Posted by Editoress on 05/21/11
Alexander Gehbauer wins Under 23 Men XC
Our coverage brought to you with the support of Velirium
This year, for the first time, the Under 23 categories of men and women race separately from the Elites in their own World Cup competition. The Under 23 men raced today (Saturday), and the U23 women will race tomorrow. In this second round the top two riders from the first event in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa proved that they are the class of the field by again finishing 1-2, in the reverse order from the first race, Alexander Gehbauer (Austria) dropping Gerhard Kerschbaumer (TX Active Bianchi) in the final kilometre for the win. The two are tied in points, but Gehbauer takes over the leader's jersey by virtue of the more recent victory.
Canada had three riders in the race, with Evan McNeely (Team Canada) the top finisher in 42nd place, followed by Antoine Caron (Team Canada) in 49th, and Francis Morin (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) in 58th. McNeely and Caron are new to the U23 ranks, having just moved up from Junior, and started at the back of the 75 rider field. McNeely rode strongly through the mid-part of the five lap race before fading slightly, while Caron became stronger as the race went on.
"My legs have never hurt that much," commented McNeely after the race. "It was hard. The start was the craziest thing I've ever done. It's certainly not like racing in Canada. It's a whole different experience. The only way to get this experience is to race here. There was an open road section. Two guys hit each other in front of me and both went over the handlebars. I was about three bike lengths back and one of the bikes went into my drive train and messed up my shifting for the last two laps."
Caron was positive about his first U23 race: "It was my first World Cup as a U23, and a good experience. My legs weren't 100%, but I'm pretty happy with how it worked out. Evan and I both started on the last row, and passed nearly half the field. That will give us a better start at the next World Cup race. Now I'm focused on Offenburg and I know I will do much better there."
National Coach Dan Proulx had good things to say about the Caron and McNeely, racing for the National team today: "Both Evan and Antoine were strong today. It was their first experience at this level. They were both in the top-10 at the Junior Worlds last September. In a very short time, they've made the jump in the U23 category, and they've almost made the top half of the field today after starting last on the grid. Their performances indicate that they're still on track for world-class performances in the future."
We also have a post-race video interview with McNeely: