MTB World's 1: French top team relay

Slippery opening relay in Val di Sole

In a show of dominance, the French led from during the first until the last lap for victory in the team relay. Pre-race favourite and 2007 World Champions Switzerland finished second, and home team Italy captured third place.

The on and off again rain started up again just in time for the start of the relay and racers faced a slick track with thick mud in sections after plenty of racers pre-rode the wet course this morning. Each team sent one rider after another out for a lap - for a total of four laps.

After Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud won the first lap battle with Switzerland's Florian Vogel for the lead, France led for the rest of the race and finished in a final time of 1:24:45 and with a winning margin of 2:23.

"The start of the race was particularly challenging with the Swiss team right there," said Peraud after the finish.

"I wasn't strong enough," said Vogel candidly. "When Jean-Christophe Peraud dropped me on the last uphill [on the opening lap], it was mental. I didn't have the legs to follow him."

For France, Arnaud Jouffroy, Laurence Leboucher and Alexis Vuillermoz raced laps two through four. Each tried to maintain and when possible grow the team's winning margin. Matthias Rupp, Petra Henzi and Nino Schurter followed Vogel for the Swiss.

"Except for Nino [Schurter], the rest of us didn't have the best day," said Vogel. "The best we could do was second."

"I was stressed at the beginning as the person doing the fourth lap," said Vuillermoz of the pressure he felt as the French team's anchor. "But I put in a good race." In fact, he grew the French lead from 15 seconds with one lap to go to over two minutes during his effort.

The team standings shuffled each lap as many chose different start orders for their elite man, elite woman, U23 man and junior man. A majority of teams raced their fastest racers, their elite men first, although notably, the American team was the only one to send their elite woman, Georgia Gould, first. That put the American squad in second-last position after lap one and the remaining team members worked to move the US up the ranks - a strategy they successfully deployed in 2007, but netted them only eighth today. Nonetheless, anchor leg Adam Craig, who said he was looking forward to the conditions while waiting in the ready area for his turn, put in a strong effort for the second fastest lap of the day (19:49).

Showing his form, Liam Killeen logged the fastest lap of the day in 19:32 as the third rider for Great Britain, while Peraud's opening lap was good enough for third fastest lap (19:55).

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.

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