Midland, Ontario caught its first case of CX Fever on Sunday.
Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing CX) is the most popular cyclocrosser in North America, but at the Pan-American Championships in Midland, Canada’s Maghalie Rochette (CX Fever / Specialized) was the toast of the town.
Even with the home-country support, a Pan-American Championship would not come easy for the Quebec native. Noble entered the race as one of the hottest cyclocrossers in the world with seven-straight wins and had it circled on her calendar as one of the two most important races of the first three months of the season.
Out on the course, the race played out as many expected it would, with Noble, Rochette and Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) going off the front after one lap.
Noble and Rochette dropped Keough at the end of Lap 3, and with two to go, it was another Canada v. United States battle after Michael van den Ham and Curtis White went to the line in the Elite Men’s race.
In a way, the Pan-Ams race was the mirror image of Saturday’s Silver Goose Cyclocross affair. On Saturday Rochette dropped her chain and fell out of contention trying to make a dangerous pass.
On Sunday, Noble tried to make a tough pass and suffered a similar fate.
Shortly before the second sand section at the end of Lap 4 of 5, Noble tried to pass Rochette but ended up going over her handlebar. The crash gave Rochette a nine-second advantage at the bell.
The CX Fever rider stayed perfect in the last lap to take home Canada’s first-ever Elite Pan-American Championship.
“Honestly, it was so special to race here and have a tight battle in front of the Canadians,” Rochette said. “I think this year they really caught the fever. I could hear my name out there and the energy was awesome.”
A Start as Many Expected
In Saturday’s Silver Goose Cyclocross race, Ellen Noble started fast and the pressure she put on her challengers forced Rochette into a costly mistake.
Noble took the holeshot again on Sunday, but this time, Rochette and Keough were able to keep her in check through the first half of the first lap. The trio of riders stayed in contact, and after one lap, it was Noble, Rochette and Keough at the front, as many prognosticators would have predicted heading into the race.
In the second lap and early in the third, Noble was content to let the other two women set the pace. Keough took up lead duties during that time.
In the latter half of Lap 3 of 5, Noble and Rochette took over driving the pace, and their efforts proved too much for Keough.
With two to go, it was the latest Rochette v. Noble battle in a season where the two have squared off off the front several times.
Deja Vu All Over Again
Noble was the aggressor from the gun on Saturday, but on Sunday, Rochette showed just how much she wanted to win a Pan-Ams jersey in front of the home-country fans.
Rochette kept the heat on early in Lap 4 and forced Noble to try to keep her wheel.
Rochette carried a small lead up and over the double stairs in into the back half of the track.
Noble, however, would not go easy. Noble closed Rochette’s gap and drew even with the Canadian with just over a lap to go.
In Saturday’s race, Rochette tried to make a dangerous pass early in the first lap, and after a dropped chain, the decision found her chasing for the rest of the race. In the Pan-Ams race, Noble made a similar ill-fated decision.
Shortly before the second sand section, Noble tried to pass Rochette with a bold move. Unfortunately, it did not work out, and she found herself going over the handlebar to the ground. Rochette seized the opportunity and went full gas heading past Pit 2 and onto the start/finish straight.
“I got a gap with two laps to go, and she closed it,” Rochette said. “When she closed it, she tried to pass me and she crashed. She tried to pass me on the inside, and I think she hit the poll. She crashed, and I just kept going and got a gap there. It’s unfortunate that that’s how it happened, but at the same time, it’s racing and I think we both wanted it equally.”
With one lap left, she had a 9-second advantage on Noble.
In the final lap, Rochette showed she was ready to leave Saturday’s mistakes on Saturday. She rode a perfect last lap.
When Rochette’s white Ten Speed Hero kit popped out onto the finishing straight, the impressive Canadian crowd let out a loud roar for their home-country hero.
The win was the first-ever Canadian Elite Pan-American Championship. That it happened at the first Canadian Pan-Ams was poetic.
