The United States on Friday secured its first medal at the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships
in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Richard Rude Jr. (Redding, Conn./Yeti-Fox Factory Racing) earned the top spot on the podium after besting the juniors men’s downhill field. In addition to the downhill, the under-23 men’s and women’s cross-country competitions were contested during Friday’s racing.
Rude, who finished second in the event last year, topped the 50-rider juniors men's downhill field after traversing the 3.021-kilometer course in 4:06.640. In fact, the Americans placed all six riders within the top 25, including three in the top 15 and two in the top six of the competition.
Luca Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./Specialized Gravity DH) finished sixth, 12.985 seconds behind Rude. Jay Fesperman (Davidson, N.C./Yeti Fox National Team) placed 12th, 16.822 seconds behind Rude while Luca Cometti (San Diego, Calif./Nema Nukeproof) was 20th, 19.547 seconds behind the winner. Walker Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./Specialized Gravity USA) and Cole Picchiottino (Murrieta, Calif./Trek-Southridge Racing) placed 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Shaw was 20.131 seconds behind Rude and Picchiottino finished 21.639 seconds back.
Loris Vergier (FRA), who recorded the best time among the juniors men in the seeding runs, placed second, finishing 5.727 seconds behind Rude. Michael Jones (GBR), who registered the third-best time on Thursday, earned the bronze medal, completing his run 7.403 seconds slower than Rude.
The course tested riders with technical sections like a cork screw, berms, jumps and a descending stair step-like rock garden as well as pedal and power sections.
Howard Grotts' (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) 12th-place finish topped the Americans' effort in the U23 men's cross-country race. Grotts finished 4:14 behind the winner of the contest, Gerhard Kerschbaumer (ITA), who completed the six-lap, 28.2-kilometer competition in 1:28:55. Julian Schelb (GER) finished 58 seconds behind Kerschbaumer to win the silver medal while Michiel Van Der Heijden (NED) won the bronze medal.
The 19-year-old Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah/Cannondale Factory Racing) finished within the top-20, placing 18th, 5:26 behind Kerschbaumer while Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Trek Factory Racing) was 26th, 6:52 behind the winner. Kerry Werner (Banner Elk, N.C./BMC Mountain Development Team) was riding in 29th place, but flatted with one lap remaining in the race. He finished the race in 42nd place, 12:16 back.
After finishing his first lap in 46th place, Grotts surged through the field on his ensuing four laps. Grotts passed 12 riders on his second lap, and then 11 competitors on his third lap to move into 23rd midway through the contest. He passed six riders on the fourth circuit and four on his penultimate lap to move into 13th place before finishing in 12th place.
Swenson also gradually moved up through the field after completing his first lap in 25th position. He moved up 12 spots into 13th place after the fourth lap before finishing the race in 18th place.
Nineteen-year-old Shayna Powless (Roseville, Calif./BMX Mountain Bike Development Team) finished in 25th place in the five-lap, 23.5-kilometer U23 women's cross-country race on Friday. Jolanda Neff (SUI) topped the 37-rider field with a time of 1:25:44, 16:33 ahead of Powless. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (FRA) finished 2:26 behind Neff to secure the silver medal while Yana Belomoyna (UKR) placed third, finishing 3:45 behind the winner. Kendall Ryan (Ventura, Calif./Team Jeep South Africa) placed 29th, one lap behind the winner.
The racing in Pietermaritzburg continues until Sept. 1. Saturday’s competition features the elite men's and women's cross-country races and the seeding runs for the elite downhill.
2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Aug. 26-Sept. 1
Juniors Men Downhill
1. Richard Rude Jr. (Redding, Conn./Yeti-Fox Factory Racing) 4:06.640
2. Loris Vergier (FRA) +5.727
3. Michael Jones (GBR) +7.403
6. Luca Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./Specialized Gravity DH) +12.985
12. Jay Fesperman (Davidson, N.C./Yeti Fox National Team) +16.822
20. Luca Cometti (San Diego, Calif./Nema Nukeproof) +19.547
22. Walker Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./Specialized Gravity USA) +20.131
23. Cole Picchiottino (Murrieta, Calif./Trek-Southridge Racing) +21.639
U23 Men's Cross-Country
1. Gerhard Kerschbaumer (ITA) 1:28:55
2. Julian Schelb (GER) +0:58
3. Michiel Van Der Heijden (NED) +1:24
12. Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) +4:14
18. Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah/Cannondale Factory Racing) +5:26
26. Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Trek Factory Racing) +6:52
42. Kerry Werner (Banner Elk, N.C./BMC Mountain Development Team) +12:16
U23 Women's Cross-country
1. Jolanda Neff (SUI) 1:25:44
2. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (FRA) +2:26
3. Yana Belomoyna (UKR) +3:45
25. Shayna Powless (Roseville, Calif./BMX Mountain Bike Development Team) +16:33
29. Kendall Ryan (Ventura, Calif./Team Jeep South Africa) -1LAP