Rain started to fall on the start line the elite men’s race, adding some excitement to an already heated battle for the first cyclocross national championship to be awarded since 2019.
Tyler Clark took the race to the field early on then backed that up with a last-lap surge. The CHC Armada rider is the 2022 elite men’s cyclocross national champion.
Elite Men: Clark classes field
Coming into Saturday’s elite men’s race, it was Canadian veteran Michael van den Ham (Giant-Easton) expected to set the pace. The 2019 champ faced a field of younger contenders and, with no national races for two years, everything was a bit unknown. Instead, it was Tyler Clark (CHC Armada) leading the field off the line.
A lead group of five quickly formed, led by Clark. Van den Ham, Gunnar Holmgren (Pivot Cycles-OTE), Tyler Orschel (CHC Armada) and 2019 XCC mountain bike national champ Quinton Disera all settled in on Clark’s wheel.
That group held stable until the fourth of seven laps. Clark, Holmgren and Disera traded leads on the front while van den Ham and Orschel started to show signs of cracking. Brody Sanderson (AWI Cycling) started to put pressure on the chasing group from sixth position.
As the rain picked up, making Layritz Park’s off-camber corners treacherous, Clark continued to put on pressure. The CHC Armada racer has built momentum all fall, finishing fifth overall in the USCX series, one spot behind van den Ham. That cyclocross-specific experience paid off on Saturday, as Clark split the front trio on the final lap.
Tyler Clark wins his first elite men’s Canadian cyclocross national championships.
Quinton Disera held on to take silver, 21 seconds behind Clark. Gunnar Holmgren followed 5.58 seconds alter to take the final spot on the podium in third. Michael van den Ham has to settle for fourth while Tyler Orschel finishes fifth.
Strategy in a field with wildly different strengths
“Lead from the front was definitely the goal. I wanted to be the first person into the technical section,” Clark said of his strategy going into Sturday’s race. “I didn’t want to be behind someone making a mistake or just lose a wheel. When it started racing on the start line, and I looked around and I was the only one on full mud tires, I guessed it would be a good plan.”
With few of the favorites having had much time on course with each other, Clark said there was plenty of unknowns going into the elite men’s race.
“Everyone knew van den Ham was the guy to beat. You don’t win the race three times and not come in considered the favorite at the fourth,” Clark shared of who he was watching for. “I was expecting Gunnar [Holmgren] to be up there for sure, which he was early on. He came by me on the first road section and he was punching it, putting down a lot of power. Quinton [Disera] was a bit of a wild card, he hasn’t raced any cross this year. He came around halfway through the race and he was riding the technical sections extremely well. That’s how we got our gap, I just followed his wheel as best I could and was kind of able to rest on the road sections.”
While everyone at the front had a strength, Clark was one rider happy to see the rain start falling.
“All the guys do well on different courses. Other guys definitely have a lot of power, so it is hard to keep up with them on the fast corners. When it gets slippery that advantage goes away a bit, it’s all about staying upright and making as few mistakes as possible.”
Results: Elite Men – 2022 Canadian cyclocross national championships (Layritz Park, Victoria, B.C.)
|1||Clark, Tyler – CHC Armada
|3||Holmgren, Gunnar – Pivot Cycles – OTE
|4||Van Den Ham, Michael – Giant x Easton
|6||Sanderson, Brody – AWI Cycling p/b The Crank & Sprocket
|7||Pauly, Ethan – TaG Cycling Club
|8||Fagnan, Mark – The Bike Shop Racing
|9||Merino, Fabian – Broad Street Cycles
|10||Wakefield, Brett – Team Giant Vancouver
|12||Davidson, Andrew – The Bike Shop Racing
|13||Killam, Nathan – Hewdog Racing
|14||Lefebvre, Alex – Peterborough CC
|15||Wiebe, Logan – Prairie Fire Racing
|16||Dalling, Ness – Bikes and Beyond
|19||Mullen, Kolby – UBC Cycling Sport Club
|20||Garber, Sam – Tripleshot CC
|22||Singbeil, Matthew – The Bike Shop Racing