Posted by Editoress on 09/4/10
MSA World Championships - Women's Cross-country
Our coverage of the 2010 World Championships brought to you with the support of Shimano
Many riders had wished for it, and after a week of humid and hot weather conditions, the skies opened up on Mont Ste Anne early Saturday morning before to the Elite Women's race. The course that was previously dusty and loose, became wet and slippery.
That didn't affect Maja Wloszczowska's performance, as the Polish rider claimed her first World Championship title following a three lap solo effort. Irina Kalentieva (RUS) and Willow Koerber (USA) completed the podium. Catharine Pendrel was the top Canadian in fourth, while the crowd favorite Marie-Hélène Premont, completed the event in ninth place.
The heavy showers stopped about an hour before the riders were called to the line to start their five and a half lap race. As expected, Premont received the loudest reception when introduced to the estimated twenty thousand spectators who came to watch the event.
The race started well for the Canadians; Pendrel was in the front group running third behind Italian Eva Lechner and Wloszczowska on the opening start loop. With five laps to go, the British Colombia rider attacked on the climb. The first chase group with Wloszczowska, defending champion Kalentieva, Koerber, Natalie Schneitter (SUI), Lechner and Sabina Spitz (GER) was 13 seconds behind. Anna Szafraniec (Pol) and Premont were another 42 seconds down.
It took Wloszczowska half a lap to bridge up to Pendrel and the two rode the next half lap together, before Wloszczowska attacked the Canadian as she stumbled in the long singletrack portion of the course, quickly gaining a ten second advantage. From there on, no one would be able to challenge the Polish rider's lead.
Behind, the chase group was breaking up, with Koerber leading the Russian and German riders. Elisabeth Osl (AUT) came from behind and overtook Premont. The American kept pressing, slowly reeling in Pendrel, while putting distance on the others behind her. By the beginning of the third lap the crowd favorite, Premont, was sitting in sixth place.
The last two and a half laps saw Koerber, Pendel, Kalentieva and, for a time, Spitz battle for silver. Pendrel had the advantage for a lap, but Koerber caught and passed her with a lap to go, while Kalentieva was never far behind either of them.
With one lap to go, the American got a gap that Pendrel and the Russsian could not close, but Koerber hit the deck in the "Beatrice" rock garden descent, which allowed the other two to overtake her. Kalentieva then attacked at the top of the last climb and gapped Pendrel, who was giving everything she had left to catch her in the following sections. Although momentarily down, Koerber hadn't give hopes of being on the podium yet and was chasing furiously with less than 500 meters to go.
Kalentina was able to maintain a her lead to finish second, while Pendrel slide in a corner, 200 metres from the finish line, opening the door for Koerber who didn't miss her chance to grab third place. Pendrel came in fourth, two seconds behind. Osl came in fifth, while Premont finished the race in ninth place.
Wloszczowska skipped the World Cup finals in order to better prepare for the Championships and it paid off. "I knew that Mont-Sainte-Anne is very technical so we decided to come here and have more rest instead of going to Windham," said Wloszczowska.
Last year's World Champion didn't have any regrets after the event, "I feel very good about my race today. Of course, just one can win and be the World Champion, but I'm very, very happy with second place," said Kalentieva.
The colourful American bronze medalist was more than pleased with her performance, "I just think you need to go into the World Championships wanting to win, but third place is great. Especially since I was fourth until the last three seconds. I'm happy," exclaimed Koerber. When asked if the chase group she was part of was working together to catch Wloszczowska, Koerber replied: "I wasn't working with anyone. I was just like 'I want to get away from them'! "
For Pendrel, the end of the race was like déjà vu, "It was a little bit of Olympic flashback, when Irina and I were riding together on the last lap," said Pendrel. "I kept thinking 'Please not let her take me at the finish'. "
The local favorite, Premont, didn't have the performance she was looking for: "I tried to accelerate to make up time, but when I tried to make up the time I started making technical errors," explained Premont after the race. "I'm still proud of myself, and the training that I put in this week ... today I just couldn't push as hard as I would have liked, because my tire would slip out."
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