Posted by Editoress on 06/17/08
MTB World Championships Val di Sole, Italy
Coverage brought to you with the assistance of Velirium
France, a perennial runner up in the Team Relay, finally captured the world title to open the 2008 Mountain Bike world Championships in Val di Sole, Italy. Defending champions Switzerland, in a dramatic finish, caught host Italy less than 500 metres from the finish line to take silver. Canada had a very strong sixth place from a team that had only one rider who had previously competed in the event.
The Team Relay requires both a strong team and a well planned rider order. France and the other top-5 finishers all started with their elite male rider, to open up a gap which they could then hopefully defend. For France, this was Jean-Christophe Peraud, who attacked on the first climb and rode away from Florian Vogel (Switzerland) and Marco Fontana (Italy) to put France in the lead position it would never relinquish. Peraud, who is obviously in good form, recorded the only sub-20 minute time for the opening lap (which included a start loop) at 19:55. Canada began with Canada Cup #1 winner Raphael Gagne, a U23 rider who recorded a solid 11th place on the first lap against the elite men.
After Peraud, the French sent out Arnaud Jouffroy, their Junior rider (as did most of the top teams). Jouffroy was the fastest rider on his lap, moving France one minute and 23 seconds ahead of Slovakia, who had slipped into second ahead of Switzerland and Italy. Canada sent Catharine Pendrel after Gagne, and the World Cup podium rider finished 10th on her lap, but also recorded the fastest women's time of the day - 22:26.
On the third lap, the top teams all went with their elite woman, which for France was Laurence Leboucher, who is having a very strong season in World Cup racing. Leboucher's time was only 11th fastest, but it was enough to keep the French in first, 16 seconds in front of the Ukraine, with Italy in third, 58 seconds down after Eva Lechner's strong ride. The Ukraine had sent out Mykhaylo Batsutsa, who recorded the fastest Junior time of the day, and will certainly be someone to watch in the Junior cross-country on Thursday. Similarly, Great Britain sent out Liam Killeen, who set the fastest lap of the race, at 19:32. Switzerland had dropped to eighth in the standings after a relatively poor showing from Petra Henzi, leaving them 2:31 behind France. Canada followed up on the third lap with Derek Zandstra, who moved Canada up to sixth, after recording the fourth fastest time for his group.
The last lap was setting up for a show down of U23 riders: France had Alexis Vuillermoz, Italy had Cristian Cominelli and Switzerland had Nino Schurter, the defending world champion and U23 World Cup leader. But Schurter had two and a half minutes to make up, and it proved to be too much. He had the second fastest time (20:12) of the lap, behind American Adam Craig (19:49), who was sporting a hockey-style mullet for speed. Schurter came roaring up through the field from eighth, catching the Italian Cominelli within sight of the finish as he sprinted by him. Canadian Junior rider Evan Guthrie managed to keep Canada in that position for the finish after riding part of the circuit with Schurter.
For the Canadian team of Raphael Gagne, Catharine Pendrel, Derek Zandstra and Evan Guthrie, it was a confidence building performance. All had solid rides, and had the chance to turn in a real race lap on the circuit.
Gagne: "Had a pretty good start, on the second line. I made it into the top-10 for the first climb, it was a good experience to ride against all the elites. I fell a couple of times in the mud, but nothing serious. I felt good on the climbs, so that's positive for my race on Friday."
Pendrel: "It was super hard out there, so I just dug as deep as I could and I was able to reel in all the women who were in front of me and even one of the guys. It was definitely slick out there, and I even had to stick out my foot a couple of times to keep upright. But I felt good, and it was super exciting to do the Relay."
Zandstra: "I passed one of the women right away and by the time I was on the climb I had caught a couple of others. I was just rushing to be in front of them before the singletrack. It was really slick out there, with really thick mud and you just had to plow your way through it.
Guthrie: "Off the bat caught by a couple of guys, and then caught some others during the lap. It was really muddy out there, really tough, and a couple of the climbs I had to run up. It was a good lap, I did the best I could. I started riding with [Nino Schurter] at the top of the first climb, and got in front of him on the downhill ... I actually got a little gap on him, which I'm really stoked about. I tried to ride with him on the second climb, but he just rode away, he's such a strong climber."
|1. France (Jean-Christophe Peraud/Arnaud Jouffroy/Laurence Leboucher/Alexis Vuillermoz)||1:24:45|
|2. Switzerland (Florian Vogel/Matthias Rupp/Petra Henzi/Nino Schurter)||at 2:22.66|
|3. Italy (Marco Aurelio Fontana/Gerhard Kerschbaumer/Eva Lechner/Cristian Cominelli )||2:23.62|
|4. Poland (Marcin Karczynski/Marek Konwa/Maja Wloszczowska/Dariusz Batek)||2:48.45|
|5. Czech Republic (Jaroslav Kulhavy/Jakub Magnusek/Katerina Nash/Jan Skarnitzl)||3:25.57|
|6. Canada (Raphael Gagne/Catherine Pendrel/Derek Zandstra/Evan Guthrie )||3:25.75|
|7. Netherlands (Bas Peters/Erik Groen/Laura Turpijn/Jelmer Jubbega )||5:26.30|
|8. USA (Georgia Gould/John Bennett/Sam Jurekovic/Adam Craig)||5:27.52|
|9. Sweden (Emil Lindgren/Alexandra Engen/Olof Jonsson/Alexander Wetterhall )||5:27.59|
|10. Ukraine (Sergiy Rysenko/Andriy Gumenyuk/Mykhaylo Batsutsa/Nataliya Krompets )||5:38.59|
|11. Slovakia (Peter Sagan/Milan Barenyi/Janka Stevkova/Martin Skopek )||6:11.53|
|12. Australia (Lachlan Norris/Daniel Mcconnell/Charlton Durie/Dellys Starr )||7:10.10|
|13. Germany (Heiko Gutmann/Fabian Strecker/Ivonne Kraft/Jochen Kass)||8:13.43|
|14. Great Britain (Ian Bibby/Alex Paton/Liam Killeen/Fiona Macdermid )||10:34.05|
|15. Slovenia (Matej Lovse/Blaz Znidarsic/Luka Mezgec/Tanja Zakelj )||11:53.64|
|16. Japan (Ken Onodera/Keisuke Goda/Rie Katayama/Kohei Yamamoto )||12:28.58|
|17. New Zealand (Kashi Leuchs/Rosara Joseph/Joshua Barley/George Bennett )||14:01.67|
|18. Israel (Shlomi Haimy/Amotz Nehoray/Inbar Ronen/Rotem Ishai )||15:53.86|
|19. Chili (Javier Eduardo Puschel/Mario Rodriguez Bravo/Ricardo Hazbun Velasquez/Francisca Campos Salas)||16:44.91|
|DNF. Spain (Ruben Ruzafa Cueto/Umbert Almenara Verges/Anna Villar Argente/David Lozano Riba )|
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