12 riders battled through rain and mud and up the legendary final hill of Paris to Ancaster to claim victory in the inaugural Canadian Gravel Championships presented by Argon 18, held on April 30, 2023, in Hamilton, ON.
Championship contenders joined the 3,000 participants of Paris to Ancaster, Canada’s longest standing gravel event, in tackling a 108.9km course winding through fields and hills, featuring an impressive 874m of climbing.
First across the finish line for the Canadian Gravel Championships was Evan Russell (Saint Piran) in the elite men’s category, clocking an impressive time of 3:01:43 – a mere five seconds behind the overall Paris to Ancaster winner, Curtis White (USA).
“It’s pretty unreal, to be honest, standing up there with the Canadian jersey,” said Russell, who cracked the top 20 in the 2021 and 2022 Canadian Road Championships. “I knew with 5K to go, that’s where I would want to attack. I caught Curtis before the main climb and it was just us to the finish. It gets chaotic, you’re cold and muddy, and then you come over [the final climb] and you’re Canadian national champ. It’s a great feeling.”
Claiming the maple leaf jersey for the elite women was Devon Clarke (The Cyclery), stopping the clock at 3:23:48 in her second year of Paris to Ancaster competition.
Both born in 2007, Ashlin Barry (EF Education-ONTO) and Rafaelle Carrier (CVM Sigma Assurance) had strong U19/Junior showings to capture gold in their respective men’s and women’s categories.
John Vanderveen (Riverway Dental Racing) led the Masters pack, finishing less than 10 minutes off of Russell’s time to earn the men’s 35-44 gold. The women’s 35-44 top spot went to Jodi Wendland (The Cyclery). For Masters 44-54, it was Chris Pollett (London Centennial Wheelers) who brought home the title of Champion, while Amy Moore (Collingwood Collective) stood on top of the women’s podium. Bruce Bird (Wheels of Bloor) earned the gold medal for men’s 55-64 and his counterpart, Andrea Moritz, topped the women’s podium. Rounding out the inaugural class of gravel gold medallists was James Laird (Limestone City Cycling), who competed in the Masters 65+ men’s category, and Anna Tykoliz (St. Catharines Cycling) for the women’s.
“I’m so pleased I’m going to be in the history books [as the first Canadian Gravel Champion (Masters 65+ F)]. That is really amazing,” said Tykoliz. “I have never had that much mud in my whole life. It was epic. Thank you so much to the volunteers, they were so kind, the course was marked beautifully and I had a lot of fun.”
The full list of results can be found here. Next up on the Canadian Championships calendar is the Canadian Road Championships (Elite/Junior/Para) to be held from June 23-26 in Edmonton, AB. The full calendar of national events can be found on the Cycling Canada website.