Junior women: Pauline Ferrand Prevot wins from Michelle Hediger
The first day of individual competition at the 2009 Mountain Bike Worlds in Canberra, Australia opened with the junior women's cross-country, and France took the first title as Pauline Ferrand Prevot beat Michelle Hediger of Switzerland after a race-long battle. South Africa's Candice Neethling took the bronze.
The three-lap race was between Ferrand Prevot and Hediger from the start. The pair battled back and forth all race, with the Swiss rider better on the technical portions in the first half of each lap, and the French stronger in the second. This should come as no surprise, as Ferrand Prevot has finished second at the Road Worlds in both the road race and the time trial.
It came down to the final half lap, when Ferrand Prevot was able to power away from Hediger and roll in 33 seconds ahead of the Swiss rider.
"In the last lap," explained Ferrand Prevot, "Michelle [Hediger] was leading by a few seconds, but I knew that I was better on the flat, and that is where I was able to take the lead. It was a dream to finally win after finishing twice second."
Neethling took control of third place midway through the first lap, and was never challenged, finishing 1:06 back. The battle for fourth was much tighter, with Israel's Noga Korem initially holding the spot before being overtaken by Germany's Helen Grobert on the final lap.
U23 women: Aleksandra Dawidowicz takes convincing win
The under 23 women crowned a new champion on Wednesday at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Canberra, Australia, when Poland's Aleksandra Dawidowicz convincingly rode away from the 34-rider field. Sweden's Alexandra Engen took the silver medal, and Julie Bresset gave France its second medal of the day with third place.
Canada's Emily Batty, a co-favourite with Dawidowicz, suffered mechanical problems in the first half of the race, dropping into the 20s before recovering somewhat to finish 11th and as the top North American.
Dawidowicz saw her win as a step on her path to even stronger results. "Last year I was third, a month and a half ago I was European champion, and this year I am champion, so it is a very exciting year for me. Now I would like to be Olympic Champion, so I am looking toward the Olympics in London in 2012."
At the start, Bresset jumped into the lead, closely followed by Dawidowicz, Engen and Batty. These three overtook the French rider after she crashed, with Dawidowicz and Engen gapping Batty by the halfway point of the first lap as the mechanical problems began to rear their head.
Batty dropped behind Bresset at the second pit, and stopped for mechanics to look at her rear derailleur, losing ten spots in the process, and nearly two minutes. It would take another stop in the pits on lap two (when she dropped to 19th) before the problem was finally traced to a loose rear derailleur cable, and Batty was able to get back into the race.
"It was bad luck I guess," said Batty. "I've had a really good year up to now, so this was my turn. But it is really frustrating because I was feeling really, really good today, and as I rode the course more and more this week I was getting into it."
The front three were now set, with the two leaders steadily pulling away from Bresset, while Kathrin Stirnemann (Switzerland), Annie Last (Great Britain) and Barbara Benko (Hungary) battled behind for fourth, although they continued to lose ground on the front three.
On the third lap, Dawidowicz finally dropped Engen for good, and she started the final lap with a lead of 33 seconds, which she stretched to 1:13 by the finish line. Bresset finished 2:31 back.For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com: U23 women and Junior women.
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