July 29/02 1:18 am - Commonwealth Games: Cross Country Story
Posted by Editoress on 07/29/02
The 6.5 kilometre circuit around the village of Rivington, north of Manchester, was not a very technical circuit, but it was demanding, with a long gravel and pavement climb followed by a sharp descent strewn with boulders and sharp rocks.
"It is a very anaerobic course, that requires lots of fitness", said Redden.
She took the lead towards the end of the first lap (of 4), after Caroline Alexander (Scotland) flatted on the descent through Snakebite Alley while leading by close to a minute.
"I was feeling so strong today, I could have gone 6 laps at the pace I was going. It was a slice in my rear tire, and I was riding tubeless, so there wasn't much I could do. Sue Thomas (England) punctured as well in the same area, and she was going well. But now this race is over and I'm angry, so I'm going to win the road race!"
With her main rival Alexander out of the race, Redden set the pace at the front. For the second and third laps she had the fastest times; 46 seconds ahead of Pryde after 1 lap and 30 seconds after 2 laps. However, Pryde was picking up speed, and Redden's margin dropped from 1:16 to 32 seconds by the start of the final lap. By the top of the climb, the Kiwi rider had Redden in sight, but this is where superior technical skills came to the fore.
Redden went from only 6 seconds ahead to 16 seconds by the finish line, mostly through faster descending.
"Team Canada was keeping me up-to-date with the splits, but in the last lap, Susy and Mary (Grigson, Australia) were closing fast. I knew I could give it everything at the end if I could have 10 seconds at the top of the descent. I knew I could descend faster and stay ahead, as long as she was not on my wheel coming onto the road for the finish."
Pryde knew it came down to the same scenario: "I knew that if I could catch Chrissy, I would have to attack and be in front for the descent to have the slightest chance of being in contention."
However, Pryde was not quite able to close the gap, and Redden claimed the inaugural mountain bike title at the Commonwealth Games. Grigson hung on for third, with Marie-Helene Premont (Canada) fourth and Kiara Bisaro (Canada) fifth after a crash on the second lap.
The men's race was expected to be a race for second, as it was generally conceded that world champion Roland Green was the prohibitive favourite for the gold. Kashi Leuchs (New Zealand) decided to strike early, attacked almost from the gun and having a gap of 15 seconds after the climb. However, he crashed heavily in the descent and was not a factor after that, finishing a distant fourth, nearly 6 minutes back.
Once Leuchs was out of the picture, it was Green and McGrath, looking almost like they were on a hard training ride. Green set the pace, with McGrath content to tuck in behind.
"Roland was so strong today, it was all I could do to stay with him. Riding behind him was like being behind a motorcycle." said McGrath.
Green also had a special weapon - it was his birthday. "Every race I've had on my birthday, I've ended up winning. Maybe there is extra power from that, or something. This being the first time that mountain biking is in the Commonwealth games makes it special, and to get 1-2 with my team mate Seamus feels really great."
In the bronze medal position was the crowd favourite - England's Liam Killian. The 20 year old races for Subaru-Gary Fisher, and is definitely a talent to watch for the future.