At the UCI Jim Horner Cyclo-Cross Grand-Prix in Alberta, Canada, freshly-crowned national champions Wendy Simms (Kona) and Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) would not be outdone by the weekend’s repeat victors of Nys, Trebon, Dombrowski, Powers, and Compton. The Canadian pros were determined to show they too could dominate a weekend of racing, and pulled off their second victories of the weekend, racking up valuable points for their later European campaigns. Full report below.
Kabush and Simms Win Double Header
by Joe Sales
Geoff Kabush (Maxxis/Litespeed) and Wendy Simms (Kona) lined up for the start of the UCI C1 Jim Horner Cyclo-Cross Grand-prix resplendent in their brand new National Championship jerseys earned the day before. Raced on the exact same course as the previous day’s Nationals- with only slight changes – Kabush and Simms, as well the newly crowned Junior National Champion Evan Guthrie (Cycling BC) rode straight to the front of their respective fields and repeated their victories of the day before.
Matching the weather pattern of the previous day, masters racers were subjected to chilly and overcast early morning weather but by the time the elite races started the clouds had disappeared and the bright sun warmed the already dry course.
It’s quite clear you are racing cross in Canada when the elite race features a first lap hot spot prime for a pair of hockey tickets to the sold-out Edmonton Oilers season opener. Kabush started fast and edged out Mike Garrigan for the coveted tickets and the surge led to a split of 5 or 6 racers. (Kabush donated the tickets back to the Juventus club and the Oilers won in a nail bitter) Garrigan, suffering from both sprained ribs and the strain of the day before, fell off the pace at about the half way mark but Kabush was still left with several riders looking to best him on this second day of racing. Notable on this list was Tim Heemskerk (United Cycle Racing), an Edmonton local who is a Dutch citizen and was not able to race in the Canadian Nationals the day before. Heemskerk seemed to miss the early break but slowly worked his way up through the field and eventually onto Kabush’s wheel. Also in contention was Derrick St. John (Stevens Cross) and he was also able to keep close tabs on Kabush until the final two laps when Kabush shed himself of the remaining contenders and again soloed in for another victory. Heemskerk was second and St. John was third.
Following the race Kabush confirmed that it was his last race of the season. After a long Olympic build-up he said he needed a good rest. He also noted that the UCI points he earned over the weekend will help him at the start of next season when he hopes to have a more organized ‘cross presence.
In the women’s race Pepper Harlan (Team Alberta/Juventus) managed to lock onto Simms wheel at the start. The pair stayed together at the front for a couple of laps until Simms surged and Harlan couldn’t stay with her. After gaining an initial 30 seconds the gap remained fairly steady and Harlan continued to chase in earnest and again finished second behind Simms. Dawn Berg (Oak Bay Bikes/Ever Ti) was third. Sarah Stewart (Total Restoration) who finished third the day before was unable to race. She hurt her hand during the Nationals race and after the medals ceremony she went to the hospital to get it looked at and x-rays revealed a broken hand.
Simms, having garnered a healthy input of UCI points over the weekend is getting set to travel to Europe as part of her over-all plan to better her 6th last year at Worlds.
Junior Evan Guthrie (Cycling BC) was also particularly motivated to win on the second day of racing. Proudly sporting his new National Champions jersey he dropped the rest of the small but talented field of juniors on the opening lap, steadily built up a commanding lead and enthusiastically celebrated his win.
The Juventus Cycling Club will play host to the Canadian Nationals again next year.