August 31, 2005 — The World Mountain Bike Championships launched into high gear today in Livigno, Italy with the Team Relay, the first showcase event.
Spain won gold with Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (ESP) giving the final and decisive push in the anchor position. Ruben Ruzafa Cueto, Oliver Aviles Gilabert and Rocio Gamonal Ferrera were the other three Spaniards on the gold medal team.
Italy took the silver medal with a team that included World Cup powerhouse Marco Bui, as well as Tony Longo, Eva Lechner and Johannes Schweiggl.
France had been leading the race until Cedric Ravanel (FRA) flatted on the final lap. Ravanel managed to pull it together despite his bad luck. He delivered the bronze medal for his teammates Alexis Vuillermoz, StÃ©phane Tempier and SÃ©verine Hansen.
Team Canada was considered a favourite after winning the event in 2001, 2002 and 2004, but had to settle for ninth today. Team Canada consisted of Ricky Federau, Alison Sydor, Martin Lazarski and Neal Kindree. The original roster contained Geoff Kabush, who wears the rainbow stripes from last year’s relay victory, but his bike disappeared in the shuffle during travel. Federau was asked last-minute to replace Kabush.
The Team Relay took place on an eight-kilometre course, the second half of the 12-kilometre cross-country loop. The lap contained one large climb and descent, as well as a significant flat, power section.
In the usual relay format, teams consisted of four riders: one elite man, one elite woman, one espoir man and one junior man.
Because of the different team strategies and decisions on when to send out which riders, the race was exciting, with lots of position changes.
The Spanish team won the first Team Relay in 2000 on their home turf in Sierra Nevada, Spain. Today’s win was a surprise and their first relay podium since 2001 when they placed third.
1. Spain (Ruben Ruzafa Cueto, Oliver Aviles Gilabert, Rocio Gamonal Ferrera, Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos) 1:26:02
2. Italy (Marco Bui, Tony Longo, Eva Lechner, Johannes Schweiggl) at 0:19
3. France (Alexis Vuillermoz, StÃ©phane Tempier, SÃ©verine Hansen, CÃ©dric Ravanel) 0:30
4. Sweden (Emil Lindgren, Mattias Wengelin, Maria Ostergren, Fredrik Kessiakoff) 0:41
5. Switzerland (Florian Vogel, Nino Schurter, Petra Henzi, Martin Fanger) 1:22
6. Poland (Marek Galilski, Dariusz Batek, Maja Wloszczowska, Adrian Dzialakiewicz) 2:00
7. USA (Adam Craig, Samuel Schultz, Kyle Hammaker, Mary Mc Conneloug) 2:11
8. Germany (Stefan Sahm, Heiko Gutmann, Benjamin Rudiger, Sabine Spitz) 2:11
9. Canada (Ricky Federau, Martin Lazarski, Neal Kindree, Alison Sydor) 2:54
10. New Zealand (Kashi Leuchs, Marcus Roy, Clinton Robert Avery, Rosara Joseph) 3:22