew Watson (Can) Norco Factory Team||0:00:35|
|4||Derrick St. John (Can) Garneau-Club Chaussures-Ogilvy||0:00:40|
|5||Tristan Schouten (USA) Planet Bike||0:00:55|
|6||Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling||0:01:27|
|7||Jesse Anthony (USA) Jamis Bikes||0:01:32|
|8||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com||0:01:49|
|9||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block-Kona||0:01:50|
|10||Mike Garrigan (Can) La Bicicletta / J. Lindeberg||0:02:12|
|11||Jared Stafford (Can) Bikesports Racing||0:02:31|
|12||Drew Mackenzie (Can) Island Racing Club||0:03:25|
|13||James Lalonde (USA) Planet Bike||0:03:33|
|14||Cameron Jette (Can) Trek Store Race Team||0:03:56|
|15||Kyle Douglas (Can) 3 Rox Racing||0:04:02|
|16||Derek Zandstra (Can) 3 Rox Racing||0:04:18|
|17||Osmond Bakker (Can) Emd Serono - Specialized||0:04:46|
|18||Mark Batty (Can) Planet Energy||0:05:01|
|19||Peter Morse (Can) Jet Fuel Coffee||0:05:35|
|20||Aroussen Laflamme (USA) Garneau-Club Chaussures-Ogilvy||0:05:49|
|21||Zachary Hughes (Can) Norco Evolution||0:05:57|
|22||Benjamin Popper (USA) Hrs / Rock Lobster||0:06:40|
|23||Matthew Farquharson (Can) Hb Cycling Club||0:07:06|
|24||Warren Macdonald (Can) Emd Serono - Specialized||0:07:24|
|25||Aaron Fillion (Can) Ride With Rendall||0:07:35|
|26||Glen Rendall (Can) Ride With Rendall||0:07:38|
|27||Tim Plunkett (Can) Speedriver.Com||0:08:02|
|28||Isaac Smith (Can) Team Mcor||0:08:15|
|29||Graham Shrive (Can) Racer Sportif/Mattamy Homes||0:08:43|
|30||Peter Mancini (Can) Esteemtraining.Com||0:09:19|
|31||Erik Box (Can) Garneau-Club Chaussures-Ogilvy||0:13:32|
|32||John Van Arragon (Can) The Hub Race Team|
|33||Sean Kelly (Can) Peterborough Cycling Club|
|34||Shaun Adamson (Can) Juventus|
|35||Nick Bishop (Can) The Hub Race Team|
|36||Wai-Ben Wong (Can) Gears & Grinds Kingston|
|37||Mark Brusso (Can) Lapdogs Cycling Club|
|38||Tyler Trace (Can) Trek Red Truck|
|39||Nathan Chown (Can) Nickel City Cyclists|
|40||Doug Hinan (Can) Peterborough Cycling Club|
|41||Nathaniel Ward (USA) Bikereg.Com / Joes Garage / If|