By Sue George, Cyclingnews.com
Great Britain's Tracy Moseley finally won the rainbow stripes she has been chasing for the past 13 years at the women's downhill world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, yesterday.
"I've had a long career and I've been trying to win this for many years," said a delighted Moseley, "and I've finally got this white jersey on my shoulders."
She finished ahead of two Frenchwomen – 2010 World Cup winner Sabrina Jonnier and last year's world champion Emmeline Ragot.
"I've been the sole Brit among the French riders for most of the year with Rach (Atherton) out for injury," said Moseley. "I've been the one to have to fight the French. I knew Sabrina is really good on this track, we've been racing together since 1997. It's no surprise for me to find myself amongst these two.
"Mont-Sainte-Anne is one of my favourite courses, but you never know until you actually get to the race. This morning I tried to put all thoughts away. This season I've not been racing as well as I've been practising. My biggest goal today was to put together my perfect race run – to be able to walk away and not feel like I could have done any better."
1995 world champion Leigh Donovan – now a mother and businesswoman, who made a comeback this season – was the first elite woman down the mountain. The 38-year-old was racing women 10 to 20 years her junior, yet she clocked a time of 5:34.05, which held up as 17 more riders made their way down the slope. Donovan's time was good enough to eventually place her in eighth and as the top American
Another former world champion, Rachel Atherton of Great Britain, set the new best time of 5:33.80, but two riders later, she was knocked out of the hot seat by Mio Suemasa (Japan). Myriam Nicole (France) couldn't unseat Suemasa, but Moseley did. She blasted to a time of 5:17.47.
Former world champion Jonnier came within 7.5 seconds, which was good enough for second. Her compatriot Floriane Pugin couldn't go faster and then Ragot, the last woman down the mountain, clocked a time 10.6 seconds slower than Moseley.
Jonnier was disappointed not to win gold, but was happy to take the silver medal. "Mont-Sainte-Anne is my favourite track and I've done well the past few years," she said. "I really wanted to win today, but I had a good season and a good World Cup." She won the overall title last weekend in Windham, New York.
The women faced a course made wet by rain on the previous two days. On the afternoon of the race, intermittent showers kept the track from drying.
"The course was really good during the week when it was dry and since yesterday, it's been raining off and on so this morning, the first flat was really boggy," said Jonnier. "With it raining on and off, it was hard to know what to expect out there."
Ragot may have lost her rainbow jersey, but she said she was content to have had it for the past year and would try again next year. "Yeah, there was pressure coming into today, but I just did the best I could."
Commenting on the strength of the French women's downhill program, especially after two junior women had also medalled earlier in the day, Ragot said: "We have a good federation. We women just fight every time. We push each other."