With just four weeks to go until the downhillers vie for the coveted rainbow jersey, South African Greg Minnaar and Tracy Moseley have scored confidence boosting victories in round six of the UCI World Cup in La Bresse, France.
Michael Hannah (+6.385s) was the best of the Australians in 17th place, followed by world junior champion Troy Brosnan (30th,+7.979s), Joshua Button(37th,+8.642s), Mitchell Delfs (44th, 9.625s) and Shaun O'Connor (76th, 19.527s).
Rain overnight forced riders to change lines for the final and sent many scrambling for spiked tires.
Minnaar had qualified a relatively slow fifth on the previous day, but his final run was almost flawless, clocking 2:09.611 to place himself in the hot seat with four riders to come.
Steve Peat was up next but was disqualified after sliding off course on the wet grass. British rider Gee Atherton looked like causing an upset but slowed in the second half of the race to cross the line 0.459 seconds adrift of Minnaar in second place. Canada’s Steve Smith was unable to match his swift run from qualifying and had to settle for seventh.
Which left only series leader Aaron Gwin, who from the outset, never showed the dominating form he had displayed all season, crossing the line with the third fastest-time of the day.
It might have been Minnaar’s second victory of the season but it wasn’t enough to stop Gwin. The American’s third place was enough to secure the overall men’s 2011 downhill title, with one race still remaining in the series.
In the women’s event, British rider Tracy Moseley took her fourth win of the season to protect her lead in overall standings.
Moseley now leads second place finisher and second-ranked, Floriane Pugin of France by 150 points going into the final round in two weeks' time.
Riders will finalise their preparations for the world championships in Champery (August 31 to September 4) during the final two rounds of the 2011 UCI World Cup:
August 13 to 14, Nove Mesto Na Morave (CZE) – cross country
August 20 to 21, Val di Sole (ITA) – cross country, downhill and four cross... Read More
With the London Olympic Games less than a year away, Czech rider Jaroslav Kulhavy and Canadian Catharine Pendrel have taken out the cross country world titles in Switzerland this morning, whilst Australian Chris Jongewaard made an encouraging return to the world stage.
It was Kulhavy’s first-ever world title, the victory capping off a perfect season for the Czech rider, who had also won the overall World Cup series title two weeks ago. Kulhavy completed the 36.6km course in 1:44:30, comfortably crossing the line 47 seconds ahead of former world champions Nino Schurter (Switzerland) and Julien Absalon (France).
After a tumultuous couple of years and despite an interrupted preparation heading in, Chris Jongewaard’s return to mountain biking at the world championship level was greatly anticipated.
The Adelaide rider paced himself early, and rode a solid and consistent race, but was pulled on the final lap to place 37th overall.
“I didn’t want to blow myself up at the start, which I’ve done at previous world events which throws my whole race out, but just wanted to be controlled and have a smooth race.
At about the midpoint of the race, the skies opened and it started to pour, making the technical course even more difficult.
“That’s mountain biking and you have to adjust to the conditions. I stopped to let pressure out of my tyres and that helped a little bit, but it was still really slippery.”
Today’s race was a confidence booster for Jongewaard, who can now turn his attention to pulling together a complete pre-season ahead of next year’s Olympics.
“This year has been about UCI points and looking ahead. Hopefully I can now have a proper pre-season, train up and get a good base, and come out firing next year.
“I now have confidence in myself and my ability, and know that I can come back.”
In other Australian results, Athens Olympian Sid Taberlay (TAS) also rode a solid race, finishing just behind Jongewaard in 40th position.
Beijing Olympian Dan McConnell (VIC) had a good start but came off his bike mid-race, losing time and position, but fought back through the field to place 55th overall.
Victorian Lachlan Norris, who has just come off a long tour stint on the road, found himself battling, and was pulled with three laps to go, placing 80th overall.
“The elite men rode quite well and they were unlucky to be marginally lapped out,” said MTBA sports director Chris Clarke. “It shows we still have some things to improve and work on for next year heading into the Olympics. We now know exactly where we’re at and I’m looking forward to building towards next year in London.”
Women’s Elite Cross Country
Canada’s Catharine Pendrel won her first world title of her career, holding off a late charge by Maja Wloszczowska of Poland to win by 28 seconds, with Italian rider Eva Lechner claiming bronze. Pendrel set a ferocious pace from the outset, completing the 31.8km course in 1hr 46min 14sec.
Australian champion Katherine O'Shea (VIC) was competitive early, and despite some stomach problems mid-race, got her rhythm back and started to punch out good consistent laps, before being pulled with two laps to go, to place 46th overall.
“It was definitely a tough course, with lots of technical aspects,” O’Shea said. “The intensity was hot from the start and the pace was really fast.”
Australians in action tonight
The action in Champery concludes tonight with the final of the downhill events, and will feature Australia’s two reigning world champions, Sam Hill (elite men) and Troy Brosnan (junior men).
