Thursday’s cross country action of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships
saw a fascinating pair of events unfold as Lukas Baum of Germany and Alessandra Keller of Switzerland reigned victorious in the testing Junior Men’s and Women’s clashes respectively.
“This is my third title this year so I guess I have done something right this year and it is just an incredible feeling for me right now,” said Baum. "I prepared the whole year for this race and built my form up to this point so I’m so happy to have won. Coming into the race I knew I was strong but once I got to the front it was hard out there on my own so I really had to work hard. Before I got there though, on the second lap, Raphael Gay crashed in front of me and I rode into him and crashed too. When I got going again I saw my handle bars were twisted so I had to be careful through the technical sections and then push as hard as I could in other areas.”
Despite Baum having secured victory relatively early on in the encounter the race behind him was a cat and mouse affair right up until the final five hundred meters with Canada’s Peter Disera ultimately claiming second. Top seed, Italy’s Gioele Bertolini, made it two medals in two days as he
added the junior men’s bronze to his team relay gold her claimed late
on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m very happy with the two medals.
Yesterday’s medal was also very important for me because it was
yesterday’s first medal gave me the strength for the second one today!”
Alessandra Keller powered to a hard-fought victory in the Junior women’s cross-country event having put together a perfectly progressive performance over the four lap affair.
Keller, who was down in fifth position after the first half a lap, steadily worked her way through the field until she found herself all alone out in front halfway through the clash and the young Swiss competitor didn’t look back.
“This is crazy for me. I am the world champion in my first junior year!” said an overwhelmed Keller. “There were too many riders at the start, it was like traffic jam and I fell off my bike trying to pass a rider. When I got back on and continued I was down in fifth place. It then took me a long time to get past the athlete in front of me but I always believed in myself and that I could do it. You only win when you cross the finish line and when I was leading I continued to believe I could win the race!”
Despite Keller’s dominance there were many a battle unfolding behind her which kept the large crowd on the edge of their seats throughout. The race for second place was eventually claimed by Italy’s Emilie Collomb with Germany’s Sarah Bauer claiming third.
The race got underway under a cloud of drama as European Champion and one of the pre-race favourites to take the title, Malene Degn from Denmark, was forced out of the clash after just a few hundred meters after she received a shunt from behind just meters from the start line which broke her gear cable, ending her title aspirations in the process.
Friday’s cross-country program sees the women’s and men’s under 23 races take place. Temps, today in the 80's, are forecast to drop 10 degrees for Friday's racing.
Click here for full results.
Click here for full results.
OFFICIAL RELEASE FROM USA CYCLING...
The 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships continued Thursday in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, with the juniors cross-country races and the seeding runs of the juniors downhill on a hot and dry day.
Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Whole Athlete-Specialized) paced the American's effort in the juniors women's cross-country race, placing sixth. Alessandra Keller (SUI) topped the 39-rider field, completing her four laps in 1:18.24. Courtney, who won the juniors women's world cup race in Mont-Sainte-Anne on Aug. 10, stopped the clock 3:41 behind Keller while Kaylee Blevins (Durango, Colo./Durango Devo) was 7:58 behind the winner. Emilie Collomb (ITA) earned the silver medal while Sarah Bauer (GER) took home the bronze medal.
Courtney was unable to improve on her starting position. She started the race in sixth place, slipped briefly into seventh place after the second lap before regaining sixth place for the final two laps of the four-lap, 18.8-kilometer contest. Blevins managed to improve two positions through the course of the race. After finishing her first lap in 18th place, Blevins improved to 17th after the second lap. She stayed in 17th place following her third circuit before passing Serena Tasca (ITA) on the final lap to finish in 16th place.
Sean Bennett (El Cerrito, Calif./Whole Athlete-Specialized) used a tremendous effort to move up through the pack to top the Americans' effort in the juniors men's race by placing 28th, 8:46 behind the winner Lukas Baum (GER). Baum finished the five-lap, 23.5-kilometer contest in 1:20:06. Neilson Powless (Roseville, Calif./Folsom Bike-VW-Raley's), who contributed to America placing seventh in the cross-country team relay on Wednesday, finished 49 seconds behind Bennett in 32nd place. Luke Vrouwenvelder (Chapel Hill, N.C./Cycle Youth) was the third American to finish the race, placing 37th, 10:39 behind Baum. Peter Disera (CAN) took the silver medal, finishing 42 seconds behind Baum, but 20 seconds ahead of Gioele Bertolini (ITA), who rode away with the bronze medal.
Bennett completed his first lap in 49th place, but used the subsequent laps to gradually improve his position. Bennett moved into 44th place after the second circuit, 37th place after three laps before completing the five-lap contest in 28th place. Powless finished his first turn in 38th place and moved as high as 13th with one lap remaining, but slipped back into 32nd place in the end. Vrouwenvelder sat in 24th place after one lap before slipping into 37th place at the race's conclusion.
1. Alessandra Keller (SUI) 1:18:24
2. Emilie Collomb (ITA) +00:46
3. Sarah Bauer (GER) +01:01
6. Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Whole Athlete-Specialized) +03:41
16. Kaylee Blevins (Durango, Colo./Durango Devo) +07:58
1. Lukas Baum (GER) 1:20:06
2. Peter Disera (CAN) +00:42
3. Gioele Bertolini (ITA) +01:02
28. Sean Bennett (El Cerrito, Calif./Whole Athlete-Specialized) +08:46
32. Neilson Powless (Roseville, Calif./Folsom Bike-VW-Raley's) +09:35
37. Luke Vrouwenvelder (Chapel Hill, N.C./Cycle Youth) +10:39
Juniors Men’s Downhill-Qualifying
1. Loris Vergier (FRA) 4:13.873
2. Richard Rude Jr. (Redding, Conn./Yeti-Fox Factory Racing) +0.754
3. Michael Jones (GBR) +4.145
13. Cole Picchiottino (Murrieta, Calif./Trek-Southridge Racing) +11.091
15. Luca Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./Specialized Gravity DH) +12.992
17. Luca Cometti (San Diego, Calif./Nema Nukeproof) +13.938
18. Jay Fesperman (Davidson, N.C./Yeti Fox National Team) +14.022
40. Walker Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./Specialized Gravity USA) +26.920