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Van der Heijden wins under 23 cross country world championships

Michiel van der Heijden won a gold medal for the Netherlands on Friday afternoon at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Hafjell, Norway. The Dutch rider attacked to race solo to victory in the under 23 men's cross country ahead of Jordan Sarrou (France) and Howard Grotts (United States).

"If you can take this jersey, it's always a great day," said van der Heijden, clad in his new rainbow stripes. He had done it once before, as a junior at the 2010 Worlds in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada.

Sarrou was mixing it up at the front with Van der Heijden but a flat tire mid-race forced him to stop at the pits and cost him several places at the time.

Grotts had the ride of his life, passing rider after rider until he overtook his final man for the bronze in the last half lap.

How it happened

At the start, it was the New Zealand show with Sam Gaze leading ahead of Anton Cooper. Van der Heijden marked them closely ahead of Sarrou and Great Britain's Grant Ferguson.

"It was my goal to be up front at the start. I knew I could do something good if I did that based on the World Cups this year," said van der Heijden. "It cost a lot to make that happen and I needed a little bit of recovery, but then I started to feel better."

Cooper, on the other hand, soon suffered from the effects of his fast start and could not hang with the leaders.

Sarrou moved the front with Gaze just behind him and van der Heijden immediately after them. Cooper, Ferguson and Jan Vastl (Czech Republic) led the chase. The Czech rider was clawing his way up toward the front.

Coming into the tech zone on lap three of the six-lap race, Sarrou led van der Heijden and Vastl. Gaze was just a bit behind him, the New Zealander pulled out at the tech zone, holding his arm after having crashed according to his obviously torn and dirty kit.

Van der Heijden was clearly feeling good on the climbs and he tended to push the pace going uphill. Sarrou always kept him close, but on lap four through the first tech zone, the French rider stopped for a flat and got a wheel change. That left van der Heijden in the front, alone, with a 20-second gap to Vastl.

For the rest of the race, Van der Heijden was on his own at the front. The 2010 junior world champion had never won an under 23 world title, and he was very aware that this was his last chance.

"I had no time to enjoy my last lap, it was a lot of suffering out there," said van der Heijden.

Behind him, Sarrou was on a mission, working his way back up after his flat from fourth to second, but he could not close on the motivated Van der Heijden.

"I'm satisfied but a little bit disappointed," said Sarrou, who in addition to his flat also was dealing with some back pain that came on after lap one.

Vastl looked like he would hold onto third, but his efforts were to no avail as the charging Grotts was surging forward through the field. After being as far back as 45th on the first climb, Grotts, consistently picked riders off each lap, getting more and more excited as he broke into the top 10, then the top five. At last a bronze medal was in sight and there was no stopping Grotts, who passed Vastl on the final steep climb.

"I had a horrible start after getting tangled up in the woods and people were running everywhere, but I was steady and passing people consistently on the climbs and keeping it steady on the descents," said Grotts who called himself a "poor starter".

"I kept making up time on the leaders. When I saw third place was in sight on the last lap, I gave it everything up the climb to get that medal. It's a medal at the world championships after all ."


