Carpenter surprises herself with downhill world title

First elite championship for former junior champion

Manon Carpenter surprised herself with a win in the elite women's downhill race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships on Sunday. The British rider had wrestled with parts of the track all week.

"I struggled to get into it this weekend, especially in the top rock garden, then I had a good race run," she said to Cyclingnews. "I didn't think I could win on this track. In that flat out rock garden, you have to ride through with no brakes, and I like to be in control, but then you're not in control - like you can't stop if you want to."

She narrowly beat favorite and British country woman Rachel Atherton for the gold medal.

"When you win the rainbow stripes, you've got them forever," said Carpenter. "I will wear the rainbow jersey next year - I didn't think about that until a few minutes after I won."

Carpenter said that at the start, she was trying to think about all the races where she'd felt good and aggressive and did well. "I was thinking about Leogang and Mont-Sainte-Anne and Andorra - anything but Norway until the beeps went."

A good season and a second title

It was a stellar season for the young British woman.

"Winning the World Cup and the Worlds is more than I expected at the start of this year," said Carpenter. "This winter I thought I just wanted to win a couple of races."

She ended up with the two biggest achievements in downhill racing.

The world title was her first elite title and her second total when added to the junior downhill title she won in Champery, Switzerland in 2011.

This victory was quite different for her than her win as a junior. "I'd expected to win in Champery and it was a relief when I did, especially because I had such a chaotic race run. This one, I didn't expect. I didn't think I could do it on this track."

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