Posted by Editoress on 09/3/15
Italy and Denmark took the first Cross-country titles of the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships on Thursday, at Vallnord, Andorra. Martina Berta won the Junior women's title, while Simon Andreassen successfully defended his Junior men's title. Top Canadian finishers on the day were Raphael Auclair in ninth for the Junior men and Laurie Arseneault 18th in Junior women.
Heavy rain overnight left the track muddy and slippery for the women as they started their four lap race. Evie Richards (Great Britain) took the lead on the first climb, but Berta was not far behind and caught the British rider late in the first lap as she struggled with the nearly 2000 metre altitude.
Berta then steadily rode away from the rest of the field to take the rainbow jersey, an exceptional accomplishment for a first year Junior. Richards, after struggling mid-race and almost getting caught by defending champion Nicole Koller (Switzerland), recovered in the final lap and a half to hold on for the silver medal, with Koller taking bronze.
Arseneault started a little conservatively given the altitude, but began steadily picking off riders as the race went on. The result is significant improvement from last year's 29th. Mackenzie Myatt was 29th, Emily Handford 35th and Soren Meeuwisse did not finish.
The men began in pouring rain, which backed off for a short while before returning even stronger for the final lap and a half. Andreassen was the clear favourite to take the men's title, after showing incredible speed in the Team Relay the day before, when Denmark took bronze. The Danish rider took the lead on the first lap of the five lap race, initially joined by Maximilian Brandl (Germany) and Egan Bernal (Colombia), before dropping his rivals late on the that lap.
From that point on Andreassen rode on his own a comfortable 45 seconds ahead of Brandl and Bernal, who were battling for the silver medal. Bernal held onto second until the final lap, when he began to fade as Brandl moved up, eventually dropping the Colombian to take the silver medal, while Bernal held on for bronze.
Raphael Auclair had a very strong start among the leaders and moved into fifth by lap two. However, he could not hold the pace and, combined with a couple of crashes, he slid back to finish ninth. In other Canadian results, Rhys Verner was 35th, Quinton Disera 42nd, and Sean Fincham 47th.
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