A top field is expected to toe the start lines for the elite men's and women's Canadian Cyclo-cross Championships in Peterborough on Saturday. Newly crowned Pan American cyclo-cross champion Maghalie Rochette (CX Fever p/b Specialized) will highlight the women's field, while Pan Am runner-up Michael van den Ham (Garneau-Easton) will be on the start line, Cycling Canada announced Friday.
The races will take place in Nicholls Oval Park, and more than 350 athletes are registered to compete. Maple-leaf jerseys will be awarded to winners of all categories: women and men masters, junior and under-23, and elite men and women.
"We are very excited to cap off our 2018 season with the Canadian Cyclo-cross Championships, to be hosted in Peterborough’s iconic Nicholls Oval Park," said Josh Peacock, Events Manager at Cycling Canada.
"This year will be the first of a two-year commitment from the organizer to bring the event to the region, and we anticipate action-packed racing across all categories. Riders will be entering the weekend looking for redemption following the Pan American Championships, and as a result we expect attendance will be high and competition fierce."
Although Rochette is a favourite to win the title, she will face tough competition from former national cyclo-cross champion Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro Team), two-time Olympic track bronze medallist Jasmin Duehring (Twenty20), Canada Cup champion Jenn Jackson (AWI Racing p/b The Crank and Sprocket), former national cyclo-cross champion Mical Dyck (Naked Factory Racing), Sandra Walter (Liv Cycling) and Commonwealth Games mountain bike bronze medallist Haley Smith (Norco Factory Racing). Ruby West (Specialized Ten Speed Hero) aims to defend her title in the under-23/youth category.
Likewise, Van den Ham is a favourite for the men's title, but he will be challenged by 2015 national champion Raphael Gagne (Silverback-OMX) and former five-time winner Geoff Kabush (Yeti Maxxis Shimano). Other podium contenders include Peter Disera (Norco Factory Racing), Andrew L'Esperance (Forward Racing Norco), Marc-Andre Fortier (Pivot Cycles-OTE) and Trevor O'Donnell (Lakeside Storage/Bicycles Plus). Raphael Auclair (Pivot Cycles-OTE) will line up as the defending champion for the under-23 race.
Organisers are also offering a C2-level event following the championships on Sunday.
Tolkamp to step down as President of Cycling Canada
Cycling Canada also announced that federation President John Tolkamp will officially step down from his position next month after 10 years at the helm of the organization's Board of Directors. A special meeting has been called for December 12, when a new President will be elected by the organization's Provincial and Territorial members.
"This was certainly a difficult decision and one made after serious thought and consideration which included input from stakeholders, senior staff and the Board," Tolkamp said in a press release.
Tolkamp was instrumental in Cycling Canada adopting a stronger stance in the fight against doping and during his tenure the Mattamy National Cycling Center in Milton, Ontario, was constructed, which helped increase the number of international cycling events hosted in the country, the organisation highlighted in a statement to the press.
Cycling Canada has gone through a series of structural changes after both its Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technical Officer announced they were leaving the organization earlier this year. Tolkamp noted that it was also time for new leadership at the Board of Directors.
"I want to thank the entire Canadian cycling community for their support and collaboration over my term as President,"Tolkamp said. "It has been an absolute privilege to serve in this role and these 10 years have been immensely fulfilling, rewarding and one of the highlights of my life. We have accomplished much to improve and grow our sport in Canada and I have full confidence that my successor will continue this great momentum.
"While I am stepping down as President, my passion for the sport of cycling remains and I look forward to exploring other ways to grow the sport and continuing to support our athletes and the long term goals and objectives of Cycling Canada."