July 02, 2016 (Nové Mesto, CZE) – Marc Andre Fortier was the top Canadian in 36th as Samuel Gaze (Nzl) took the win in the 23.3km U23 Men’s race on Saturday – start loop 2.8km + 5 Laps x 4.1km. Victor Koretzky (Fra) was a bridesmaid again in second at 50s behind with Marcel Guerrini (Sui) in third. Team Canada’s Peter Disera finished 41st, Marc-Antoine Nadon was 52nd and Alexandre Vialle placed 68th.
“It was a very hard but fun race. This course is amazing, the crowd is amazing too—there were a lot of people to cheer us all over the course,” said Fortier. “For me, it was a very good day, I was very happy with my result. I started from the back of the peloton but all the course, I just kept catching people, so it was fun.”
Predictions for rain in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, were pushed back to Saturday night, leaving sunny skies for the U23 men on course at the MTB World Championships on Saturday. The 11am start wasn’t as blisteringly hot as predicted either – 26 degrees, compared to the projected 29.
Yesterday’s junior races saw fast times through the 2.8 kilometer start loop, but the U23 field featured more pack racing at the front as Titouan Carod (FRA), Gaze, Guerrini, Andreassen headed onto the actual race course together.
The U23 race fielded four Canucks – Disera, Nadon, Fortier, and reigning U23 champ Vialle. Through the start loop, it seemed that Disera’s road racing focus was going to help his speed and he was top Canadian in 31st, with Nadon immediately behind him. Farther back, Fortier sat 56th and Vialle, 71st.
“By the end of the start loop, I was within the top 35 and was feeling really good, everything was firing on all cylinders,” said Nadon. “I had a chain drop on me on the rutty decent at the beginning of the first lap, and it broke the flow of things a bit. As the race progressed it seemed that more and more people were gathering on the sidelines. It was the most defining cheering I’ve ever heard. My ears are still ringing.”
By the end of the first of five 4.1-kilometer laps, Andreassen had taken over the lead, while Koretzky found his way into the lead pack. Midway through Lap 1 Disera had moved into 29th position, as Nadon fell back to 51st, with Fortier in 53rd and Vialle in 67th.
At halfway through Lap 2, Koretzky took over the lead with Gaze close behind, and Carod and Guerrini trying to maintain contact. Behind, Fortier was moving up through the group, and was now 42nd. Disera held his position in 31st for the rest of the lap.
Carod bridged back up to the leaders during the third lap, bringing Guerrini with him. Koretzky fell back while Carod again took over the lead, with Gaze close behind. With Carod in the lead, Koretzky and Guerrini were able to close the gap. Behind, Disera was able to slot into 30th position, while Fortier moved into 41st. The end of the third lap saw Disera back in 33rd while Fortier entered the top 40.
As the penultimate lap began, Carod, Gaze, Koretzky, and Guerrini were together, with Georg Egger (GER) and Arnis Petersons (LAT) chasing. It was during Lap 4 that Gaze made his move, first opening a four-second gap to Carod, with Koretzky and Guerrini at 10 seconds behind. Carod dropped out of the lead pack, and the racers spread out throughout the lap.
Gaze held his gap for the last lap, stretching it to 50 seconds by the time he crossed the line as the new U23 World Champion—an upgrade from last year’s fourth place finish. Behind him, Koretzky took second place (for the second time), followed by Guerrini, Egger, and Petersons.
On the final lap Fortier passed Disera to take over the top Canadian spot as they settled in. The race concluded with Fortier at 8 minutes behind the race leader in 37th, Disera in 41st, Nadon, 52nd, and Vialle, 68th.
“This was one of the craziest start I’ve ever taken part in,” continued Nadon. “104 guys all aiming at coming out on top! The first 45 seconds were incredibly nerve-wracking, the sounds of brakes screaming, tires screeching on the pavement, guys screaming, the smells of burnt rubber and overheating brake pads—it reminded me of a road race crash.
“The course was spectacular,” he added. “The climbs were extremely steep and littered with roots. I raced my Rocky Mountain Element and was very happy on the dual suspension! The man-made features made for pinpoint accuracy, and there were no second chances.”
“It was a surprise for me to be the top Canadian. Peter has been very strong this year… I didn’t expect to be the first—I’m just happy,” said Fortier. “The start was not too good for me, but I kept my concentration and just worked on catching people all race long. But the feelings were good, and the crowds here in the Czech are amazing! I’m always proud to race for Canada, and this was the big goal of the year so I am satisfied.”
Full interview with Fortier
1. Samuel Gaze (Nzl) 1:17:57
2. Victor Koretzky (Fra) 0:50
3. Marcel Guerrini (Sui) 1:04
4. Georg Egger (Ger) 1:52
5. Arnis Petersons (Lat) 2:03
36. Marc Andre Fortier (Can) 8:00
41. Peter Disera (Can) 8:20
52. Marc-Antoine Nadon (Can) 9:42
68. Alexandre Vialle (Can) 13:57
Full results here.