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Bella and Ava Holmgren, Maghalie Rochette on an historic day of cyclocross

The Canadian took her nation's first CX rainbow jersey, ahead of her sister

Ava and Bella Holmgren Photo by: Connor Gregory

Isabella and Ava Holmgren came to Hoogerheide, the Netherlands, with one goal in mind: to win Canada’s first world championship medal. They did even better, snagging two: the gold and silver.

The sight of Bella crossing the line in tears, her arms in the air in a glorious victory salute, has been a long time coming. The twins have been dominating the UCI World Cup scene this season. Maghalie Rochette, who has been racing cross for a decade, couldn’t have been prouder of the sisters. She believes it says a lot about how much progress Canada has made.

“I was so emotional, I am so proud of them. They have a good group, the Stimulus-Orbea team, with the two of them, Ian Ackert and Mark and Rob,” Rochette said. “It’s fun to watch. I was so proud that it all worked out.”

Gold and silver: the Holmgren twins make Canadian cross history

Rochette also added that results like Saturday’s are part of a long progression for Canadians who have made their way into a sport dominated by Europeans.

“Coming to Belgium and doing ‘cross, it took years to earn the respect and to learn the ropes. There are all sorts of little things that are part of the sport, all that is pretty hard. It took years to figure it out,” She said, after finishing 9th in the elite women’s race. “Now we are in a spot where we as a country are well respected here and people in the community can help us. But I can take no credit for their result. They achieved it and it was awesome to watch.”

When Bella crossed the line, and embraced her parents, it was Ava who sprinted toward her after finishing second. Bella, in tears, hugged her twin and all she could say was, “I love you.” It was an emotional finish for the twin after an incredible performance. Both riders had relatively slow starts on the day, and had to claw their way back from just outside of the top 10. But once they got to the lead, it was an impressive display of strength.

“I was super excited as I crossed the line. I couldn’t really process it and looked back to see my sister in second and it was nice,” Bella said after the race.

Her sister, Ava, was beaming after the race, thrilled with the results. “I came here to get Canada’s first medal. And what happened was even better, my sister won! I just celebrated for her and our family and our country. Today was just awesome,” Ava said.