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Could Ian Ackert be the first Canadian elite man to finish top-10 at the CX worlds?

The Ontario rider had a strong race at the under-23 event and is poised for a promising future

Ian Ackert had a great ride in Tábor, Czech Republic, taking a well-deserved sixth place in the under-23 race. It was no shock–he’s been consistently getting better since 2022, when he started the junior worlds at the back of the field due to a mechanical issue on the first lap. Despite this setback, he fought his way through the junior competition, finishing in eighth place.

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Since then, his performance has continued to improve, winning the under-23 national championships and achieving some big results in mountain biking. In 2023, Ackert took a bronze medal at the junior world XC championships and recently joined Trek Future Racing.

He’s a first-year under-23–so he’s got a few more cracks at a rainbow jersey. But what about when he races elite? Sorry to get ahead of ourselves, Ian, but it’s just an exciting prospect of what you’ll do with the big boys. If you look at the recent winners in the under-23 worlds, you’ll see lots of familiar faces. Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Joris Nieuwenhuis, Tom Pidcock, Eli Iserbyt, Thibau Nys–you get the point.

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Although Canada has made it in the top-10 in the elite women’s races, thanks to Maghalie Rochette, it still hasn’t happened for the men. Mark Orzel was the first Canadian to head across the pond to compete at the pro men’s cyclocross worlds in Hägendorf, Switzerland, in 1988 finishing in 38th. The following year, Jim Sciberas would join Orzel, and would finish 48th, just behind Orzel. A few years later, a quartet of Canadians—Brian Pedersen, Kris Westwood, Bill Hurley and Peter Wedge—would spend several years racing in Europe.

Although they’d flirt with a top-30, (as did rider Mike Garrigan) it wasn’t until Geoff Kabush raced the worlds in 2013 a Canadian would crack that mark. He finished 24th. Six years later, Michael van den Ham did the same, as well as finishing 25th in 2022.

Sure, 2027 is a ways away, but could that be the year that we see a Canuck finish in the top-10 at the elite ‘cross worlds?

No pressure Ian, but it sure would be great to see.