June 18, 2008 (Val di Sole, Italy) – The sun finally came out for real today in Italy’s Val di Sole at Day 2 of the competitions at the 2008 UCI MTB World Championships. After switching to mud tires for yesterday’s Team Relay and training, many riders decided to change back to a less aggressive tread once the sun began to dry up the mud.
Two World Champions were crowned today: Laura Abril (Col) in the Junior Women’s XC competition, and Tanja Zakelj (Slo) in the U23 Women’s XC race. Canadians delivered two impressive sixth-place rides. The first came from Bianca Adolf (Can) in the Junior Women’s XC race, and the second was delivered by Emily Batty (Can) in the U23 Women’s XC event.
XC Junior Women
At 10:30 a.m. local time/4:30 a.m. EST the junior women’s field of 45 riders started under sunny skies. After the first lap of three, it was Barbara Benko (Hun) in the lead together with eventual winner Abril. They had already established a significant gap over third place, Vivienne Meyer (Sui). Adolf was in sixth position, and two minutes off the pace. The entire race, Abril and Benko battled, coming through together every time, until Abril attacked on the final lap to finish 37s ahead of Benko. Germany’s Mona Eiberweiser (Ger) overcame Meyer on the last lap to take the bronze medal. Canada’s Adolf, who had moved up to fifth place at the end of lap two, had to settle for sixth. The 18-year-old from Coquitlam, BC was pleased with her race, although she admitted to falling several times, especially on the final lap, when she was being chased by Paula Gorycka (Pol), who passed her for fifth place. “It’s scary, racing if you’re nervous,” she said. She added that she’d had some pre-race jitters which subsided as soon as the gun went off. “On the start line I was thinking: I don’t want to do this anymore, my stomach feels bad.” Adolf recovered quickly to finish 6th.
Canada’s second entrant, Leah Kirchmann (Manitoba), was content with her 35th-place. “It was hard she said. I rode as hard as I could.” To leave it all out on the course was her goal, and she’s confident she achieved that. “I have experience now, at the world level,” she added, as this was her first international competition.
XC U23 Women
The U23 Women started their four-lap, 23km race at 1pm local time/7am EST, when things really started to heat up under the Italian sun. The field was stacked with many former and current champions, including defending European Champ, Nathalie Schneitter (Sui) and 2006 Junior MTB World Champion Zakelj. The two took charge from the gun, with Schneitter leading the field after half a lap, followed by Zakelj, Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Pol) and Julie Krasniak (Fra). By the second lap, Zakelj had put time between herself and Schneitter, after which she continued to increase the gap.
In the end, Zakelj won by nearly three minutes over second place, Schneitter, who rolled in on a flat tire, relieved to have hung onto the silver medal. The fight for bronze raged between Dawidowicz, Nataliya Crompets (Ukr), and Caroline Mani (Fra), with Dawidowicz taking it. Canada’s Batty looked strong throughout the race, and steadily moved up the field, from ninth place after the first lap, to sixth place in the end. “I’m super happy with it,” she said about her ride.”
“I didn’t have a position I was aiming for. I was 10th last year, and knew I wanted to do better.”
MTB Worlds Notes
– It was Batty’s 20th birthday on Monday.
– Adolf and Kirchmann are second cousins and share the same birthday: June 30, 1990.
– Rumour has it that Geoff Kabush has come down with a cold.
– One of Canada’s Junior Men, Evan Guthrie, also has a cold, but that didn’t seem to hold him back in the Team Relay.
– Catharine Pendrel clocked the fastest women’s lap in the Team Relay, exactly a minute quicker than the next-fastest woman: her Luna teammate Katerina Nash (Cze).