Some of the best athletes in the country are competing in the National Lazer Cyclo-cross Championships this weekend, vying to compete in Europe next month.
“Everything you’re not supposed to do on a bicycle, you’re doing it today,” said Jon Watkin, race director.
Some 280 athletes from across the country and around the world are competing for a chance at the cyclocross competition in Europe in December.
Stretching 3.5 kilometres around Layritz Park in Saanich, athletes cycled through harsh, slippery terrains. Wet conditions created muddy hills and stairs where athletes had to pick up their bikes to get through.
Story continues below.
“It’s a huge culture event in Europe and Canada is becoming known as a cycling powerhouse,” said Watkin.
Several age groups of athletes ranging from U17 to Masters (65+) competed for ranking points as well.
“Cycling Canada is using this as a good litmus test to see who’s really performing so that when they go to Europe to race, they’re being set up to succeed,” said Watkin. “We’re going to be seeing a contingent of Canadian riders both in the boys and girls age group going to Europe this Christmas.”
Canadian athlete Isabella Holmgren, known for winning the UCI women’s world junior championship in the Netherlands earlier this year, defended her title Saturday, winning the U23 competition.
She is now preparing for her next feat in Europe.
“I’ll be going down to Spain for a training camp first then further north in Belgium and Netherlands for Cyclo-cross racing afterwards,” said Holmgren.
Each of the races take around 45 minutes to finish and requires intense training similar to that of a triathlon.
“You got to have a lot of punchy horsepower. You also got to have really good bike handling skills because the terrain is constantly changing and it’s power to weight ratio,” said Watkins.
On Sunday, international athletes will take part in the TREK Bear Crossing Grand Prix UCI.