“I mostly just didn’t make any mistakes compared to yesterday,” she said about the win. “Yesterday I created a disaster for myself time after time, but today I was more conservative and didn’t make mistakes.”
Noble crossed shortly behind Rochette. Although she has been on a roll thus far this season, this race—in addition to World Cup Waterloo—was one of two she had circled on her calendar for the first half of the 2018/19 cyclocross season.
Keough finished a strong third behind the two leaders. Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Cycles/Maxxis p/b Stan’s/DNA Cycling) finished fourth for the third-straight year at Pan-Ams. Canadian Jenn Jackson (AWI Racing p/b the Crank and Sprocket) rounded out the wide-angle podium.
Interviews and race results are below.
2018 Pan Am Masters Cyclocross Championships Results: Elite Women
|1||3||ROCHETTE, Maghalie||CX FEVER P/B SPECIALIZED||CAN||42:29:00|
|2||2||NOBLE, Ellen||TREK FACTORY RACING CX||USA||42:43:00||0:14|
|4||6||MCFADDEN, Courtenay||PIVOT MAXXIS PB STANS - DNA CYCLING||USA||43:40:00||1:11|
|5||20||JACKSON, Jenn||AWI RACING P/B THE CRANK AND SPROCKET||CAN||43:55:00||1:26|
|6||5||RUNNELS, Samantha||SQUID SQUAD||USA||43:59:00||1:30|
|7||25||PENDREL, Catharine||CLIF PRO TEAM||CAN||44:09:00||1:40|
|8||4||FAHRINGER, Rebecca||KONA MAXXIS SHIMANO||USA||44:15:00||1:46|
|9||18||WALTER, Sandra||LIV CYCLING CANADA||CAN||44:21:00||1:52|
|10||8||ZAVETA, Erica||GARNEAU-EASTON P/B TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||USA||45:18:00||2:49|
|11||15||STURM, Sarah||SPECIALIZED TEN SPEED HERO||USA||46:15:00||3:46|
|12||13||WERNER, Emily||AMY D FOUNDATION||USA||46:18:00||3:49|
|13||16||RATHBUN, Laurel||DONNELLY CYCLING||USA||46:20:00||3:51|
|14||9||MALIK, Jennifer||CARPE DIEM RACING||USA||46:25:00||3:56|
|15||10||NUSS, Raylyn||GATEWAY HARLEY-DAVIDSON TREK||USA||46:29:00||4:00|
|16||14||ELLIOTT, Natasha||VAN DESSEL P/B HYPERTHREADS||CAN||47:11:00||4:42|
|17||32||HOLMGREN, Lisa||HARDWOOD NEXT WAVE CYCLING TEAM||CAN||47:37:00||5:08|
|18||17||COOGAN CISEK, Corey||AMY D FOUNDATION||USA||47:54:00||5:25|
|19||19||SCHAPPERT, Anna||DARK RED RACING||CAN||48:08:00||5:39|
|21||22||PICIGA, Natascha||GIANT TORONTO PB LIV||CAN||48:40:00||6:11|
|22||11||TAPIAS, Natalie||JAM FUND / NCC||USA||48:51:00||6:22|
|25||28||HEISE, Alana||TERRASCAPE RACING||CAN||57:22:00||14:53|
|26||12||KELLY, Siobhan||BLACK DOG RACING||CAN||40:59:00||-1 Lap|
|27||24||SMITH, Carolyn||WATERLOO CYCLING CLUB||CAN||32:29:00||-2 Laps|
|28||30||MESSIER, Jill||WEST OF QUEBEC WHEELERS||CAN||32:48:00||-2 Laps|
|29||29||SIFTON, Evelyn||INDEPENDENT||CAN||33:19:00||-2 Laps|
|DNS||26||RICHARDSON, Stacey||AMY D. FOUNDATION||USA||DNS|
|DNS||7||NAUMAN, Amanda||SDG - MUSCLE MONSTER||USA||DNS|