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By Rob Jones, Special to VeloNews.com
There were both new and familiar faces on the podium at Canada’s national cyclo-cross championships in Vancouver on Sunday. Peter Wedge (Kona Factory) took his sixth national title in the men’s race, while Wendy Simms (Steed Cycles-Frontrunners) won the women’s competition in only her fifth-ever start in a cyclo-cross race.
Mountain bike national champion Max Plaxton (Gears Racing) won the junior men’s competition, while Kris Sneddon (Kona) took the Under-23 men’s title.
Wedge dominated the men’s race, immediately breaking away from the field. After one lap he was 15 seconds ahead of a chase group containing his team mate Geoff Kabush, defending champion Roddi Lega (Alberta), Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain), Carter Hovey (Bianchi), Andrew Pinfold (Symmetrics).
Lega dropped off the pace first, followed by Pinfold after chain problems, and then finally Hestler went for the same reason in the last two laps. Meanwhile, Wedge was pulling away steadily – first 30 seconds, then 45, and then a minute plus. As he coasted comfortably in for the title, Kabush attacked Hovey at the start of the final lap to give Kona a 1-2 victory.
“It wasn’t a very technical course”, explained Wedge. “I didn’t want to take any chances, because you never know how things are going to develop – you could crash or get a mechanical. I figured that I would ride from the front, and then I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone but myself.”
Thirty one year old Simms had a much tougher battle, having to chase back to the leaders after running into mechanical problems early in the race.
Once she rejoined the lead group of Samantha Nicholson (Alberta), Kelly Jones and Trish Sinclair (Gears Racing), she bided her time until the final lap, when she attacked. Nicholson was the only rider to respond, and the two sprinted for the title, with Simms edging out her rival by a few centimeters. Jones took third, just ahead of Sinclair.
Simms – “I lost my chain on one of the downhills, and then it got stuck and I had to stop. I lost so much energy catching up, that I didn’t know if I was going to be able to hang on for a while. But everyone was trying to get the other riders to take the lead, so it slowed down a bit. I could feel her (Nicholson) behind me in the final sprint, and all I could do was put my head down and go as fast as I could.”Elite Men
1. Peter Wedge, Fredericton, NB (Kona)
2. Geoff Kabush, Victoria BC (Kona)
3. Carter Hovey, Victoria BC
4. Andreas Hestler, Vancouver, BC (Rocky Mountain-Crystal Decisions)
5. Andrew Pinfold, Toronto, ONElite Women
1. Wendy Simms, Nanaimo, BC (Steed Cycles-Frontrunners)
2. Samantha Nicolson, Calgary, AB (Bianchi/The Bike Shop)
3. Kelly Jones, Vancouver, BC
4. Trish Sinclair, Victoria BC (Gears Racing)
5. Lisa Licis, Alberta (Hardcore CC)Espoir
1. Kris Sneddon, Victoria BC (Kona)
2. Eric Batty, Toronto, ON (Bay Cycle)
3. Shawn Bunnin, Saskatoon, SK (Kona)Junior Men
1. Max Plaxton, Tofino, BC (Gears Racing)
2. Tyler Holtzman, Ontario (St Catharines CC)
3. Kevin Lega, Alberta (United Cycle)
4. Shaun Adamston, Alberta (United Cycle)
5.Trevor Bant, BC (Dizzy Cycles) Cadet