Full Results

Under 23 men cross country
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands)1:18:40
2Jordan Sarrou (France)0:00:49
3Howard Grotts (United States Of America)0:01:12
4Jan Vastl (Czech Republic)0:01:28
5Grant Ferguson (Great Britain)0:01:39
6Anton Cooper (New Zealand)0:01:56
7Julian Schelb (Germany)0:02:28
8Leandre Bouchard (Canada)0:02:35
9Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland)0:02:56
10James Reid (South Africa)0:03:16
11Gregor Raggl (Austria)0:03:21
12Titouan Carod (France)0:03:24
13Sondre Kristiansen (Norway)0:04:06
14Pablo Rodriguez Guede (Spain)0:04:15
15Tomas Paprstka (Czech Republic)0:04:16
16Kevin Panhuyzen (Belgium)0:04:37
17Georg Egger (Germany)0:04:57
18Cameron Ivory (Australia)0:05:17
19Arnis Petersons (Latvia)0:05:29
20Victor Koretzky (France)0:05:38
21Luiz Cocuzzi (Brazil)0:05:42
22Axel Lindh (Sweden)0:05:48
23Lars Forster (Switzerland)0:06:07
24Fabian Paumann (Switzerland)0:06:16
25Martin Frey (Germany)0:06:31
26Didier Bats (Belgium)0:06:49
27Florian Chenaux (Switzerland)0:07:07
28Maximilian Vieider (Italy)0:07:27
29Gioele Bertolini (Italy)0:07:40
30Raphael Gay (France)0:07:49
31Mitchell Bailey (Canada)0:08:09
32Oleksiy Zavolokin (Ukraine)0:08:11
33Julien Trarieux (France)0:08:18
34Louis Bendixen (Denmark)
35Lorenzo Samparisi (Italy)0:08:25
36Sepp Kuss (United States Of America)0:08:31
37Jeff Luyten (Belgium)0:08:47
38Peter Disera (Canada)0:09:11
39Andrin Beeli (Switzerland)0:09:19
40Scott Bowden (Australia)0:09:34
41José Pedro Dias (Portugal)0:09:43
42Frantisek Lami (Slovakia)0:09:55
43Bart De Vocht (Belgium)0:09:59
44Marcel Guerrini (Switzerland)0:10:13
45Andrea Righettini (Italy)0:10:21
46Martins Blums (Latvia)0:10:25
47Iain Paton (Great Britain)0:10:45
48Gregor Krajnc (Slovenia)0:10:51
49Chris Hamilton (Australia)0:11:00
50Gert Heyns (South Africa)0:11:38
51Andrey Fonseca (Costa Rica)0:12:00
52Pavel Skalicky (Czech Republic)0:12:52
53Edvard Vea Iversen (Norway)0:13:16
54Ole Hem (Norway)0:15:02
-1lapGoncalo Duarte Amado (Portugal)
-1lapMax Foidl (Austria)
-1lapChristian Pfäffle (Germany)
-1lapKeegan Swenson (United States Of America)
-1lapStefano Valdrighi (Italy)
-1lapToki Sawada (Japan)
-1lapLuis Rojas (Argentina)
-1lapSebastian Carstensen Fini (Denmark)
-1lapEvan Mcneely (Canada)
-1lapNicolas Sessler (Brazil)
-1lapJosé Aurelio Hernandez (Mexico)
-1lapRuslan Boredskiy (Russian Federation)
-1lapEskil Evensen-Lie (Norway)
-1lapBen Forbes (Australia)
-1lapNiels Rasmussen (Denmark)
-1lapYoshitaka Nakahara (Japan)
-2lapsNazaerbieke Bieken (People's Republic of China)
-2lapsArtem Shevtsov (Ukraine)
-3lapsGuy Niv (Israel)
-3lapsFredrik Haraldseth (Norway)
-3lapsEivind Andreas Roed (Norway)
-3lapsRoman Vladykin (Russian Federation)
-3lapsPeteris Janevics (Latvia)
-3lapsBrian Villa (Argentina)
-3lapsWilliam Mokgopo (South Africa)
-3lapsPiotr Konwa (Poland)
-3lapsArtem Aleksndrov (Russian Federation)
-3lapsAlperen Kir (Turkey)
-3lapsHenrik Fiskadal (Norway)
-3lapsTomas Visnovsky (Slovakia)
-3lapsIsak Unal (Turkey)
-3lapsAnton Stepanov (Russian Federation)
-3lapsToni Tähti (Finland)
-3lapsKohei Maeda (Japan)
-3lapsAlvaro Macias (Argentina)
-3lapsAdria Urcelay Tejedor (Andorra)
-4lapsSergey Kovalchuk (Kazakhstan)
DNFSamuel Gaze (New Zealand)
DNFBartlomiej Wawak (Poland)
DNFJeremy Martin (Canada)
DNFWolfgang Soares Olsen (Brazil)
DNFEmil Linde (Sweden)
DNFBrendon Davids (South Africa)
DNFYoshiki Yamada (Japan)
DNSXinyang Liu (People's Republic of China)

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
4Czech Republic226
8United States Of America200
11South Africa158
13Great Britain146
24Russian Federation74
28Costa Rica48
31People?S Republic Of China28


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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.

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