After two years in Toronto, the Canadian National Championships head to the West Coast for a weekend of racing in British Columbia. With the National Championships on Saturday and a C2 race on Sunday, the weekend promises to be an exciting one as Canada’s best riders converge on South Surrey Athletic Park. There are half a dozen riders who should contend for the title, but three men are trying to break a tie for most titles won. Chris Sheppard, Geoff Kabush and Mike Garrigan all have two titles and would love to pick up a third. In an interesting sub-plot Sheppard, Kabush and Craig Richey (my darkhorse pick) are all BC natives. Can one of the boys defend their home turf? Here’s what I think will happen:
Canadian National Championships (CN)
Geoff Kabush – Kabush had a great mountain bike season that has translated into a solid cross season. Despite not racing week in and week out, when Kabush does race, he’s a podium threat. I expect him to take the win on Saturday and become a three-time national champion.
Chris Sheppard – Sheppard’s bid to win three straight titles is a possibility, but I think Kabush is a bit too strong. Sheppard has become Canada’s top crosser over the past few years and should be a shoo in for World’s. The battle between Kabush and Sheppard should be the highlight of the race.
Aaron Schooler – it almost pains me to put Schooler on the podium. Schooler has finished third for the past four years. I’d almost rather pick him to finish off the podium, but five-straight podium finishes would be impressive. Is he capable of winning? I don’t think so, but I have been wrong before.
BC Grand Prix of Cross (C2)
Geoff Kabush – I would expect whoever wins on Saturday to ride the wave to a win on Sunday. Therefore, I pick Kabush to win.
Chris Sheppard – as I mentioned, Sheppard has become Canada’s top cross racer over the past few years. Look for him to land on the podium on Sunday as well.
Mike Garrigan – a two-time national champion, Garrigan spends most of his season racing in New England and the mid-Atlantic region. Always a podium threat, I expect him to step up on the podium on Sunday.