When Neko Mulally crossed the finish line at the downhill mountain bike world championships in Hafjell, Norway on Sunday afternoon, he never expected to have clocked the fastest time up until that point or to have the best result of his career.
"Unfortunately - and I don't mean to complain - I broke my chain right out of the start," said Mulally. "I guess I changed my mindset because I had nothing to lose and just pinned it."
While his time wasn't good enough to win the Worlds, it was fast enough to give him his best finish at Worlds to date.
"I'm amazed with fourth place. I didn't expect to do this well today. I was hoping to get a top 10. Last year, I was 14th."
Mulally spent quite awhile on the hot seat and for the last few riders, it looked like he might even win a medal. It wasn't until the last rider came down the mountain that Mulally got bumped off the podium into fourth place.
"I was crossing my fingers and was hoping for a medal when it came down to the last five guys, but I couldn't be happier with these circumstances."
The American had a good start to his season with two top 10s at World Cups and a podium finish. He was even ranked fourth in the world.
"Then I had some bad luck after that," he said. "I had some mediocre races and I crashed and flatted to finish off the season, so I ended up 12th in the World Cup, and I really wanted to be top 10. I was pissed off about flatting at the last World Cup."
"But this race was a breath of fresh air. I wasn't worried about the World Cup overall any more and I had nothing to lose."
The race is a good confidence builder for Mulally although he will have to wait until next spring to take on the best men in the world at the next World Cup.
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