By Sue George, Cyclingnews.com
Lauren Rosser won Canada's first rainbow jersey of the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships yesterday morning in the junior women's downhill.
The Canadian blazed to the win in 5:59.55, giving her an almost 14-second margin over her nearest competitor, France's Fanny Lombard. Fellow Frenchwoman Julie Berteaux came third.
"Winning this is the best feeling ever," said a beaming Rosser, who is a first-year junior. "I've never done something this big."
Up until Thursday, Rosser had not given the downhill race much thought. That is because on Wednesday, she raced the junior women's cross-country, an event in which she finished 11th.
"At first, I was focused on the cross-country because that race was first," said Rosser, who became the first Canadian woman to win a junior world championship gold medal. "Everyone else got more runs in because they were focused on the downhill. So I knew I had to race really well today."
Rosser was the second woman down the mountain, and she set the time to beat of 5:59.55. She and the other women faced wet track conditions on a cool, crisp day at Mont-Saint-Anne with intermittent, light rain showers.
Hailing from Squamish, British Columbia, Rosser was okay with the conditions. "I was looking forward to the rain," she said. "Last night, I was thinking, 'I want it to rain'. Out there today, I was having so much fun on the course and around the corners."
Rosser said she was finding unexpected lines as she descended in her race run: "I was looking where I wanted to go, but the bike wasn't wanting to go there. Sometimes it just went where it wanted to go, and I discovered new lines.
"My run was great though I didn't know at the start that it would be a good one. I had a couple of spots where I thought I was going to crash and I didn't crash. After I got a little squirrelly, I thought, 'Get back in the zone and back it off a little'."
Lombard rode to a solid second place after a slightly "unsatisfying" start. "I expected the course to be a little drier," she said. "It was wetter than I thought and with more mud, so I had to pedal more." The runner-up had the fourth fastest split early on in the race but gained time later in the course, where she had more friends and her coach cheering.
Berteaux, who also raced the junior women's cross country earlier in the week, rode to third place about 20 seconds behind Rosser. "With two French riders on the podium, we're satisfied but, of course, we'd have liked to be on top of the podium," she said.
"There are many races in the French Cup, and there are lot of good elite riders so we juniors are motivated to chase after them," said Berteaux by way of explaining why the French always do so well internationally. She said she would focus more on cross-country in future.