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The future of Canadian women’s CX?

Ava and Isabella Holmgren talk about their first World Cups

Photo by: Ben Sweet

The UCI Cyclocross World Cups have been riveting to watch. All three of the events in the United States have been full  of action. They’ve also been packed with some of the biggest names in cycling.

One of the biggest stars in road cycling, Marianne Vos, took the first event in Waterloo, and world champion Lucinda Brand scored the win in Fayetteville. Vos came back and took the final installment in Iowa City, but there was a strong Canadian contingent at all three races, including Maghalie Rochette who had two top-10s.

Vos takes second World Cup win in a week at Jingle Cross

Ava and Isabella Holmgren took some time off high school to make the trip stateside to enter the races. The Holmgren name should be familiar to you; their older brother Gunnar is the current U23 Canadian national cyclocross champion and one of the top riders in Canadian mountain biking.

An incredible experience

The Holmgren sisters had a great week: finishing almost all of the events, and both girls taking victories at the the two other UCI junior races: Ava won the UCI Trek Cup ahead of her sister, and then Isabella took first at the Jingle Cross C1.

Their results are even more impressive when you consider they are first year juniors, and these were the first cyclocross World Cups they’d ever entered.

“It was surreal to line up and see Marianne Vos and Lucinda Brand, right beside us. It was also so cool as these were girls we were used to seeing on TV,” Ava said. “I was really nervous because I had no way to measure how I was going to do, or if I could finish. I just wanted to do my best.”

Luckily the first World Cup in Fayetteville, Ark. wasn’t their first race this year. Even though COVID19 killed off a lot of the season, they still got a chance to race some MTB Canada Cups and the national championships.

So many fans

They were both impressed with not only the speed, but the technical prowess of their fellow racers. “The other girls were really fast in their dismounting, even at the back of the race, everyone is fast,” Ava said. “The atmosphere was amazing with all the fans cheering. I’ve never had so many people cheer for me. It was such a good refresher from COVID, and not being able to race as much these past few years.”

Eli Iserbyt wins second career Jingle Cross, Michael van den Ham 18th

Both girls said Jingle Cross was their favourite stop of the races. The fans were at every corner and proved to be the best motivation. For Isabella, the races were a good eye-opener for the future. “I saw what it takes to be at the top level, so we can get back to training and planning for the future, and more World Cups down the road.”

Isabella Holmgren Photo by: Ben Sweet

Building up to Victoria

Both girls will be aiming for the national championships next month in Victoria, but have a few more races in the states before that happens. They are on their way to Cincinnati for the final stop of the USCX National Series.