"I'm glad I qualified. I didn't know what to expect. Making it to the final is super positive, even though I'm a little disappointed with how it turned out at the end of the final," said Gagné afterward.
"In some ways, I was used to the format because I used to compete in swimming where there is a heats and finals format. I think that experience came in handy today. Part of the success was team support and I share that success with everyone. I'm looking forward to the World Cup cross country on Sunday and the Czech World Cup next week."
Dan Proulx, Head Coach of the Canadian Mountain Bike Team, said, "Raphael had a superb race today. He easily controlled each round of the eliminator, doing only what it took to move onto the next round. We were pretty certain that Raphael was capable of the win. Unfortunately all of the riders were pushing the limits of control. In the final turn, Raphael was taken out by another rider."
"Mountain biking is becoming faster, more tactical and more spectacular. We felt that it was important for the entire team to take on this challenge. Our riders learned a lot today. This is one of the best ways to gain experience quickly. It will pay off in the future for our team."
This fourth place marks the top Canadian performance in an eliminator race at the World Cup level. The eliminator race in its second season as a World Cup event, but it is the first year that overall standings are being compiled.
Austrian Daniel Federspiel won the race of this first race of the season, while Thomas Litscher of Switzerland and Miha Halzer of Slovenia took second and third place respectively.
In the women's race, Andréane Lanthier-Nadeau was the top Canadian, finishing in 12th position. "I was really impressed with the field of racers I was up against. After I qualified into the heats, I just had to forget that I was competing against the elite women, said Lanthier-Nadeau, in her second year as a U23 rider.
"In the quarter-final, after a really good start, I clipped out mid-way down the first straight-away. I still tried to get back into the top 2 but there was a lot of aggressive riding and contact, so I ended up third in this round. I finished 12th overall at the end of the day. I'm really happy that we did the eliminator as a team. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race and hope to stay clipped in!"
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