The future of Canadian cyclocross is strong. Two Canadian champions, 19-year-olds Ruby West (Specialized- Ten Speed Hero) of Dundas, Ont. in the elite women’s field and Gunnar Holmgren (Hardwood Next Wave Cycling Team) of Orillia, Ont. in the elite men’s field took back to back wins at Sherbrooke CX over the weekend. Nice fall weather and dry conditions made the course fast and tactical while wind affected the tactics on the familiar terrain.

It was the first time a Quebec venue hosted a UCI cyclocross weekend . The venue on the shores of Lac des Nations in Parc Jacques-Cartier which was used for two consecutive years to host the Canadian cyclocross championships delivered exciting racing across all categories on two beautiful days. Canada’s talented young cyclocross stars delivered big wins on both days of racing dominating the weekend. Both West and Holmgren had won national titles at the venue.

The wins were West’s seventh and eighth career UCI victories after taking six last season while for Holmgren it was his first career UCI wins. On Saturday, Holmgren won in spectacular fashion after needing to chase for most of the race after breaking his BOA dial on his shoe early in the race.

“I felt good at the beginning but then rode too close to another rider and the BOA on one of my shoes came off. I was able to go back on the course and find it,” Holmgren explained. “I caught the tail-end of the lead group with two laps to go. It was a very tactical race with not much climbing and a lot of wind so I knew that if I paced it right, people will start looking at each other.”

West made her own comeback to racing after suffering a concussion in training. The injury derailled the beginning of her season which was scheduled to include the opening two rounds of the UCI World Cup.

“I didn’t know what to expect with my form coming into this. It wasn’t an easy race at all. It’s not just one attack that decided the race,” she said. “It was one lap of sustained effort trying to break the elastic between Regina [Legge] and I. I was quite nervous to be out there alone in the wind the whole time but I was my best bet so I went for it.”

West took the win ahead of Legge and Magdeleine Vallieres Mill while Holmgren won ahead of Raphaël Gagné and Marc Andre-Fortier.

The second day of racing on Sunday was similarly successful for the two 19-year-olds.

“I was feeling really good so I gave a good attack in at the beginning of the race and it stuck,” said Holmgren about going with six laps to go. Holmgren crossed the line with a comfortable 1:30 margin of victory ahead of Fortin and American Sam Noel.

In the women’s race, West joined forces with Vallieres Mill to build a gap on the chasers. Only in the closing laps did the two start to fight it out for the victory. “It was really hard, we went for it from the start,” West said after taking the win. “We worked well together at the front. We train together on the road so it was a familiar feeling. And then it just came down to throwing blows at each other in an all-out battle.”

West crossed the line eight second ahead of Vallieres Mill with Legge a minute back in third.

 

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