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Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel-POC) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna) won the elite races on Saturday at the Shimano Canadian Cyclocross Championships in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Pendrel took the lead in the first lap of the women’s contest, followed closely by Mical Dyck. But a crash and a mechanical took Dyck out of the running, leaving Pendrel alone to defend her 2013 title. Luna teammate Maghalie Rochette finished second with Sandra Walter (Liv Canada) third.
It was the cap to an exceptional season for Pendrel, who as a cross-country racer won the Canadian, Commonwealth Games and world championship titles.
“It’s really nice to be able to do it two years in a row on totally different courses. It capped off a really amazing year for me,” said Pendrel.
“The season was really great for me. I couldn’t be happier with how it went for sure. There is not much more I could have done this season. I have a couple more seasons ahead of me, so I’ll do as much as I can with those.”
In the elite men Garrigan likewise took a solid early lead, holding an advantage of some 15 seconds throughout most of the race.
Defending champion Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) and first-year elite rider Michel Van den Ham (Trek Red Truck-Mosaic Homes) chased valiantly, but ultimately ran out of real estate.
Kabush attacked Van den Ham with about 2km to go, but had to settle for second, three seconds back. Van den Ham hung on for third.
Garrigan said he had anticipated a “very tight finish,” and he was prepared to battle all the way to the line.
“I thought they would need to work pretty hard to bring it back,” he said. “I saved enough in the tank in case it came down to a sprint. Luckily for me, it didn’t come down to that.”
Garrigan, who also won the Canadian title in 2007, this season decided to step back from coaching with the Ontario Cycling Association to focus on competition, and spent some time racing in the United States to build his form.
“This result solidifies my decision to take a step back from coaching for a year, and do a bit of training, to re-evaluate what my life goals are moving forward,” he said. “It means that maybe I made the right decision, at least for a year.”