and enjoy the benefits
MTBA Team Manager, John Armstrong reports from the closing 2012 UCI World Championships.
The first time the Eliminator has been included in the World Championships meant that the streets of Saalfelden would be brimming with excited spectators – and the crowd were not to be disappointed.
Each country was able to provide up to six competitors in the men’s and the women’s category with Australia providing the maximum number in the men’s. Each competitor was required to undertake two laps of the street circuit that included a very narrow alley way and a 10 step stairway. With Paul van der Ploeg, Dan McConnell, Chris Jongewaard, Jack Haig, Michael Crosbie and Ben Bradley representing in the Men and Rowena Fry in the women, the team were keen to impress.
Only Paul, Chris, Dan and Rowena were able to qualify in the top 32 riders. Diesel Dan McConnell must have installed a turbo overnight because, despite an exhaustive effort in the XCO the day before, Dan came from last position on the second lap of his heat to just gain second position and go through to the quarter finals. It proved to be a great effort, but the following round saw Dan unable to back up and allowed him to finish an enormous year with his head held high.
Rowena got a good start in her heat but was just out-powered on the line to finish 3rd and out of the rounds for the quarterfinal.
Chris Jongewaard who had steeled himself for this event was less fortunate and finished 3rd in his heat, ruling him out early. It was Van der Ploeg who had podiumed throughout the year in XCE World Cup events that Australia pinned their hopes on. And he didn’t disappoint!
Dominating the first heat from the front, Paul easily qualified for the quarter finals and proceeded to do the same in the quarter finals. Taking the inside stating position each time, Van der Ploeg had too much power at the start for his competitors and simply controlled the race from the start.
With a very short turnaround time between the quarter final and the semi final, the big Australian was hurting as he sought to reach the final. Not getting his favoured inside start gate, Paul was forced to the back from the whistle. Holding his line throughout the two laps of the circuit, Paul looked to overtake when the opportunity arose, but the fatigue induced by backing up so quickly was showing. Despite an enormous effort on the line, Paul was relegated to third position by the width of his tyre and forced to contest the small final (5th – 8th).
Again, Paul was unable to get the start gate that he was after and was forced into fourth wheel early. Exhaustion took its toll with Paul performing exceptionally well to take out 8th position.
(Image of Paul Van Der Ploeg, 2011 WC, Courtesy of Gary Flipper)