Teenage twins Isabella and Ava Holmgren made Canadian cycling history on Saturday, national junior champ Isabella earning the first rainbow jersey for a Canuck and national elite champ Ava coming second in the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. Up until Saturday a Canadian had never won a single medal.
Hoogerheide is a World Cup standard, with an infamous off-camber section, a long staircase and triple flyovers. Rain overnight made it very greasy.
Ava and Isabella Holmgren had teammates in Madeleine Pollock and Geza Rodgers, the Canadians making up four of the 47 contestants. The twins’ main rival would be Dutch rider Lauren Molengraaf, who won four of the five Junior World Cup women’s races. Belgian duo Fleur Moors and Lore de Schepper bore watching.
Molengraaf snatched the lead on the first 3.2 km lap. Bella sifted back but Ava stayed near the front. Molengraaf took a new bike. Ava moved up to third and Isabella up to seventh. Ava led over the line.
Ava continued to pull the string on Lap 2 with Isabella in Position 6. Molengraaf took over with Ava on her wheel and France’s Celia Gery behind her. The Dutch rider crashed when she lost her grip. Ava again took over the front with Bella on her six. Ava pulled a sixpack of rider over the line.
On Lap 3 of 5 Isabella grabbed the reins, her sister three seconds back and Molengraaf leading a chase of three until she punctured. When she entered the penultimate lap, Bella’s lap was six seconds clear of her twin, Italy’s Frederica Venturelli third.
On the penultimate lap, Ava’s silver had two threats, Venturelli and Gery. Isabella had a 13-second lead going into the final lap.
There were buckets of tears of joy from the twins after the line. They had made a big noise in international cross.
2023 UCI ‘Cross Junior Women’s World Championship
1) Isabella Holmgren (Canada) 42:13
2) Ava Holmgren (Canada) +0:20
3) Celia Gery (France) +0:47
38) Madeleine Pollock (Canada) +5:30
41) Geza Rodgers (Canada) +7:05