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Julian Schelb (Germany), Marek Konwa (Poland) and Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic) at the front at the start of the U23 men's race
Czech racer earns rainbow strips in Saalfelden, Austria
Ondrej Cink capped off a great season on Friday afternoon by winning the under 23 men's cross country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Saalfelden, Australia. Earlier this year, he won the European U23 Championships and two U23 World Cups, one in Houffalize and one in Nove Mesto.
"I had hoped for victory today. I concentrated on this date and I'm happy to meet my goal," said Cink, who will move into the elite ranks in 2013. "I trained very hard and wanted to finish my time in the U23 category with such a good result, although I think winning today was more than I had expected before this season."
For much of the race, Cink chased race leader Michael van der Heijden (Netherlands), but as the race progressed, Cink got stronger and stronger as the Dutch rider started to fatigue.
"When Michael attacked, I thought the race was over, but when I saw him on the flats, I knew I could catch him," said Cink. "I had also expected Alexander Gehbauer (Austria) to be strong, but he had a flat tire."
Cink, who races for the Merida Biking Team, has spent some time with another World Champion from the Czech Republic: Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized). When asked about their relationship, he told Cyclingnews, "Jaroslav is a different rider than me, but I'm happy to have joined him in training on this course. Jaroslav is a world champion and an Olympic champion, and I'd like to do the same as him, but I have to follow my own way."