Baum and Keller smile a golden smile at Worlds
Pietermaritzburg – Thursday’s cross country action of the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships saw a fascinating pair of events unfold as Lukas Baum of Germany and Alessandra Keller of Switzerland reigned victorious in the testing junior men’s and women’s clashes respectively.
Baum overcame a powerful junior men’s field to add the globe’s most prestigious junior cross country title to his recently claimed German national and European continental victories, proving why he is regarded as one of the most talented young riders currently on the circuit.
“This is my third title this year so I guess I have done something right this year and it is just an incredible feeling for me right now,” said Baum.
“I prepared the whole year for this race and built my form up to this point so I’m so happy to have won.
“Coming into the race I knew I was strong but once I got to the front it was hard out there on my own so I really had to work hard.
“Before I got there though, on the second lap, the Frenchman (Raphael Gay) crashed in front of me and I rode into him and crashed too. When I got going again I saw my handle bars were twisted so I had to be careful through the technical sections and then push as hard as I could in other areas.”
Despite Baum having secured victory relatively early on in the encounter the race behind him was a cat and mouse affair right up until the final five hundred meters with Canada’s Peter Disera ultimately claiming second.
“I felt strong on the technical sections but not on the climbs, which was obviously a bit worrying but once I got into second there was just no looking back,” said Disera.
Top seed, Italy’s Gioele Bertolini, made it two medals in two days as he added the junior men’s bronze to his team relay gold her claimed late on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m very happy with the two medals. Yesterday’s medal was also very important for me because it was yesterday’s first medal gave me the strength for the second one today!” explained Bertolini.
Having suffered a crash which saw him tangle with Baum early on, whilst occupying second position, France’s Gay then suffered a flat tyre as well, forcing him down to ninth position. Determination and grit saw the young talent power his way back up through the field to eventually claim fourth place ahead of the Czech Republic’s Jan Vastl in fifth whilst South Africa’s Alan Hatherly claimed a memorable fifteenth.
A notable absentee from the list of finishers, having occupied second place early on in the encounter, was New Zealand’s Samuel Gaze who curiously withdrew from the affair in just the second round despite not suffering a mechanical issue of any form.
Earlier in the day Keller powered to a hard-fought victory in the junior women’s cross country event having put together a perfectly progressive performance over the four lap affair.
Keller, who was down in fifth position after the first half a lap, steadily worked her way through the field until she found herself all alone out in front halfway through the clash and the young Swiss competitor didn’t look back.
“This is crazy for me. I am the world champion in my first junior year!” said an overwhelmed Keller. “
“There were too many riders at the start, it was like traffic jam and I fell off my bike trying to pass a rider. When I got back on and continued I was down in fifth place. It then took me a long time to get past the athlete in front of me but I always believed in myself and that I could do it.
“You only win when you cross the finish line and when I was leading I continued to believe I could win the race!” she added.
Despite Keller’s dominance there were many a battle unfolding behind her which kept the large crowd on the edge of their seats throughout. The race for second place was eventually claimed by Italy’s Emilie Collomb with Germany’s Sarah Bauer claiming third.
“I’m really pleased. This is the reward I wanted for all my effort,” said Collomb.
“I had a really bad start and had to come from sixteenth to get my third place. I tried hard on the last lap to reach second but she was just too good,” added an exhausted Bauer.
European Continental Championships silver medalist Sofia Wiedenroth (Germany) also showed steady form as the clash went on, eventually working her way up to fourth place, finishing ahead of a charging Nadja Heigl (Austria) who, having started the final lap in eleventh position, stormed through the field to claim fifth place whilst the Ukraine’s Dina Gordiuk suffered the reverse fortunes sliding down from fifth to thirteenth on the final lap.
The race got underway under a cloud of drama as European Champion and one of the pre-race favourites to take the title, Malene Degn from Denmark, was forced out of the clash after just a few hundred meters after she received a shunt from behind just meters from the start line which broke her gear cable, ending her title aspirations in the process.
The South African flag was flown high as local under 18 star Bianca Haw, having soared to third place on the opening lap, fought hard to hang onto a tenth place finish and path the way for the host nation’s riders to leave their mark on the competition.
Friday’s cross country programme sees the women’s and men’s under 23 races take place at 13h00 and 15h15 respectively with the major talk amongst riders revolving around the weather and whether or not the rain will in fact arrive or not.
The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013. More information can be found atwww.mtbworldchamps.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – UCI MTB & TRIALS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
1.Lukas Baum (GER) 1:20.06
2.Peter Disera (CAN) +00:42
3.Gioele Bertolini (ITA) +01:02
4.Raphael Gay (FRA) +01:07
5.Jan Vastl (CZE) +01:13
6.Eirik Augdal (NOR) +01:46
7.Georg Egger (GER) +01:54
8.Hugo Pigeon (FRA) +03:14
9.Philipp Bertsch (GER) +04.18
10.Andrin Beeli (SUI) +04.48
1.Alessandra Keller (SUI) 1:18.24
2.Emilie Collomb (ITA) +00.46
3.Sarah Bauer (GER) +01.01
4.Sofia Wiedenroth (GER) +02:14
5.Nadja Heigl (AUT) +03:17
6.Kate Courtney (USA) +03:41
7.Alica Barnes (GBR) +03:52
8.Greta Weithaler (ITA) +04:29
9.Kristina Kirillova (RUS) +04:32
10.Bianca Haw (RSA) +04:35