He may have had bad luck and finished four laps down on winner Wout Van Aert but Mark McConnell of Calgary’s spirits remained high after a messy race in Bieles, Luxembourg. “It was really muddy today, but I’ve never had more fun at a race, I think.”

RELATED: Mark ‘Hot Sauce’ McConnell focused on his process as European campaign closes with worlds in Bieles

McConnell is a do-it-yourself pro whose used his Hot Sauce brand to fund a two month and 10 race campaign in Europe which wrapped up at the 2017 cyclocross championships. The technical course delivered exciting races all weekend but the elite men’s race was the muddiest with rain overnight making it even slippery and more treacherous. “There was obstacle after obstacle, but the crowd was fantastic. I had the worst luck,” explained McConnell who finished 55th. “I crashed at the start and had a flat, but it was just carnage today. I was just doing everything to focus on my lines and keep it upright.”

🇧🇪 Wout Van Aert's championship 🌈 winning Felt. Green tires and all. #bieles2017 #worldchamps #felt #cross #zipp #fastandfurious #mud

A photo posted by Canadian Cycling Magazine (@canadiancycling) on

Michael Van den Ham of Edmonton was Canada’s top rider in the elite men’s race that saw a dual between Van Aert and Matthieu van der Poel take place up front. Van den Ham finished 38th, two laps down on the winner. Canadian national champion Jérémy Martin of Quebec City finished three laps down in 47th with McConnell in 55th. Only 29 of the races 64 starters finished on the same lap as the winners who set a blistering pace throughout the race.

Ahead of the race, Van den Ham and McConnell hung out on a particularly treacherous section of the course. The conditions changed drastically on the off chamber section but continued to play a decisive role in the race. It was the section that Sanne Cant in the elite women’s race was able to pass Marianne Vos and take the lead heading into the finale. In the elite men’s race, Van der Poel appears to have flatted after sliding his rear wheel out towards the bottom of the section.

RELATED: Rochette rides breakthrough race at ‘cross worlds despite ‘horrible start’

The under-23 men kicked off the racing on the second day of the world championships with Trevor O’Donnell of Barrier, Ont. finishing in 46th, three laps down on Joris Nieuwenhuis of the Netherlands.

The day before, Maghalie Rochette had a tremendous ride to take fifth overall in the elite women’s race. It was a breakthrough performance for the 23-year.


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