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Underdog Curtis steals a victory in Toronto

Katy Curtis (CMC BOW- Cycle) plowed away from a small but quality field through the sand pit to take a solo victory in round one of the Toronto Cyclo-cross at Centennial Park on Saturday. Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chaussures-Ogilvy) was forced to settle for second place ahead of Pepper Harlton (Juventus) in third.

“I think I’m a cross racer now,” Curtis said. “I’ve always liked the idea of cross and started racing out west last year. Pepper Harlton dragged me out here this weekend. I’d say I was a bit of an unknown today. I think this kind of technical course suited me and I really liked the sand pit.”

The start list may have appeared thinned in comparison to the previous years when the event was a member of the North American Cyclo-cross Trophy (NACT) series. Although it is not apart of the series this year, many of the top Canadian riders were in attendance including defending champion Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chaussures-Ogilvy, Olympian Leigh Hobson (Hub Racing) and a trio of mountain bikers Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing), Pepper Hartlon (Juventus) and Katy Curtis (CMC Bow Cycling).

Curtis took the race by the reins and assumed a leading position in the opening lap. The headstrong move came to a surprise to her competitors who were not aware of her cyclo-cross ability. She went on to initiate several attacks against her two lead rivals Elliott and Harlton.

Elliott won both events last year but struggled to stay with the two mountain bikers and spent the majority of the race closing gaps and
clawing her way through each lap.

“I got a late start to training because I was really sick most of the this year with a parasitic infection,” Elliott said. “I took a lot of time off
and started training in July. I’m having problems with my starts and I’m trying to work my way into it. I’m trying to build fitness as the season goes on.”

A chase group formed behind that included Hobson, Melissa Bunn and Sophie Matte (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery), Laura Bietola and Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing).

Harlton lost a few seconds through the sand pit and a few more after an untimely bobble on the off-camber hill at the start of the last lap. “I came out of the sand pit bad and I was trying to chase back on. I had a bit of adrenaline going and went through the corner a bit too hard. It was good to get the bugs out and the intensity going so I am happy with today.”

Curtis sprinted ahead of Elliott to take the lead through the sand pit on the last lap. She sprinted out of the sand with a slim lead, just enough to hold off Elliott for the win.

“I could never get in front on the sand and whoever got there first would slow down and because there was only one line there was no where to go,” Elliott said. “It affected the end of the race. I tried to get in front there but Katy got a good gap there, she had a good race.”

Full Results
1Katy Curtis (Can) CMC/Bow Cycle0:42:27
2Natasha Elliott (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy0:00:04
3Pepper Harlton (Can) Juventus0:00:24
4Melissa Bunn (Can) Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery0:02:26
5Leigh Hobson (Can) The Hub Race Team0:03:09
6Amanda Sin (USA) 3 Rox Racing0:03:22
7Marne Smiley (USA) Scott/Ollett Coaching0:03:33
8Sophie Matte (Can) Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery0:04:55
9Laura Bietola (Can) 3 Rox Racing0:06:06
10Christiane Knobbe (Ger) 7thgroove/Re:Form Body Clinic0:06:49
11Emily Fisher (Can) Cycle Solutions/Angry Johnny's0:08:30
12Emily Flynn (Can) Emd Serono0:08:41
13Briana Illingworth (Can) True North Cycles Race Team-1lap
14Aimee Allen (Can) Maple Leaf Cycling Club

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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