Sheppard tops Garrigan for Canadian championship

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."

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Full Results
1Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles P/B Shimano)1:00:52
2Mike Garrigan0:00:27
3Aaron Schooler (Team H&R Block from Edmonton)0:00:47
4Derrick St. John (Garneau-Club Chaussures-Ogilvy Renault)0:01:56
5Craig Richey (CyclocrossRacing.Com/Victoria)0:02:05
6Tyler Trace (Trek Red Truck Racing P/B Mosaic Homes)0:02:14
7Andrew Watson (Norco Factory Team from Barrie)0:02:39
8Nathan Chown (Handlebars Cycling Company : Queen City Cyclists)0:02:56
9Adam Morka (Trek Canada from Fonthill)0:03:10
10Kevin Calhoun (Rocky Mountain Bicycles P/B Shimano)0:03:17
11Thierry LaLiberte (XPREZO-BORSAO from Shefford)0:03:19
12Erik Box (Cycles Devinci from Toronto)0:03:25
13Nicholas Berry (Mighty Riders from Vancouver)0:04:03
14Shawn Bunnin (Team Alberta : bicisport/Calgary)0:04:10
15Aroussen Laflamme (XPREZO-BORSAO from St-Augustin)0:04:21
16Shaun Adamson (Cycle-Smart, Inc./Edmonton)0:04:35
17Raphaël Gagné (Rocky Mountain Bicycles Factory Team)0:04:54
18Peter Mancini ( from Bolton)0:05:02
19Kevin Noiles (La Bicicletta Elite Team)0:05:49
20Drew MacKenzie (Island Racing Club/Victoria)0:05:58
21Matthew Krahn (Redbike from Edmonton)Row 20 - Cell 2
22Peter Morse (Jet Fuel Coffee from Toronto)0:06:06
23Greg Reain (Ride With Rendall from Ottawa)0:06:46
24Kevin Black (Wheels of Bloor from Toronto)0:07:02
25Nathan Underwood (Ride With Rendall from Chelsea)0:07:11
26William Goodfellow0:07:23
27Timothy Carleton (Trek Store Race Team/Toronto)0:07:59
28Marco Li (Darkhorse Flyers from Toronto)-1lap
29Imad El-Ghazal (Kunstadt Sports Cycling Club)-2laps
30Kyle Douglas (3 Rox Racing from Oshawa)Row 29 - Cell 2
31Steve Timmons (Eagle Owl from Montreal)Row 30 - Cell 2
32Isaac Smith (Darkhorse Flyers from Grimsby)Row 31 - Cell 2
33Shawn Clarke (The Cyclery from Woodlawn)-3laps
34Marc LaPointe ( Cycling Team)Row 33 - Cell 2
35Tristan Smit (Evolution Cycles/Richmond Hill)Row 34 - Cell 2
36Jeff Moote (The Hub Race Team/Niagara Falls)-4laps
37Andrew Lees ( Cycling Team)Row 36 - Cell 2
38Doug Hinan (Peterborough Cycling Club)Row 37 - Cell 2
39Ross HorsleyRow 38 - Cell 2
40François-Charles Dumas (Devinci from Verdun)Row 39 - Cell 2
41Brandon Parker (Mountainview Cycling Club)-5laps
42Camilo Mondaca (Darkhorse Flyers from Toronto)Row 41 - Cell 2
DNFSylvain Jean (Kona Bio-Max/Morin-Heights)Row 42 - Cell 2
DNFPascal Bussieres (Team Spirit/Cannondale pb Rhus Elementi)Row 43 - Cell 2
DNSScott Fitzgerald (Lapdogs Cycling Club/Toronto)Row 44 - Cell 2
DNSCameron Jette (La Bicicletta Elite Team)Row 45 - Cell 2

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