Cross-country riders had their first opportunity on Wednesday at the world championships in Vallnord, Andorra, to test out the race course with the Team Relay competition. France retained the title they had won last year, but were put under pressure by a surprisingly strong team from Denmark. Italy finished third.
23 countries lined up for the Team Relay, with each country entering four riders - one each from elite men, elite women, U23 men and junior men - who would each do a lap of the 4.2 kilometre cross-country circuit. Countries can send the riders off in whichever order they desire, but the majority of top teams start with their faster riders (Elite or Under 23 man), and run their female competitor in the third slot.
Italy, Switzerland and France immediately opened a gap on the rest of the field, with Florian Vogel giving Switzerland a seven second lead over Italy and nine seconds over France. Denmark was sitting fourth at this point, with a remarkable ride from the reigning Junior world champion for cross-country and cyclo-cross, Simon Andreassen.
On the second lap France took the lead with Jordan Sarrou overtaking Swiss woman Jolanda Neff. France would keep the lead to the finish, while Neff would fall back to 13th, racing mostly among Elite and Under 23 men. Denmark moved up to third on this lap, behind Italy.
Lap 3 saw France's Pauline Ferrand-Prevot manage to hold off a strong challenge by Denmark's Annika Langvad to hand off to Junior man Antoine Philipp, who came in 24 seconds ahead of Denmark's Sebastian Carstensen Fini. Italy, who had dropped to fourth after the third lap, recovered to take bronze.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot had a scare before her lap, explaining "During my warm up I crashed [she had a bandage on her chin when she raced], so I was kind of panicked to start. I just tried to calm and not risk our medal. At the start I tried not to overpace myself, so I felt good [later in the lap] and could go harder. I am pleased to keep the jersey."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|11||United States Of America||0:02:49|
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