How some Canadian cross racers celebrate Christmas when they are in Europe | Popgen Tech


There’s no place like home… unless you’re doing the big ‘cross races in Europe. For some Canadians, they will once again spend the holidays in Europe to spend the CX competitions while preparing for the world championships.

Maghalie Rochette and Sidney McGill have been in Europe for a few weeks, having skipped the cross nats in favor of high level racing. McGill recently had a great ride at the Dublin stop of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup, finishing eighth. Both she and Rochette drive to the next stop in Gavere, Belgium on Boxing Day. As the race falls on the 26th, Christmas Day is a little different for them. In fact, if anything, it’s just a normal day before the race.

For Rochette, being away for the holidays is nothing new. “To be honest, after being away for about 5-6 years, you almost forget what Christmas is really like! Christmas becomes something else,” explains the former national champion. “But we are trying to get together with the other North Americans who live here in Sittard, the Netherlands, and who are also away from home. Last year we made Christmas cookies with Raylyn Nuss and Chris McGovern and played board games.”

That’s not to say that she and husband David Gagnon aren’t getting into the festive spirit. For the first time, they both decided to check out a Christmas market in the Netherlands. Christmas Day will of course be a little more subdued as she will be racing the next day.

“On the day of Christmas it will be the day before the World Cup tournament in Gavere. I think we’ll probably try to go for a fun drive, blast some Christmas music, and maybe invite some friends over for dinner,” adds Rochette. “I can put some Christmas lights on my helmet again for racing, and install some Christmas themed bar tape on my bike!”

Rochette tries to avoid social media the week of the holiday, so she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on the usual holiday trappings.

“Otherwise you quickly get FOMO to see how everyone is with their families and enjoying delicious meals and fun Christmas activities. You stay in your own world and try to enjoy what you do have here,” she says.

The Holmgren family will be in Europe from December 21 to March. Their Christmas celebration will be very focused on the Second World Cup football tournament in Belgium. “Our holiday celebration will involve an inspection of Gavere WC and preparation for the race,” says Rob Holmgren, father of superstar juniors Ava and Bella. “Athletes will be busy preparing food, doing laundry, fixing numbers. mechanics will wash and tune bikes, glue tubes. No better way to spend the holidays!”

As for Christmas dinner, it will be the standard pre-race meal, but Rob does say he will be going to the local bakery to get treats. This is the second year they have been abroad for the holidays.

Elite men: Tyler Clark wins the first elite men’s Canadian cyclocross title since 2019

One rider who will be home for Christmas this year is former multiple national champion Michael van den Ham. After losing his crown in Victoria to Tyler Clark in November, MvdH is home for an extended training block as he prepares for Europe. “After nationals I’ll have a big break and be around for Christmas for the first time in years,” he says. “After a bit of rest and then a bit of sharpening up, I’ll be ready for the world with the aim of finally breaking into that top 20.”


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