CANMORE – With only a few hundred metres to the finish line, tired cyclocross rider Nico Knoll realized her commanding lead had evaporated and she was in for one helluva sprint.
Racing at the ninth annual Drie Zussen Superprestige at the Canmore Nordic Centre, in a weekend (Sept. 24-25) that featured Rundle Mountain Cycle Club (RMCC) and Calgary’s Cyclemeisters co-hosting the inaugural Western Challenge Cyclocross (WCCX), Knoll noticed that after leading most the way in the women’s open, Emma Scott “powered up” and was on her back wheel.
“I looked back and I couldn’t see her, and then a little farther, I heard her right behind me and I was like ‘no way,’” said Knoll, 15.
“I was mostly just excited to do a sprint finish … but I was really scared when she came back because this is the most tired I’ve felt with a cyclocross race so I was a little nervous for that.”
For competitors, a cyclocross course consists of racing laps on pavement, hills, grass, and mountain trails. Obstacles on course are common too, which cause some riders to jump off their bikes and carry it over before getting back on.
Riding around the big curve to the finish, the teen rider from Calgary gave a final burst and edged out Manteo Cycling’s Scott by one second for gold after 17.5 km of racing.
It was Knoll’s second gold after a weekend of cyclocross racing in Canmore – which is poised to see more national level competitions in the future.
“We look forward to actually working on a more permanent course [at the Canmore Nordic Centre] for future years and bringing back the same event next year and the year after,” said the weekend’s co-organizer James Kendal.
“People are always skeptical about the nordic centre because you associate it with rocks and not biking, but once they get in there racing, and this happens every year we’ve been doing events there, they’re like this is a great venue.”
The 2022 WCCX featured a rare opportunity to gain points that go toward the national championships and ranking. The more points earned, the better the starting spot is at the big race. Podium success is slim if a rider starts from the last row of a starting grid.
“Because we haven’t had a national championships in Canada since 2019 there are no points out there, so this was an opportunity for people to get a better starting position,” Kendal said.
Over the weekend, top placing locals include RMCC’s Larix Hallett, finishing fourth in his category at the WCCX, and first place in the Drie Zussen’s novice men.
RMCC's Quinten Macklem finished first in the WCCX U15 male race.
Banff’s Gregory Patychuk won gold at the WCCX’s men’s 65+ masters.
Banff's Finn Borstmayer finished sixth in the Drie Zussen's men's open.
And racing in her first two cyclocross races, Canmore’s Ashton Thomson finished fourth in WCCX’s junior female, and second in sport women in Drie Zussen.
For full results, visit www.zone4.ca.