Posted by Editor on 09/13/01
Canada has won the Team Relay event at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Vail, Colorado, holding off a last lap surge by Australia and Spain. The Canadian team won in a time of one hour, 35 minutes and 13 seconds, 26 seconds ahead of Australia. Spain was third, 50 seconds behind Canada.
The Team Relay consists of national teams of 4 riders from 4 different categories. Canada's team was made up by Chrissy Redden (Campbellville, Ontario), Adam Coates (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Roland Green (Victoria, BC) and Ryder Hesjedal (Victoria, BC).
Canada took a strategy of sending off their fastest riders first to establish a gap and force other nations to chase. Hesjedal ended his lap of the 11.5 kilometre race course with a 37 second lead over the United States. Green extended this lead to two minutes and 13 seconds over Germany by the end his his lap, and Coates, a 17 year old junior rider attending his first World Championships, took the gap to four minutes and four seconds by the time he handed off to Redden for the final lap.
Redden was being chased by two of the top pro men in the world - Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain) and Cadel Evans (Australia) - who began the lap five and six minutes back respectively. Evans managed to close the gap to less than half a minute by the end, but the day belonged to Canada.
- We reported earlier that Caroline Alexander of Great Britain had been disqualified while in second for an illegal wheel change. The actual offence was incurred by the previous UK rider - Philip Spencer. His drivetrain broke down (rear cogset) and he took a wheel from a team mate on the course. Alexander had already started her lap when the officials found out and pulled her out of the race.
- Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland) was vocal with his displeasure after the race concerning the refusal by World Cup title winner Barbara Blatter to participate in the Team Relay. He believes Switzerland would have been on the podium if Blatter had been on the Swiss squad, and said that she was being "elitist" in her refusal to ride.
"It was tight on the last lap. We were all just sitting and waiting to see where Chrissy was. But Chrissy really threw down and did a tremendous job to bring it home. Our strategy was to go out hard because we felt that it would put the other teams on the defensive and they might make mistakes. This shows that overall Canada has the top riders in each category."
"We did what everyone knew we could do. After the mechanical probleams at last year's championships, and the bronze the year before, we were ready. I went first because I am comfortable with a fast start and Roland and I established a good gap with our 1-2 punch."
"It feels great, this is the greatest thing ever. I went third, against the women on most of the other teams, so I was able to gain some ground. I wasn't feeling super on the first 10 minutes of my ride, but then I settled down and started to pick it up."
"I started the lap with 5 minutes on (Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain) and Cadel Evans (Australia)), and I knew that I needed that much of a lead. i knew that they were bearing down on me, but I just tried to be really steady and smooth. I heard from (my coach) over the ear piece that I had about 1:16 before the last descent, but it wasn't until the final 100 metres when I looked over my shoulder and couldn't see anybody, that I knew we had it.. The whole team did really well. We had a strategy, but every second counted because of the riders I had to go against."
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