2017 MTB World Cham­pi­onships

SCHURTER TAKES HIS­TORIC VIC­TORY

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by Jack Cracker

Canada’s Holden Jones from Squamish, B.C. de­buted with a gutsy bronze medal in the ju­nior men’s XCO race at the MTB World Cham­pi­onships in Cairns, Aus­tralia on Sept. 5-10. Fel­low Canuck

Emily Batty of Brook­lin, Ont. brought home a strong sev­enth in the Elite women’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Swiss star Nino Schurter made his­tory de­fend­ing his ti­tle in the Elite men’s XCO race for the per­fect sea­son. Schurter also won all six World Cup races to claim the 2017 UCI MTB World Cup XCO ti­tle. Switzer­land dom­i­nated the Cham­pi­onships, as Jolanda Neff took the Elite women’s ti­tle, while Sina Frei cap­tured the Un­der-23 women’s gold medal.

ELITE WOMEN

Batty and Catharine Pen­drel were part of the ini­tial lead group in the 27.4km Elite women’s race spear­headed by Neff and An­nie

Last of Great Bri­tain. Neff at­tacked on third lap of six, es­tab­lish­ing a 20+-sec­ond gap that she ex­tended to more than two min­utes at the fin­ish, claim­ing her first Elite ti­tle.

Last took the sil­ver, with 2015 cham­pion Pauline Fer­rand-Prévot of France re­cov­er­ing from a flat to win the bronze. Batty set­tled into sev­enth, which she held to the fin­ish, although a crash on the fi­nal de­scent led to a sprint fin­ish with Co­rina Gan­ten­bein of Switzer­land.

Ha­ley Smith con­tin­ued her strong sea­son since join­ing the Elite ranks, with a steady climb from the mid-30s to fin­ish 16th for her best-ever in­ter­na­tional re­sult. Pen­drel was 27th, San­dra Wal­ter was 30th, Cindy Mon­tam­bault 37th and Re­becca Beau­mont 41st.

“I don’t know what to think,” ad­mit­ted Smith. “I’ve never been

in­side the top-20 be­fore, and to do a top20… I know it’s not a podium re­sult, but it’s ab­so­lutely huge for me, so I don’t know how to process it. But I’m re­ally happy! I had a crappy start loop and ac­tu­ally crashed in the first cou­ple of laps, but I just stayed fo­cused and moved through peo­ple. I couldn’t have hoped for a sea­son this good; this is a big jump for me, and I’m very happy to end the year on this note.”

ELITE MEN

In the Elite men’s 31.7km race, Schurter and 2012 Olympic cham­pion Jaroslav Kul­havy of the Czech Repub­lic took an early lead, but were soon joined by Thomas Litscher of Switzer­land and Brazil’s Hen­rique Avancini.

Avancini was dropped and a cat-and­mouse bat­tle raged un­til the fi­nal half-lap of the seven-lap race, when Schurter at­tacked and gapped Kul­havy, tak­ing the ul­ti­mate prize for a per­fect sea­son. Kul­havy se­cured the sil­ver and Litscher the bronze.

“It was a tough race, as Jaroslav was su­per-strong, but Thomas was there to help. It’s been an in­cred­i­ble year, and it all came to­gether with such an amaz­ing team around me,” com­mented Schurter.

Léan­dre Bouchard was Canada’s top per­former in the Elite men’s race, fin­ish­ing 24th. An­drew L’Esper­ance was 44th, Derek Zand­stra 45th, Evan McNeely 46th and Raphael Gagné 52nd.

“I was pretty lucky on the start,” said Bouchard. “I had some space to move up, and the start was re­ally im­por­tant. So I was able to move up quickly and then pro­tect my place. I’m re­ally happy with this race be­cause I had al­most no er­rors; it was the most dusty race of my life!

“You are just eat­ing dust by the first lap. I did my first top-20 in the World Cup here last year, so I knew I could do well, and so I was look­ing for a top-25. It’s good to end the sea­son like this.”

U23 MEN

Marc-An­dré Fortier of Vic­to­ri­av­ille, Que. fin­ished a strong 12th and Quin­ton Dis­era of Horse­shoe Val­ley, Ont. was 17th for two Cana­di­ans in the top-20 in the U23 men’s 25.8km cross-coun­try race.

A group of 14 rid­ers had split from the main field by the end of the start loop, as the rid­ers headed out for six laps of the 4.3km cir­cuit through the rain­for­est at Smith­field Park. The group in­cluded Quin­ton Dis­era, with Fortier eight sec­onds be­hind, along with Peter Dis­era.

Quin­ton Dis­era, a first-year Un­der-23 rider, held onto a top-12 place through­out the first four laps be­fore fad­ing slightly in the fi­nal two laps. Fortier worked his way up from a start po­si­tion on the sixth row to top-20 by the end of the start loop and into the top-15 by the end of the third lap. For the fi­nal two laps, he was in a three-way bat­tle for 10th.

