By Sue George, Cyclingnews.com
Thursday, September 2, 2010 7.33am
Germany, Czech Republic step on team relay podium
Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic on the team relay podium Rob Jones
After winning the team relay at the European Championships earlier this season, Switzerland added another gold medal to its collection by riding to victory at the team relay at the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, on Wednesday morning. Germany earned the silver medal ahead of the Czech Republic with bronze.
Swiss elite rider Ralph Naef anchored the Swiss team, putting in a powerful final lap to catch all the riders in front of him.
"We're really happy that we could reach our goal, which was to be first," said Naef. "Of course, it's always takes a lot of luck. We are often one of the favorites, but you can't count on winning."
Switzerland started hard with its under 23 rider Thomas Litscher and junior Roger Walderer taking the first two turns. France and Germany took turns leading the chase with Manuel Fumic and Fabien Canal taking the first lap for their respective teams.
Building into lap two, Switzerland dropped back to fourth and Czech powered its way forward through the field with strong pulls from Windham World Cup winner Jaroslav Kulhavy and Ondrej Cink after the nation chose to start with its fastest riders.
Italy also made an appearance in the top five mid-race.
Lap three was the lap that a majority of the nations chose to race their female riders. Katerina Nash led the charge for Czech and despite an early lap crash, she powered the team toward the front while Switzerland's Katrin Leumann, France's elite man Cedric Ravanel and Germany's Sabine Spitz battled just five seconds in arrears.
The United States made it up to fifth and looked poised for a strong final lap from Katie Compton, but the latter crashed and seemed to have a tough time of it during her turn on the circuit.
With one to go, France led Germany, Czech, Switzerland and Canada. The Swiss, who'd saved their elite man for last, watched Naef rocket out of the exchange and start chasing the riders in front of him.
"For me, the goal was to catch all the riders. It was a good track to see where the others were," said Naef. "I wanted to ride perfect. There are many rocks on the course and anyone could flat on the last course."
Naef succeeded in catching everyone and anchored his team en route to gold. Germany finished second with under 23 rider Marcel Fleschhut finishing things off 18 seconds later and Czech's junior Tomas Paprstka cemented his team's third spot 41 seconds after the winner.
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.