(Winnipeg) – Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) and Geoff Kabush (SCOTT 3Rox) won the elite races at the Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross by slipping away from their primary rivals in the final minutes of racing. The UCI C2 race wrapped up the three-day Shimano Canadian Cyclocross Championships in Winnipeg.
Pendrel Takes Over Durrin’s Lead Late in the Race
The battle for UCI points and the win got started when Maghalie Rochette (Luna Pro Team) rode away with the holeshot for the second time over the weekend. Pendrel, who had claimed her second Canadian cyclocross championship the day before, slotted into fourth or fifth place.
The course’s tricky off-camber turns claimed their next victim early in lap one when Rochette lost traction and put a foot down. The mishap sent her back to seventh on course in a twisty grass section and helped Gabby Durrin (Neon Velo) take charge of the group that began to outdistance the field.
Durrin gained some separation over a threesome consisting of Pendrel, Ellen Noble (JAM Fund Cycling Team), and Mical Dyck (Stan’s NoTubes). In the first pass through the sand pits, riders slowed, holding up Pendrel, and Durrin peeled away. Rochette and Natasha Elliott (Cycle-Smart) chased.
In the second lap Pendrel escaped from her group to pursue Durrin alone. The Canadian nibbled away at Durrin’s ten second lead and caught her with one lap to go. Rochette, who had moved up to third on course, trailed twenty seconds behind riding alone ahead of Noble.
At the end of the back-to-back long double sand pits Pendrel got the jump on Durrin in the last lap. “At the concrete steps by the sand, she cut in a bit faster and was able to power away,” Durrin said. “I never quite got back on her and then she was gone.”
Pendrel won her second race in two days with just a four second margin. Rochette, the best U23 rider at the finish, arrived thirty seconds later. Noble held on for fourth ahead of Dyck.
In the end Durrin felt content with her effort on the day. “It’s great to race with Catharine [Pendrel] because she’s a super champion. I felt good. I was thinking of what Mike [Garrigan] did to win yesterday and thought, ‘Maybe it will work, maybe I can stay away.’ But when you’ve got Catharine who is super strong coming up behind you, it’s tough.”
Pendrel said she fed off the energy from the crowds cheering for their Canadian riders.
“Definitely when I went to the front the crowd got a lot louder so that was a really cool experience,” the Luna rider said. “It was fun to win the national championship and then race other nations and have Canada come out on top. That was a really neat aspect of today.”
Pendrel will compete at the Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival in Cincinnati next weekend.
Kabush Beats Hometown Favorite Van den Ham
After losing out to Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel-POC) in Saturday’s championship contest, Kabush came to the line hungry for a win.
“Coming up just short yesterday is frustrating and I wanted to be a bit more aggressive [today],” Kabush commented after the race. “It’s a tough course to get too aggressive on because it’s so fast and tactical you can waste some energy, so I certainly wanted to be at the front and kind of dictate the pace and split it up a bit more.”
True to plan he sat third wheel as Jeremy Durrin (Neon Velo) took the holeshot. Durrin dabbed in the same place as Rochette but quickly recovered to join the fastest men. A group of six leaders soon formed with Durrin, Kabush, Michael van den Ham (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes), Garrigan, Aaron Schooler (Focus CX Team), and Andrew L’Esperance (Norco Factory Team) from Halifax.
Durrin took charge at the front with Kabush. Mid-way into the race a front flat left Durrin with a long trip to the pit. Vancouver’s Craig Richey (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes) chased. Garrigan, tired from the previous day’s solo ride, got shed by the leaders with L’Esperance.
The second half of the eight lap event was all about the fight for first between Van den Ham and Kabush which ensued as gray clouds rolled in, bringing cold gusty winds. The large raucous crowd chanted “Michael, Michael” when the two reached the sand pits together.
Kabush put in some digs but couldn’t shake Van den Ham. The pair built a gap of almost ten seconds to Schooler who chased alone now ahead of Garrigan and Richey.
Half-way into the final lap Schooler came within a few bike lengths of the two leaders. He caught them a couple of times and then tailed off.
Coming into the finish Kabush tapped his 22 years of racing experience and beat Van den Ham by a single second. Garrigan got fourth after Schooler who made the podium.
“I caught them and then they cranked it up for the sprint and then I just got a little bit gapped,” Schooler stated. “I was basically sprinting with them; I’m just not a good sprinter.”
In the end tactics won the race as Kabush had predicted. “It just came down to positioning the last couple of laps and saving a little bit of energy for the sprint,” Kabush said. “I’m happy. It’s been really exciting racing here and a great weekend, and it’s certainly nice to get a win under my belt for this ‘cross season. Michael [van den Ham] was really strong. I’m probably not going to be popular in Manitoba now, beating the hometown hero. But I want to win as much as Michael does.”
Van den Ham’s result came on top of third place in the national cyclocross contest on Saturday. “One of my goals for this season was to get a top five at nationals and get a podium at a UCI race. So to get both of those and more in the same weekend, it’s fantastic,” the twenty-three year-old said.
“I’m very happy that I managed to be battling with Geoff for the win…With his race experience he might have outsmarted me a little bit, but I have a few years to get that tactical sense.”
Danick Vandale (Team Manitoba) and Christopher Prendergast (Team H&R Block) owned the men’s U23 competition within the elite race. Prendergast sped to the line just ahead of the prior day’s new U23 champion, Vandale, who finished one second behind him.
“It was a great race. We got to fight with each other all day and I think we fed off each other and hammered it and really opened the gap on the guys behind us,” Prendergast said. “I wanted to take him; he’s been beating me all year.”
Willem Boersma Captures Victory in the Men’s Junior Race
Boersma (Cycle-Smart) dropped new national cyclocross champion Oliver Evans (Team Manitoba) and Quinton Disera (CSAJCC p/b Norco & LG) in the sand pits by passing masters racers who then held up Evans and Disera. The Cycle-Smart rider attacked the course aggressively and sustained the lead to win by 24 seconds over Evans. Disera finished third. Boersma is 17 and from Portage la Prairie, Manitoba near Winnipeg.
“I just felt really good today. I wanted to try to do a Mike Garrigan from yesterday, go right from the start and see if I can hold it,” Boersma said, referring to Garrigan’s courageous solo ride that earned him a second elite cyclocross championship on Saturday.