“It was amaz­ing; I didn’t have any prob­lems all race,” said Fortier. “I started 48th, and by the end of the start loop, I had moved up a lot; an amaz­ing day for me. Usu­ally I pre­fer cour­ses with shorter punchy climbs like Mont-Ste-Anne, and here it was a long climb. So it was not the per­fect course for me, but to­day it was per­fect! It’s a good way to end the sea­son, so for the win­ter, I will have lots of mo­ti­va­tion to train.”

Peter Dis­era was in the top-15 as the race en­tered the third lap, but suf­fered a flat, drop­ping him back to the mid-20s, where he fin­ished in 24th place.

Cana­dian Un­der-23 cham­pion Sean Fin­cham of Squamish, B.C., who started near the back of the field, moved up steadily in the first half of the race to fin­ish 33rd. Raphael Au­clair of La Haute-Saint-Charles, Que. had moved up to the mid-30s be­fore a twisted chain forced him into the pits on the sec­ond lap, and he fin­ished 60th.

U23 WOMEN

In the Un­der-23 women’s 23.1 km race, Soren Meeuwisse moved up steadily to fin­ish as the top Cana­dian in 16th place. Anne-Julie Trem­blay suf­fered me­chan­i­cal prob­lems on the start loop and fin­ished 23rd.

Frei, the Euro­pean cham­pion, was in charge from the start, with Anna Tauber

(NED) join­ing her, but she suf­fered a

me­chan­i­cal. The U.S.A.’s Kate Court­ney re­cov­ered from an early crash to take the sil­ver, while Alessan­dra Keller gave Switzer­land an­other medal, claim­ing the bronze.

JU­NIOR MEN

At his de­but Worlds, B.C.’s Jones was in a hot bat­tle for the sil­ver in the 23.1km ju­nior men’s XCO race. Jones was neck and neck with Joel Roth (SUI) for much of the lat­ter part of the com­pe­ti­tion un­til the fi­nal half-lap, when Roth was able to gain a gap. Jones claimed a gutsy bronze for his stel­lar ride, bring­ing home Canada’s first and only medal from the 2017 MTB Worlds.

Cameron Wright (AUS) took the win af­ter jump­ing to com­fort­able lead in the race that con­sisted of a start loop plus five laps and crossed the fin­ish line with a 35-sec­ond mar­gin over Roth. Canada’s Tyler Clark was 27th, Gun­nar Holm­gren was 29th and Brody San­der­son did not fin­ish fol­low­ing a crash.

JU­NIOR WOMEN

Rox­ane Ver­mette led the Cana­di­ans, fin­ish­ing 16th in the ju­nior women’s XCO 18.8km race that con­sisted of a start loop plus four laps. Laura Stig­ger (AUT) took the win over Loana Le­comte (FRA) in sec­ond, with Na­dia Grod (SUI) in third. Dana Gil­li­gan was 20th and Leya Mas­son placed 23rd, while Sid­ney McGill did not start the com­pe­ti­tion due to a strained wrist sus­tained dur­ing train­ing.

Team Canada’s head coach, Dan Proulx, sum­ma­rized the project pos­i­tively: “We had a great Worlds team this year – new en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm! The high­light was Holden Jones’ bronze medal! The team re­ally im­pressed me with their ef­fort level. They gave ev­ery­thing. Amongst our team, there were sev­eral mas­sive im­prove­ments in per­for­mance – Ha­ley Smith, Marc-An­dré Fortier, Quin­ton Dis­era, Soren Meeuwisse, An­drew L’Esper­ance. Over­all, it was a race where at least one Cana­dian in ev­ery cat­e­gory was strong and com­pet­i­tive. That bodes well for the fu­ture. The ones who per­formed best are just get­ting started in their ca­reers as high-per­for­mance ath­letes.”

Canada’s Holden Jones won a gutsy ju­nior men’sXCO bronze medal at his MTB Worlds de­but inCairns, Aus­tralia.

Marc-An­dré Fortier fin­ished a strong 12th in the U23 men’s race.

Elite men’s start

Catharine Pen­drel was part of the ini­tial lead group, but ended up27th in the Elite women’s race.

Swiss star Nino Schurter made his­tory de­fend­ing his ti­tle in the Elite men’s XCO race for the per­fect sea­son.

Emily Batty brought home a strong 7th in the Elite women’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Léan­dre Bouchard was the top Cana­dian Elite man, fin­ish­ing 24th.

Soren Meeuwisse fin­ished 16th, the top Cana­dian in the U23 women’s race.

Switzer­land’s Jolanda Neff took the Elite women’s ti­tle.

On­tario’s Quin­ton Dis­era was 17th in theU23 men’s race.

Ju­nior woman Rox­ane Ver­mette led the Canucks in 16th.

Dana Gil­li­gan en route to 20th in the ju­nior women’s race.

The ju­nior men’s XCO podium (l-r): Joel Roth, Cameron Wright, Holden Jones

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