In the timed seeding sessions on Friday, Brosnan (+2.3s) and Australian champion Connor Fearon (+6.10s) posted the third and fourth fastest times respectively, with French rider Faustin Figaret clocking 3:39.04 to enter tonight’s final as the fastest qualifier.
In the elite men, Aaron Gwin from the United States once again showed he was a step above the rest, tearing down the course in 3:28.06. Queensland’s Michael Hannah (15th, +15.86s) was the fastest Australian in qualifying, followed by Hill (16th, +16.79s) who has been battling a shoulder injury all year.
The juniors will kick off at 7:30pm AEST and the men at 11pm AEST and will be streamed live online via SBS Cycling Central or on freecaster.tv.
Jack Mullay will also compete in the elite men 26in trials final at 9:50pm AEST.
Image credit: Gary Perkin
For further information (media only), please contact MTBA Media:
Michelle Cook – 0430 177 668 or email@example.com
2011 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships
(all times AEST)
Sunday 4th SeptemberUnder 19 downhill final men: 7.30pm
Troy Brosnan (SA), Connor Fearon (SA), David McMillan (ACT), Phillip Piazza (ACT), Benjamin Power (QLD), Joseph Vejvoda (NSW), Brendon Yrttiaho (QLD)
Elite downhill final men: 11pm
Sam Hill (WA), Michael Hannah (QLD), Shaun O'Connor (NSW), Rhys Willemse (QLD)
Elite men 26in Trials: 9.50pm
Jack Mullay (QLD)... Read More
2010 world junior downhill champion Troy Brosnan has successfully defended his world title overnight at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Switzerland, capping of an incredible weekend for Australian sport on the world stage.
Despite the muddy, slippery and treacherous conditions due to heavy rain fall in Champery, the 18-year-old Adelaide-based rider was by far a step above the rest, stopping the clock in 3:51.50.
The only junior to break four minutes, Brosnan was more than 12 seconds faster than silver medallist David Trummer (4:03.69) from Austria, whilst Guillaume Cauvin (4:15.94) of France earned bronze.
Impressively, Brosnan’s time would have also placed him in the silver medal position in the elite men’s competition – a very encouraging sign for the young talent and Australian mountain biking when he moves up into the senior ranks next year.
Whilst the majority of riders struggled to stay on two wheels during their run due to the treacherous conditions, Brosnan, who was the third last rider to come down the mountain, showed his class with a clean run to the finish.
"It was raining all morning but I wanted to attack it like it was dry. I didn't have any mistakes, and I won. I'm so happy. I can't believe it,” said Brosnan, who retains the famous rainbow jersey.
"I had a good run today and tried to stay smooth. The other juniors crashed, but I kept it on my two wheels and came across the line in front.
"This season has been good. Getting the junior world championship capped off a good season.
"I couldn't ask for more. Going into next season with the big boys is going to be fun."
Australian head downhill coach Jared Rando couldn’t be more impressed with the performance of his young charge.
“That’s a huge achievement,” Rando said. “Troy’s performance was absolutely incredible, it’s not normal racing for a junior. It’s really special, and he’s going to be one of the top riders in the future.”
Three other Australian junior riders also placed in the top 20. Despite crashing up to the four times during the race, Australian champion Connor Fearon (+36.28) still managed to place 14th. Phil Piazza (+38.49) and David McMillan (+40.55) placed 16th and 18th respectively. Just outside the top 20 was Ben Power (+50.63) in 23rd position, followed by Joe Vejvoda (+1:08) in 34th place.
“The conditions for the race are something we very rarely experience in Australia, just with the rain and the style of track, it was quite challenging for all of the riders and for a lot of them it was the first time they’d ever raced in something like this,” continued Rando.
“All the guys bar Troy had multiple crashes in their race run, and only approximately a quarter of the field made it down without crashing in both the elite and junior races.”
In the elite men’s downhill competition, defending champion Sam Hill, who has just recently returned to racing after a shoulder injury, finished a respectable seventh in 3:57.89.
“Sam Hill had an incredible performance,” continued Rando. “He’d spent very little time on the bike, and to comeback and to get the result he did on a difficult track is a very good performance. He’s probably riding at 60% of his potential.”
Three years after he won the junior downhill world championship, Danny Hart of Great Britain raced to his first elite title, clocking 3:41.98. Damien Spagnolo (3:53.68) of France and Sam Blenkinsop (3:54.98) from New Zealand earned the silver and bronze medals.
It was a tough day at the office for the three other Australian elite downhillers, with Michael Hannah (39th, +44.07), Rhys Willemse (41st, +44.60) and Shaun O'Connor (43rd, +45.89) all battling in the conditions.
Newspaper photo editors: action and podium images to be supplied this afternoon.
For further information (media only), please contact MTBA Media:
Michelle Cook – 0430 177 668 or firstname.lastname@example.org... Read More