The Azzuri dominate final day at Masters World Champs
Pietermaritzburg – The final day of competition at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg saw the Italians claim two of the three gold medals on offer as Fabio Zampese produced the ride of the competition to oust Jan Withaar in the ultimate race of the week-long event.
In the first race of the day, South Africa’s adopted German Nico Pfitzenmaier put the nightmare of the 2012 World Championships behind him to claim the rainbow jersey in the men’s 40-44 category after he fought off his ABSA Cape Epic partner, Brazilian Abraao Azevedo, to take the title.
The German born rider produced a great ride to end just under a minute and a half ahead of the Brazilian. It was a dominant performance from Pfitzenmaier who lead the entire way and was elated with his performance.
“I am feeling great. I had such a good race on an amazing course,” the newly crowned World Champion said.
“The win is awesome but for me it is not about the victory it is about getting out of my comfort zone and just being myself and focusing hard on something – that is what life is about.”
After every lap Pfitzenmaier looked to be pushing harder and harder and, barring a spill of sort, he never looked like he was going to relinquish the championship no matter how hard the competition tried to catch him.
“I didn’t make too many mistakes today and my legs felt great.
“I took advantage of my technical skills out there, had some nice jumps and really enjoyed the course.
“I had some bad luck last year in Brazil with a mechanical in the second lap so it was amazing to have everything go smoothly for me this year.”
The second race of the day was just as impressive as the Italian rider Mirco Balducci produced a great ride to beat off South African national champion Paul Cordes to take the gold medal. The Italian dug deep to gain the lead at the end of the second lap and never looked back as he dropped Cordes to claim the title.
It was fitting that the final race of the champs was filled with drama in a race that saw defending champion Italian Fabio Zampese obliterate a huge first lap deficit to haul in local star Jan Withaar on the final lap and take the 30-34 rainbow jersey.
The drama occurred on the opening lap where the Italian picked up a puncture and only managed to leave the first technical zone in 12th position but he put his head down and pushed through to take the memorable victory.
“It was a very good race. I was one minute and fifteen seconds behind the leader on the first lap when I got to the techzone and then lost another two minutes because I had to change my rear wheel and left the techzone in twelfth,” said Zampese.
“All that was going through my head for the rest of the race was ‘I can, I can, I can’ and I am just so happy to have won!” he added through tears of joy.
Having ridden in a league of his own to claim the 2012 title, Zampese far out perfromed his previous best to make it two from two.
“I have known Fabio for ten years and last year, when he won the Masters World Champs, it was the best I ever saw him race. However, today he raced even better than he did last year!” said Zampese’s sponsor and friend Marco.
In the build-up to the event Withaar was determined to take the top position on the podium but it was not to be after he was beaten by a rider that was just in a class of his own on the day.
“I had trained to take gold, my goal was to win, I gave it my all out there today but Fabio was just unreal! To come from as far back as he did and win was just absolutely unbelievable!” said Withaar.
“I’m not disappointed in the slightest. This silver medal is probably the best thing in my life and my greatest achievement ever. I gave it absolutely everything I had, I had nothing more to give, so I am just seriously, seriously happy!” he added.
The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 to 25 August. More info can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – UCI MTB MASTERS WOLRD CHAMPIONSHIPS
CROSS COUNTRY MEN
1.Fabio Zampese (ITA) 1:47.30
2.Jan Withaar (RSA)1:49.25
3.Oscar Gracia (ARG) 1:52.52
4.Dion Froneman (RSA) 1:53.08
5.Gaston Larralde (ARG) 1:54.13
1.Micro Balducci (ITA) 1:43.50
2.Paul Cordes (RSA) 1:45.39
3.Brand du Plessis (RSA) 1:46.02
4.Lamarque Olivier (FRA) 1:46.28
5.Sondre Norland (NOR) 1:50.26
1.Nico Pfitzenmaier (RSA) 1:17.31
2.Abraao Azevedo (BRA) 1:18.58
3.Jose Baron Yuste (ESP) 1:19.25
4.Neil Bradford (RSA) 1:20.54
5.Gunnar Tojren (SWE) 1:22.15