For the third year in a row, BC’s Michael van den Ham won the elite men’s Canadian cyclocross championship, the Easton-Giant rider overcoming a challenge from Marc-André Fortier in Peterborough, ON on Saturday. Gunnar Holmgren also repeated as U23 champ and Jacob Rubuliak shocked himself with the Junior title.
By the time the Junior and U23 men raced, the mud had dried and been churned by morning races into the consistency of peanut butter. A stiff wind rippled the flags and course tape. Tyler Orschel (Durham Shredders) led the U23 field after the first of seven laps with Holmgren (Hardwood Next Wave) hot on his wheels but holding back his efforts. Holmgren took over on Lap 2 and gradually pushed away from Orschel. Cruising on the bell lap, he still had the energy to bunny hop the planks. Having high-fived his way to the finish line where he stopped and kissed his front tire, Holmgren told Canadian Cycling Magazine that the off-camber corner leading to the run-up was the toughest part of the course. Tyler Clark (Brevard College), who finished just off the U23 podium last season, earned the bronze.
Jérémie La Grenade was the top Junior after Lap 1, but soon Matthew Leliveld grabbed the reins. On the final of five laps, Jacob Rubuliak, fifth in 2018, overtook Leliveld to take the victory. Rubuliak, stunned by his win, told Canadian Cycling, “I didn’t have a great start and was picking off people off the whole race. Then I just found some extra gas on that last lap and pinned it to the end.”
In the elite race, Canadian champ van den Ham claimed the hole shot with last year’s bronze medalist Fortier (Pivot Cycles-OTE) able to hang with him. The two finished Lap 1 just ahead of Trevor O’Donnell (Lakeside Storage/Bicycles Plus), Fortier not giving an inch to van den Ham and assuming the lead on Lap 2 when the champion crashed the pit.
By the midway point, Fortier had forced a 13-second gap. O’Donnell had podium competition from Alexandre Vialle and Derrick St. John.
Van den Ham wouldn’t relent and retook the lead on Lap 5, leading by 15 seconds with two laps left. Fortier got tangled up in the tape on the final corner. St. John fell back from Vialle and O’Donnell before Vialle went solo going into the bell lap.
The triple champion had plenty of time to celebrate.
2019 Canadian Cyclocross Championships Junior Men
1) Jacob Rubuliak
2) Matthew Leliveld +0:11
3) Jérémie La Grenade +0:47
2019 Canadian Cyclocross Championships U23 Men
1) Gunnar Holmgren (Hardwood Next Wave)
2) Tyler Orschel (Durham Shredders) +0:46
3) Tyler Clark (Brevard College) +1:33
2019 Canadian Cyclocross Championships Elite Men
1) Michael van den Ham (Easton-Giant) 57:47
2) Marc-André Fortier (Pivot Cycles-OTE) +0:24
3) Alexandre Vialle (Toyota/St-Eustache)