This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
After rain in the days leading up to the Downhill world championship races, Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Morgane Charre (France) took her first world title in the Elite women's race, surprising even herself. In the Junior category, Holly Feniak of Canada became the second rider from that country to take the Junior title in two years, following Lauren Rosser in 2010.
The women's race was expected to be between defending champion Emmeline Ragot (France) and Rachel Atherton (Great Britain), the two riders who have been battling it out all season in the UCI World Cup. However, Atherton was not a factor in the race, suffering from an undisclosed injury and finishing fifth. After Canadians Micayla Gatto and Casey Brown came close to breaking the four minute barrier, Charre obliterated it, taking the lead time down to 3:50.654 with six riders remaining.
Countrywoman Floriane Pugin came within 1.617 seconds, with last year's Junior world champion Manon Carpenter then getting a tenth of a second closer. Ragot was next, but she could only get within 1.2 seconds, leaving Atherton the only rider who could deny Charre the championship. Atherton was within two-hundredths of a second after the first intermediate time check, but faded badly in the second half of the race, allowing the 22 year old Charre to step into the rainbow jersey.
"I did not expect this," admitted a stunned Charre. "I thought that Emmeline [Ragot] would beat me for sure, or Atherton. I had a very good run and pedalled a lot, with only little mistakes, but I have never had a result like this before."