Pro mountain biker Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) is aiming to win a second consecutive red and white maple leaf jersey at the Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships held in Argyll Park in Edmonton, Alberta this weekend. The championship event is held in conjunction with the International Cycling Union (UCI) ranked Jim Horner Grand Prix on Sunday, October 11.
The jersey is not the only reason Canadians flock to compete in their national championships. They are notorious for getting ahead of the game when it comes to collecting valuable UCI points. Kabush and his fellow country-men are competing for a hefty helping of 120 points awarded to the winners of the elite men's and women's categories.
"It's important to win Canadian nationals," Kabush said. "One nice thing is that it's so early. I'm hoping I can coast through that with my fitness and still do well."
Canada is the only country to hold its cyclo-cross championships in early October. The USA hosts its championships in December while the majority of European countries are held in January.
Last year's championships saw Kabush rocket to the top fifteen in the world based on the points he collected by winning the national championships. Likewise, his female counterpart Wendy Simms (KONA) topped the UCI rankings after her victory. Simms will not be participating in the championships this season.
"It's a bonus for Canadians because we get that big whack of UCI points and that's important for the 'cross starts to be in the front row," he continued. "I'm psyched, it's so critical with all the points setting to zero to get those early season points, so it's a benefit for us Canadians."
Kabush is an odds on favorite to win the title. He recently ended a successful mountain bike season with a World Cup win in Bromont, Quebec in August followed by a 5th place in the UCI World Championships held in Canberra, Australia in September. Without rest from a lengthy season on the mountain bike, he lined up to compete in CrossVegas to kick off cyclo-cross season.
"Gary our mechanic pieced together my bike," said Kabush who squeezed a week-long break following the first US Gran Prix of Cyclo-Cross held at the end of September. "It's tough on the riders and the mechanics. Now I'm back were I started, a little travel weary. I really enjoy ‘cross but it sure would be nice if we had just a week off or something between mountain bike and 'cross."
Kabush's successful mountain bike finale was a good indication that a strong ‘cross season would follow. However, he decided to limit the amount of travel time by focussing on only the USGP series, Canadian Nationals and the Boulder Cup.
"Coming off the mountain bike season, it's tempting to try and do more racing but it's just too much," he said. "I picked the USGP series and I think that will be enough racing in the 'cross season. I try to keep 'cross fun. We are doing a full program so I want to try and do well, too. I used to be able to coast the 'cross season, but now there's a lot of riders focussing on it and taking it pretty seriously."
Limiting travel to and from the East and West coasts, Kabush decided not to compete in the upcoming Toronto International Cyclo-Cross held on October 17th and 18th. "I'd like to support that race but I'd also like to ease into the 'cross season," he said. "Otherwise I'd have to go to Canadian nationals and then back to the East coast again. I want to race ad have fun but I need some time to recharge and be at home."