MTB Worlds 2012: Elite men and women's eliminator results

Alexandra Engen and Ralph Naef win at world championships

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

Alexandra Engen (Sweden) won the first-ever elite women's eliminator world championship in downtown Saalfelden, Austria on Sunday afternoon. U23 cross country world champion Jolanda Neff (Switzerland) finished in second place ahead of Alexandra Dawidowicz (Poland) in third.

The beaming Swede said after the race that her victory had not yet sunk in. "It's been an awesome day. I'm always really nervous before the qualifying because you never know if you have the legs," she said. "After qualifying, I knew I had good legs. My German team Ghost was here helping me, and I could totally focus on the race."

Engen qualified fastest earlier in the afternoon and seemed to move easily through each of her rounds. However, she met her toughest match upon reaching the finals with Neff. Engen led out the two-lap finale, but Neff was glued to her back wheel. At the sharp corner just after one lap to go, Neff jumped around Engen to the wild cheers of the crowd.

But it wasn't over. On the last lap, Engen came back around Neff and seemed like she might take it for good this time. However, the unrelenting Neff put on the gas and got around Engen again. Then Engen turned on the afterburners and put it in drag race mode to power around Neff just in time for the finish.

Alexandra Engen in action before her victory

Men's elite competition

Shortly after, Ralph Naef (Switzerland) powered to the first elite men's eliminator world championship. Naef defeated top qualifier Miha Halzer (Slovenia) and home crowd favorite Daniel Federspiel (Austria) in the men's big final. It was a beautiful sunny day, and huge crowds came out to watch and cheer.

"I'm happy to be the first world champion in the sprint eliminator," said Naef.

As the fastest qualifier, Halzer always got to pick his starting gate, and he consistently chose the favorite lane 2. He marched steadily through the heats, often winning by a huge gap over those he faced.

From the start of the men's final, the Slovenian set out as he usually did - blasting to the front. He was chased first by Federspiel and then by U23 rider Christian Pfäffle (Germany). Naef was a bit off the back in fourth place, but he'd come from behind in some of his earlier heats, too.

"My plan was to go in second position after the start," said Naef. "The guys were just faster. I had to go with plan B. I knew I had to pass them on the straights. I knew I had to do this just before the last corner."

Halzer's initial burst of speed looked like it might be good enough for the win, but after lap one, Naef moved up into second place and jumped onto Halzer's wheel. Maybe the Slovenian could be beaten after all?

It wasn't until the final sprinting stretch that Naef burst around Halzar, who quickly realized he was blown and would be beaten.

"They went really fast in the start. This is not my strength. So I had to follow," said Naef. "Miha had a big gap. I knew if I could catch him and go with him, maybe I could sprint him. I'm a cross country racer and am used to the long distances. It was hard to close the gap to him."

To the delight of fans enjoying the tight race, Naef took the victory. It was a victory he said was especially difficult the day after having done the cross country race, but his endurance paid off.

WOMEN'S RESULTS

Big final

1Alexandra Engen (Sweden)  
2Jolanda Neff* (Switzerland)  
3Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Poland)  
4Ramona Forchini° (Switzerland)  

Small final

5Kathrin Stirnemann (Switzerland)  
6Eva Lechner (Italy)  
7Cécile Ravanel (France)  
8Anna Oberparleiter* (Italy) 

1/4 finals

9Lea Davison (United States Of America)  
10Linda Indergand* (Switzerland)  
11Laura Turpijn (Netherlands)  
12Elisabeth Brandau (Germany)  
13Anneke Beerten (Netherlands)  
14Anne Terpstra* (Netherlands)  
15Serena Calvetti* (Italy)  
16Michelle Hediger* (Switzerland)  

1/8 finals

17Katrin Leumann (Switzerland)  
18Maaris Meier (Estonia)  
19Kajsa Snihs* (Sweden)  
20Ingrid Sofie Jacobsen* (Norway)  
21Ana Zupan (Slovenia)  
22Rosara Joseph (New-Zealand)  
23Barbara Benko* (Hungary)  
24Rowena Fry (Australia)  
25Andrea Waldis° (Switzerland)  
26Mary Mcconneloug (United States Of America)  
27Alessia Bulleri* (Italy)  
28Georgia Gould (United States Of America)  
29Pavla Havlikova (Czech Republic)  
30Heidi Rosasen Sandsto (Norway)  
31Noelia Rodriguez (Argentina)  
DNFJenny Rissveds° (Sweden) 

Rankings by nation

1Switzerland88 pts
2Italy70 
3Netherlands61 
4Sweden47 
5United States Of America36 
6Poland30 
7France26 
8Germany21 
9Norway16 
10Estonia15 
11Slovenia12 
12New-Zealand11 
13Hungary10 
14Australia9 
15Czech Republic4 
16Argentina2 

MEN'S RESULTS

Big final

1Ralph Naef (Switzerland)  
2Miha Halzer (Slovenia)  
3Daniel Federspiel (Austria)  
4Christian Pfäffle* (Germany)

Small final

5Manuel Fumic (Germany)  
6Fabrice Mels* (Belgium)  
7Simon Gegenheimer (Germany)  
8Paul Van Der Ploeg (Australia)

1/4 finals

9Mirco Widmer* (Switzerland)  
10Geoff Kabush (Canada)  
11Simon Stiebjahn* (Germany)  
12Jan Nesvadba* (Czech Republic)  
13Kenta Gallagher* (Great Britain)  
14Martin Gluth* (Germany)  
15Andy Eyring (Germany)  
16Daniel Mcconnell (Australia)

1/8 finals

17Martino Fruet (Italy)  
18Heiko Gutmann (Germany)  
19Chris Jongewaard (Australia)  
20Gregor Raggl* (Austria)  
21Urban Ferencak* (Slovenia)  
22Henrique Avancini (Brazil)  
23Tim Lemmers (Netherlands)  
24Matthias Stirnemann* (Switzerland)  
25Luiz Cocuzzi* (Brazil)  
26Julian Schelb* (Germany)  
27Emil Lindgren (Sweden)  
28Fabien Canal (France)  
29Anton Cooper° (New-Zealand)  
30Michal Lami (Slovakia)  
31José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain)  
DNFRok Korosec* (Slovenia)

Rankings by nation

1Germany83 pts
2Switzerland65 
3Australia56 
4Slovenia44 
5Austria43 
6Belgium27 
7Canada23 
8Czech Republic21 
9Great Britain20 
10Brazil19 
11Italy16 
12Netherlands10 
13Sweden6 
14France5 
15New-Zealand4 
16Slovakia3 
17Spain2 

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