Bresset goes back to back at World Champs in PMB
Pietermaritzburg – Defending women’s Cross Country World Champion Julie Bresset of France repeated her feat of last year when she held off a relentless onslaught from Polish rider Maja Wloszczowska to claim the gold medal and title of World Champion in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday.
It was a group of six riders that held the momentum for the first lap and a half but it was whittled down to three riders – Bresset, Wloszczowska and Slovenian Tanja Zakelj – after Italian hopeful Eva Lechner took a bad dive at the treacherous Sharka’s Playground section on the second lap.
The top three fought it out for another lap until more drama unfolded with the Slovenian crashing out at the Corkscrew which meant that the race was all but done for her and the French and Polish riders would be the ones to fight it out for the title.
The race ebbed and flowed with both women taking turns to lead the race but it was Bresset who had too much in the tank when both riders arrived at the final Tree House section. This proved to be the defining moment of the race as the French rider negotiated her way through the section ahead and maintained the lead to the end.
Bresset was aware of the tactics of Wloszczowska and knew that she needed to be ahead going into the final rock garden in order to win the race. With that advantage it was her race to lose coming down the final straight.
“I tried to keep ahead, especially through the technical sections and then on the last lap I got into the last rock garden first and from there it is really fast to the finish and I had good speed so I was very happy.
“I’m very happy to have been able to make my come back and I was hoping for a top five but I got first and it is great,” Bresset mentioned.
The crash by the Slovenian was unfortunate but for Wloszczowska it gave her a chance to focus on her attack of Bresset at the front. Having a final push at the end was the tactic that the Pole went with but she did not have enough power to take the lead.
“I wanted to save my energy for the last lap,” Wolszczowska said.
“I knew it would be important to be first on the last downhill and so the race was going to be decided at the corner before the last rock garden. I tried to pass Julie on the climb but she was too strong and it was just her day today but I’m still very happy with my second place.”
“(Earlier) I was in front of Eva (Lechner) so I didn’t see her go down, I only saw she wasn’t behind me when we turned the corner and I guess that’s the beauty of sport – you need a bit of good luck,” the silver medalist said.
The major surprise of the race came from Swiss rider Esther Süss who ended in third position after coming through the first split in 19th position. The 39 year old showed her skills and experience to make her way through the field into third and consolidate that position for the final three laps of the race.
The Russian rider Irina Kalentieva was the biggest challenge for Süss however the Swiss rider was able to get in front of the Russian just before the start of the final lap and had enough energy to hold off the Russian to take the bronze medal.
“It was a really hard race,” Süss said. “I felt good this morning but I wasn’t anywhere near the front but I still believed in myself though and step by step I kept coming up.
“Kalentieva was behind me and I knew I needed to be in front of her on the last downhill so I pushed on the uphill and managed to get a bit ahead and then I knew I would be safe,” the veteran added.
Both Zakelj and Lechner made up a significant amount of time after their crashes with Zakelj gaining a number of places to end in top five but the impressive ride came from the Italian who had to make her way through the field to end in the top 10.
The South African contingent battled against the elite international competition with none of the representatives able to avoid the 80% rule along.
The local cause was also dealt a further cruel blow when their contingent was reduced by one after Amy McDougall crashed heavily at the Tree House section which meant that she had to be stretchered off the course after she went over the front of her handle bars.
Sunday’s action will see all the focus on hometown hero Greg Minnaar as he looks to successfully defend his world title on home soil in the elite men’s downhill competition, which is preceded by the elite women’s clash.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – UCI MTB & TRIALS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
1.Julie Bresset (FRA) 1:42.54
2.Maja Wloszczowska (POL) +00.05
3.Ester Süss (SUI) +01.06
4.Irina Kalentieva (RUS) +01.29
5.Tanja Zakelj (SLO) +02.03
6.Alexandra Engen (SWE) +02.57
7.Kathrin Strinemann (SUI) +03.05
8.Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (NOR) +03.23
9.Lea Davison (USA) +03.41
10.Eva Lechner (ITA) +03.58
11.Blaza Klemencic (SLO) +04.14
12.Katrin Leumann (SUI) +04.17
13.Tereza Hurikova (CZE) +04.41
14.Elisabeth Osl (AUT) +05.59
15.Nathalie Schneitter (SUI) +06.14
16.Kataryna Solus-Miskowicz (POL) +06.15
17.Emily Batty (CAN) +06.16
18.Katerina Nash (CZE) +06.32
19.Adelheid Morath (GER) +07.16
20.Catharine Pendrel (CAN) +08.15