Listen, the 2023 world championships were historic for Canada with Bella and Ava Holmgren taking the first ever medals (and rainbow jersey) for our country. Going 1-2 in the biggest race of the year for ‘cross is pretty spectacular, no matter which nation you call home. That also meant going into 2024, the bar is even higher. In fact, that I even mentioned Canada didn’t get any medals at the CX worlds is pretty wild. That there is even an expectation for big results in a discipline that has been dominated historically by Europeans is pretty cool.
Canada sent 23 riders to the ‘cross worlds, and four of the riders were marked as favourites to do potentially something special. And to be honest, although there was no hardware on the necks of these cyclists, it was a pretty great few days at the races.
Racing kicked on Friday with the team relay event. Among the 10 competing squads, Canada took fourth place, narrowly missing a podium finish. France won in a thrilling sprint, edging out the British team for the gold medal, while Belgium secured a place on the podium as well. Canada’s relay squad had juniors Rafaelle Carrier and Jayden McMullen, under-23 riders Ian Ackert, Ava and Isabella Holmgren, and elite male Tyler Clark. The team would finish half a minute behind bronze, and given some of the names of the riders ahead that medalled, it’s a more than respectable result.
National junior women’s champion Carrier was one of the riders to watch after some great results in Europe. She had to overcome some problems on the first lap which saw her in 23rd, well off the pace. But she didn’t give up and would make up time, ultimately finishing 16th. It probably wasn’t the result she was hoping for, but the good news, at 16, she had another year of racing junior ahead of her, so she has another shot in 12 months.
The return of Rochette
How great was it to see Maghalie Rochette back in the thick of it at the world championships? At one point she was as high as 6th, and it was awesome to see her mixing it up with the best again at the world championships. The last lap saw four riders pass her as fatigue set in, but Rochette did not give up.
Helene Clauzel looked like she was heading to tenth, but the Canadian flew by her in the final metres, throwing her bike and stealing the spot from her.
Ian Ackert has been impressive as a junior, with an 8th at the 2022 worlds (after a first lap which saw him in DFL) and an…