Events

Dyck earns second Canadian cyclocross national championship

The Naked Factory Racing rider follows up her 2012 win with a victory in Winnipeg.

Mical Dyck of Naked Factory Racing took her second elite women’s Canadian cyclocross title in Winnipeg over the weekend.

Dyck, who previously won the Shimano Canadian Cyclocross Championships p/b Volvo in 2012, accelerated out of a corner past Luna Pro Team’s Maghalie Rochette and pried open a gap shortly into lap 1. She held onto the lead as Sandra Walter (Liv Cycling Canada) established and maintained a strong grip on second place through the finish. Despite a recent cold, Winnipeg’s Leah Kirchmann (Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies) moved steadily through the field to claim third.

The morning sun dried out dampness from the previous day’s rain, and Dyck described the course as grippier than last year’s which had been dusty, slippery, and dry. This year’s circuit resembled the 2014 design, though some additions made the circuit harder. Riders found more off-camber corners in the grass section that tripped up many riders last year, as well as a longer two-part run-up and a new out-and-back trip over wood planks on an old railroad bridge.

Dyck didn’t get the muddy course she had hoped for, but still flexed her technical skills for a smooth ride. She also relied on her explosive power right away to recover from a bad start.

“I slipped the pedal a couple of times so I wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Dyck explained. “I have pretty good pop. So once I can get the pedal I can accelerate really fast.”

She snuck through a gap and landed on Rochette’s wheel in second position as the field entered the grassy, off-camber section of the 3.2km course. Behind Dyck were Walter, Natasha Elliott (Red Truck-Garneau-Easton Cyclocross Team), and Ashley Barson (Rise Racing-Cyclepath Woodbridge).

Some corners later in the opening lap, Dyck put her power to work again. She shot away from Rochette and once she realized she’d gained separation, she put her head down to tackle the sand pits and stay away. Walter also leap-frogged over the Luna Pro Rider who seemed to be on an off day.

After leaving the damp sand where earlier races had drawn pretty firm lines, the riders climbed stone stairs and then dropped down to the river. The next challenge on course, a set of stairs on one side of a fly-over which followed an already steep, tough run-up, earned praise from Dyck.

“The changes they did [to the course] were super fun,”Dyck said. “The stair run-up after the run-up was so hard. You got [to the top] and you were like, ‘OK, I’ve got five feet to get on my bike before I drop in.’ It was super, super fun.”

While Dyck and Walter both extended their gaps as the racing continued into the final laps, Elliott moved into the third position on course as Rochette struggled and Winnipeg’s Anna Schappert (Dark Red Racing) and Kirchmann gained ground. Then Schappert lost her snap as Kirchmann caught Rochette and next reached Elliott.

Kirchmann drew energy from the hometown crowd packed around the sand pits.

“I heard so many people out there chanting my name, so that was really motivating,” Kirchmann said. “That made me want to get on the podium that much more and helped me ride a bit stronger.”

When Elliott and Kirchmann came to the line in a battle for third, the Optum rider out-sprinted Elliott to claim the last spot on the podium.

“I really didn’t know how it was going to play out. This is my first ’cross race of the year,” Kirchmann said after the finish. “My plan was just to go out there and see what I could do. I definitely lost some ground off the start. But I used my strengths in the flat fast sections and my power from the road to make up those spots. I was excited when it came down to a sprint for third.”

For Dyck, who’s had a slow start to this ’cross season, the win was a satisfying turn around from last year’s result of ninth.

“It was my own fault; I crashed out and ended up mangling my chain and had to run,” the new champion said about her 2014 race. “I really didn’t want to run 20 minutes this year, so I decided to keep it upright.”

Dyck quit a lucrative geology job to focus on building a cyclocross career. The Winnipeg victory validated her choice.

“It feels really good,” Dyck said. “When you go through some tough times and you doubt what you’re doing, it feels really good to have a good race and reaffirm that it’s OK that you’re doing this and you’re following your dreams and having fun.”

Dyck’s new sponsor, Naked Bicycles, is a frame maker. Unlike most professional ’crossers, Dyck races on a custom steel frame. “It’s a little heavier than carbon fiber but the ride is amazing. For ride quality over the rough stuff, it just tracks so well.”

Dyck plans to tackle the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships when the party descends on Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives. In December, she’s headed to Belgium for Christmas week cyclocross.

Ruby West dominates U23 women’s title race

Ruby West (Centurion Next Wave), the 16 year-old from Dundas, Ontario who’s been racing well in the women’s elite field in U.S. UCI races, stormed away from her rivals from practically the first pedal stroke. The U23 pack started right after the women’s elite field, and the soon-to-be inaugural Canadian U23 women’s champion worked her way through a number of elite athletes on her way to the victory.

“I was first off the pavement and I kind of just went from there and didn’t look back,” West stated. “I just tried to maintain the gap I had and work through some of the elites to keep me motivated. It’s cool to have them out there and be able to race with them.”

West demolished her runner-up U23 colleague by a margin of three minutes.

“I thought it would be a lot closer of a race. But it was pretty cool. I was thrilled with it and couldn’t be happier,” West said.

Dana Gilligan (Cycle Solutions Angry Johnny’s CC-Norco LG) came in second. Maggie Coles-Lyster Local Ride Racing rounded out the podium for third.