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Christen wins sprint for junior men's title at Cyclo-cross World Championships

Jan Christen won a three-up sprint for the first men’s junior title for Switzerland since 1998 on Saturday at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. He hit the line in Fayetteville just ahead of Aaron Dockx (Belgium), who was second, and Nathan Smith (Great Britain) in third. 

"It was amazing. It wasn't 100 per cent that I can with the sprint. I tried it before too, and it didn't work. So I decided to go all in for the sprint and I was thinking I can beat them. And I did it," Christen said. 

"In the begin I wasn't sure I was strongest but half the race I was sure I could beat them, it's my day and I did it. 

"It's a really nice course, I enjoyed every lap. I was think I had so much fun it helped me win the race.At first I didn't think I could win the sprint and everyone was shouting to me to attack after the steps and I tried it but it didn't work. Aaron was coming behind me and then I was thinking I need to go for the sprint."

The junior men set off under sunny skies and a tricky course that had frozen overnight in the cold temperatures and offered slippery sections in the hairpin turns.

Smith took the hole shot just half a wheel in front of race favourite David Haverdings (Netherlands). Smith took the lead followed with a string of riders on his wheel - Dockx , Frank O’Reilly (United States), Corentin Lequet (France) and Haverdings settling into fifth.

In the early twists of the first lap Christen, the reigning Swiss champion, moved to the front, and Magnus White (United States) joined the front pack as well. After the first lap, Christen continued to set the pace with Smith, Dockx, Haverdings, Lequet and American Jack Spranger. The field began to line out behind, but no major gaps had formed.

On the second lap, race favourite Haverdings unexpectedly hit a rut in a sweeping turn and hit the ground. While he took time to regroup, it caused a delay of Spranger and Christen who were close behind, but did not fall. It created an opportunity for the challengers, with Andrew August (United States) taking to the front with Smith, Dockx and Lequet in tow.

The quartet of riders set the high pace on the third lap - Smith, August, Dockx and Lequet. Only a few seconds in a chase group was Christen, and a trio of Belgian riders Vaktor Vandenberghe, Wies Nuyens  and Yordi Corsus. Soon more chasers were allowed to touch the back of the group for a larger group to form halfway through the race. After the third pass of the 39 Climb, Dockx began to open a small advantage at the front, making Smith and Lequet work hard to keep in touch. 

On the start of the fourth of six laps, Dockx had a few seconds over Smith, with Christen, Lequet, Vandenberghe, Nuyens, Corsus, August and Daniel Nielsen (Norway) just nine seconds off the pace. Just a few turns later heading to the long straightaways in the woods, the line of riders regrouped for another round of technical pack racing.

The chase clearly began to fracture on the penultimate lap, as the trio of Christen, Dockx and Smith joined forces at the front, and rode away for the final sprint. It was a photo finish for the silver, but Smith was content with bronze.

"In the World Cup series it's been quite competitive, especially between me and Aaron at Zolder. It's very different to York it was quite a challenge but it was easy to learn the course, it was not too technical. I think the speed made it more technical. It was a good fun course," he said after the finish.

It was a huge disappointment for Haverdings, who had won 17 races this season and was the top junior from the World Cup season. He managed to finish ninth.

"I didn't come for this result. I made a stupid fault, crashed, and my chain came off. I had to switch bikes," Haverdings said at the finish. "My legs were pretty shit after the crash and I had to find my rhythm. It is what it is. It's unfortunate, life goes on."

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jan Christen (Switzerland) 0:43:11
2Aaron Dockx (Belgium) 0:00:01
3Nathan Smith (Great Britain)
4Corentin Lequet (France) 0:00:20
5Andrew August (United States Of America)
6Viktor Vandenberghe (Belgium) 0:00:33
7Wies Nuyens (Belgium) 0:00:35
8Ian Ackert (Canada) 0:00:39
9David Haverdings (Netherlands) 0:00:41
10Daniel Nielsen (Denmark) 0:00:49
11Yordi Corsus (Belgium)
12Luke Valenti (Canada) 0:00:53
13Jack Spranger (United States Of America)
14Kenay De Moyer (Belgium) 0:00:55
15Luca Paletti (Italy) 0:01:04
16Marcis Shelton (United States Of America) 0:01:09
17Daniel English (United States Of America) 0:01:10
18Václav Ježek (Czech Republic) 0:01:11
19Louka Lesueur (France) 0:01:15
20František Hojka (Czech Republic) 0:01:33
21Gustav Pedersen (Denmark) 0:01:49
22Silas Kuschla (Germany) 0:01:57
23Paul Greijus (Sweden) 0:02:05
24Frank O'Reilly (United States Of America)
25Magnus White (United States Of America) 0:02:06
26Matthias Schwarzbacher (Slovakia) 0:02:19
27Alexander Woodford (Canada)
28Liam O Brien (Ireland) 0:02:53
29Theodore De Groote (Canada) 0:03:23
30Ondřej Novotný (Czech Republic) 0:03:24
31Raul Mira Bonastre (Spain) 0:03:39
32Travis Harkness (Ireland) 0:03:48
33Sasha Renaud Tremblay (Canada) 0:04:32
DNSIvan Gomar Millet (Spain)

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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).

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