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Cyclocross

Bessette and Legga tops at Canadian ‘cross nationals

There were a lot of new faces on the podium for the 2002 Canadian National Cyclo-cross Championships, in St-Augustin, Quebec. Lyne Bessette(CyclocrossWorld) and Roddi Lega (Alberta) won the Canadian titles, in the face of constant winds that pushed the windchill to a numbing -15C. The 2002 Nationals were held on the grounds of Campus Notre-Dame-de-Foy. St-Augustin is on the outskirts of Quebec City, home to Louis Garneau Inc., the cycle clothing manufacturer who was the title sponsor of this year's national championships. While the terrain is mostly flat, the organizers were able to put

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By Robert Jones, VeloNews Correspondent

Photo: Rob Jones

There were a lot of new faces on the podium for the 2002 Canadian National Cyclo-cross Championships, in St-Augustin, Quebec. Lyne Bessette(CyclocrossWorld) and Roddi Lega (Alberta) won the Canadian titles, in the face of constant winds that pushed the windchill to a numbing -15C.

The 2002 Nationals were held on the grounds of Campus Notre-Dame-de-Foy. St-Augustin is on the outskirts of Quebec City, home to Louis Garneau Inc., the cycle clothing manufacturer who was the title sponsor of this year’s national championships. While the terrain is mostly flat, the organizers were able to put together a twisty, technical circuit that incorporated some of the bumps and tabletops of the BMX track on site. Despite there being no major over the shoulder run-up, most riders had praise for the course, including American cyclo-cross pro Tim Johnson, who was up to support his fiancé – Bessette.

“I rode a few laps with Lyne, and it’s a fun course that will require some power.”

The women’s race was expected to be a showdown between Bessette (attending her first Canadian ‘cross nationals, although a regular winner on the US northeastern ‘cross circuit) and Marie-Helene Premont (Oryx), the mountain bike pro. Not to be discounted was former champion Shauna Gilles-Smith (Gearworks-SRP), who competes against Bessette in the New England races.

However, it turned out to be Bessette all the way, as she went from the Gun in the 40 minute race. For the first couple of laps Gilles-Smith was able to hold the gap to a manageable 20-30 seconds, but Bessette put the hammer down after that and rolled away to a 1:04 victory, without appearing to be out of breath at the end. Gilles-Smith hung on for second, and Premont took third, another minute back, after shaking a persistent Samantha Nicholson (Alberta) in the final few laps.

“Since the (Road) Worlds I’ve been training and racing ‘cross. Now I’ll take 2 weeks vacation and then I start to prepare for the ‘Cross Worlds. This was a fun course, especially with the BMX section – not too technical, but lots of variations. Not having a run-up probably helped me. It was cold, but the ground was very good – I didn’t have to change my bike once.”

Photo: Rob Jones

The men’s race was a real crap shoot, with perennial champion PeterWedge (Kona) off in Chile, representing Canada at the Pan Am Mountain Bike Championships. It has been so long since anyone else has won, that no one knew quite what to expect. Mountain biker Lega took advantage of the uncertainty by breaking away early.

“My plan, if I had it in me, was to get a gap from the start and try and treat it like a mountain bike race, and avoid the strategy and tactics of a road race. In the past, when it has been a pack, it seems to not be in my favor. If I can suffer out in front from the start then it works better for me.”

While Lega was out in front, suffering to his heart’s content, a chase formed behind, with Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain), Robin Baillie(Cycledelia), Guillaume Desy (Durand Sport), Greg Reain (Gears Racing) and Todd Bowden (CVC-Pig Iron). Reain and Bowden were dropped, butHestler, Baillie and Desy did their best to reel in the leader.

“He gapped it right at the beginning” said Baillie. “A little group ofus thought we might get him, but he was just too good in the corners – he was just amazing in the corners. It was a hard course to get a rhythm going, because you were always setting up for the next corner. I tried going harder after him once, and crashed.”

Hestler concurred: “I got off to a slow start – both for the ‘crosss season and this race. I injured myself two weeks ago, riding in the woods, so I missed our provincials, and I didn’t have as much practice as I wanted. But Roddi was going well, making time on us in every corner – maybe 2-3 seconds at a time. When I got going in the last couple of laps I think that I pulled back a bit, but it was too little, too late.”

Hestler did drop his two companions with a couple of laps to go in the60-minute race, but then started to fade in the final lap, managing to hold on for second by 4 seconds over Baillie, with Desy a further 10 seconds in arrears.

Dustin MacBurnie, out of Truro, Nova Scotia, was the top Espoir, followed by Shawn Bunnin (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan).

Results

Elite Men
1. Roddi Legga (AB) United Cycle, 1:00:31
2. Andreas Hestler (BC) Rocky Mountain, 1:01:14
3. Robin Baillie (SK) Cycledelia, 1:01:18
4. Guillaume Desy (QC) Durant Sport, 1:01:28
5. Alex Cloutier (QC) Trek VW, 1:03:00
6. Aaron Fillion (ON) OBC
7. Todd Bowden (USA) CVC Pig Iron
8. Greg Reain (ON) Gears racing

Espoir
1. Dustin MacBurnie (NS), 1:03:40
2. Shawn Bunnin (SK) Cycledelia, 1:04:52
3. Matt Hardley (NB) Atlantic Cycling Centre, 1:05:12
4. Mark Foster (NS) Cyclesmith, 1:05:54
5. Kevin Noiles (NS) Cyclesmith, 1:08:27

Elite Women
1. Lyne Bessette (QC) Cyclocross World, 40:25
2. Shauna Gillies-Smith (AB) Gearworks/SRP, 41:39
3. Marie-Helene Premont (QC) ORYX, 42:45
4. Samantha Nicholson (AB) Team Alberta, 43:54
5. Sarah Robins (SK) 48:33

Junior Men
1. Martin Lazarski (ON) Gears Racing, 46:11
2. Chris Meier (NB) Atlantic Cycling Centre, 46:11
3. Jean-Luc Pilote (QC) Espoir de Laval, 47:12
4. Jean Francois Vennes (QC) Bicycles Record, 47:35
5. Francois Sztuke (QC) Dynamiks, 47:45

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