The newest addition to the North American Cyclocross Trophy Series, the GNC Toronto International Cyclo-Cross, is both the mid-point of the series and the first time the NACT has raced in Canada. Organizers have put together two great courses for both "mountain goats and speedsters". Racers will look for any advantages - flat and fast, or hilly and hard - to shuffle the NACT series standings and win a piece of the $24,500 in prize money.
Natasha Elliott (Louis Garneau) enters the third round of the NACT series in second place but is heading back north for home field advantage. Elliott went two for two in Gloucester, and the Louis Garneau racer also took home double wins at Toronto in 2008. Challenging Elliott is Pepper Harlton (Juventus Cycling Club) at her first NACT race of the year. Harlton and Elliott recently finished second and third to newly-crowned Canadian national champion Alison Sydor and Toronto will be a rematch.
Like Elliott, the Cannondale boys will be happy to return to Toronto. Last year, Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers switched steps atop the podium on Saturday and Sunday. Look for a repeat of 2008, as both Powers and Johnson look to move closer to the top spot of the leader's boards with strong performances in Toronto. With current leader Jonathon Page (Planet Bike) and second place Christian Heule racing in Europe, the top two steps are up for grabs. After finishing thirteenth at Star Crossed, Cannondale teammate Jamey Driscoll has consistently placed in the top five and leads both Johnson and Powers in the standings in third place overall. Bissell's Andy Jacques-Maynes is another challenger to Cannondale contingent. Jacques-Maynes finished third and fourth in 2008 and is sandwiched between Johnson and Powers in the overall standings.
Bottom Line: Which race will be the best race of the year?
I was hoping to be in TO and dust it up, but that will have to wait until next year. I imagine that if you are not heading out to get your much coveted UCI points you will be heading out for what might have been the best Cross race of 2008. This year, however, the competition is much stiffer with the Belgian boys and girls putting on the most memorable cross race that I can… remember. Gray is promising a Cross-tastic race next weekend, and we still have Provincials to tackle. Life is good. Our Southern bothers and sisters are crafty folk who do not readily back down from a challenge however... especially when they are Crossed. I look forward to living vicariously through the pictures, videos and race reports that are sure to follow.