British veteran Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate/SRAM) overcame a second-place jinx to win the elite men's downhill event on the final day at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships at Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra, Australia on Sunday.
Peat, 35, has four times been a runner-up in the time trial but on Sunday finally experienced the thrill of donning the rainbow jersey as world champion.
Meanwhile, France's Emmeline Ragot (Suspension Center) won the elite women's downhill from Britain's Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) in second and American Kathleen Pruitt (Jamis) in third.
Riding fourth last in the 63-man field, Peat took the gold medal hot seat from Australian Mick Hannah (GT) and then had to wait as Australian Sam Hill (Specialized/Monster), South African Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate/SRAM) and British defending world champion Gee Atherton (Animal/Commencal) all failed to snatch away the gold.
Peat clocked two minutes, 30.33 seconds on the 2.4 kilometre course to defeat Minnaar, who has won four World Cup events in the last 12 months, by 0.05 seconds, with Hannah overcoming the former two-time champion, Frenchman Fabien Barel (Mondraker/Subaru), by just 0.15 seconds for third.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet. I just tried to dig as deep as I could, after all these years it's just unreal," Peat said. "It was pretty emotional putting on the jersey on the podium knowing I could wear it as world champion for the next year, I've been trying for a long time and it's just an unreal feeling."
Ragot finished third to Britain's Rachel Atherton (Animal/Commencal) and fellow Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier (Rocky Mountain) at last year's world championships but with Atherton out of action recovering from shoulder surgery and Jonnier suffering a puncture during Sunday's final, the way was clear.
Ragot, 23, led at both timing checkpoints to clock 2:50.05 and was a deserved winner.
"I don't think I really realise I am world champion. Then I look down at my jersey and I see the rainbow colours and I think maybe I have won but I think it has started to sink in now," Ragot said.
Jonnier, who has won medals at five other world championships including gold in 2006 and 2007, finished at the tail of the field.
After six days of competition, France topped the medal table with three gold, five silver and three bronze medals ahead of Spain with three gold, two silver and two bronze.
Australia finished third with two gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
© 2009 AFP
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