The Czech Republic’s Jaroslav Kulhavy today showed the large and enthusiastic crowd in Champéry who is the boss of cross-country: after winning five out of seven rounds of this year’s World Cup he confirmed his current superiority in the discipline by becoming World Champion.
The rain that started to fall early on in the race did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Czech rider, who was determined to go for gold after his silver medal at last year’s Worlds in Mont-Sainte-Anne.
He rode to victory in front of Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, who delighted his home crowd with his silver medal performance. Double Olympic Champion and four-times World Champion Julien Absalon (FRA) took the bronze medal, with last year’s World Champion, José Antonio Hermida Ramos (ESP) coming in fourth.
The four top men’s performances confirm their results in this year’s UCI World Cup, where the final podium was exactly the same. Kulhavy’s new World title comes after that of Juniors World Champion in 2003 in Lugano, a bronze medal in the U-23 in 2007 and last year’s silver.
Nino Schurter put pressure on his rivals from the beginning, and with four laps to go, only Kulhavy, Hermida and Absalon were still with him. One lap later, Hermida and Absalon had dropped off the pace and the battle for gold was between the Swiss and the Czech.
However, when Kulhavy decided to make his move in the penultimate lap, it was clear that only a mishap was going to deprive him of the World title. He eventually crossed the line 47 seconds ahead of Schurter, and 1m26 ahead of Absalon.
Elite Women’s Cross-country: Catharine Prendel wins gold for Canada
Catharine Prendel offered Canada its first medal of the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships when she won gold in the Elite Women’s cross-country race.
The slightly-built athlete, who finished second in the UCI World Cup this year, confirmed her good shape by leading virtually from start to finish. She finished the 6 laps in 1:46:14, followed by Poland’s Maja Wloszczowska, who made an impressive comeback after flatting early in the race. Italy’s Eva Lechner took the bronze medal.
The beginning of the race appeared to be a battle between Pendrel and last year’s World Champion, Wloszczowska as the two quickly drew away from the rest of the field.
However with five rounds still to race, Wloszczowska got a flat back tyre and had to run some sections beside her bike to reach the technical assistance zone. Then began her long campaign to get back into the running.
Making up for lost time, she fought “the greatest battle in my life today” to pull in veteran Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (NOR), Irina Kalentieva (RUS), who was silver medalist in the 2010 World Championships, and finally, in the second to last lap, Eva Lechner.
Pendrel saw her lead over her chasers reduced from 1m05 with three laps to go, to 28 seconds at the end. But the gutsy Canadian, who worked all alone at the front of the field, never looked in any real danger.