Across frozen ground and through deep mud, Canada’s best female cyclocross racers were the final title event at Saturday’s Canadian cyclocross nationals championships in Peterborough, Ont.
After winning the previous weekends Pan American championship at the Silver Goose, Maghalie Rochette was the odd-on favourite in the elite women’s race. The CX Fever p/b Specialized rider wasted no time, with an explosive start that saw her in the lead literally from the word go until she crossed the finish line.
Behind Rochette, though, Sandra Walter and Jenn Jackson were in a heated battle for the final podium positions. Neither rider seemed to be able to hold an advantage for long, until the final lap. Jackson (AWI Racing) eked out enough of an advantage to take the silver ahead of Giant Canada’s Walter.
Starting one minute behind the elites were the under-23 women. Looking to defend her national title from 2017, Ruby West (Specialized-Tenspeed Hero) established a gap to her competitors, then quickly started working her way through the elite women’s field. By the time she claimed her second straight U23 title, West had passed all but four of her senior racers.
Behind West, Dana Gilligan (Cacogep-Argon 18-Girondins de Bordeaux p/b Mazda) rode to silver and Laurie Arsenault (ACQ), Canada’s under 23 cross country mountain bike national champion, claimed third.
Racers were doing whatever they could to stay warm before Saturday's start. Walter and Jackson both hid under layers of puffy jackets
The last pre-race jitters, or shivers, before the race start.
one minute behind the elites, Canada's top under 23 women lined up for their title race
Treacherous ruts and off camber mud lined several sections of the Peterborough course
Arsenault over the barriers
Jenn Jackson focused and riding the steep, muddy hill clean on her way to second
Pendrel was one of the few to find traction outside the main rut
Nearly everyone struggled up the Shimano run up. West seemed to float up the hill.
Jackson and Walter collide mid-run up
Even Rochette, who looked fast up the steep mud steps most laps
Occasionally put a hand down on her way to the win
Walter finds rare traction up Heckler's Hill
Rochette railing the off camber up hill corner on her way to th win
The crowds were a little thinner Saturday than Sunday, but still plenty vocal.
West carrying speed through the long off camber after Heckler's Hill
Mical Dyck turns the corner towards fifth in the elite women's race
Ruby West celebrates a second straight under 23 title
Maghalie Rochette removed her glove in the cold to flash the CX Fever sign to the crowd at nationals.
Jenn Jackson (2nd), Maghalie Rochette (1st), Sandra Walter (3rd)
Ruby West will wear the maple leaf for a second straight year as the under 23 women's national champion
Dana Gilligan (2nd), Ruby West (1st), Laurie Arsenault (3rd)