Skip to main content

Wloszczowska wins gold for Poland

Image 1 of 41

Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) is ecstatic about her win in the women's cross country world championship.

Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) is ecstatic about her win in the women's cross country world championship. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
Image 2 of 41

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) finishing fifth

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) finishing fifth (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 3 of 41

Willow Koerber (USA) lets her big wheeled bike do the work

Willow Koerber (USA) lets her big wheeled bike do the work (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 4 of 41

Willow Koerber (USA) smokes a technical descent

Willow Koerber (USA) smokes a technical descent (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 5 of 41

Kate Potter (Australia) decides it was faster to run the "A" line of the most dangerous descent

Kate Potter (Australia) decides it was faster to run the "A" line of the most dangerous descent (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 6 of 41

Heather Irmiger (USA) on the starting line

Heather Irmiger (USA) on the starting line (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 7 of 41

Last season's World Cup champion Elisabeth Osl (Austria)

Last season's World Cup champion Elisabeth Osl (Austria) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 8 of 41

Crowd favorite Marie-Helene Premont (Canada)

Crowd favorite Marie-Helene Premont (Canada) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 9 of 41

The elite women's start on pavement

The elite women's start on pavement (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 10 of 41

Katrin Leumann (Switzerland) has been a terrific starter this year

Katrin Leumann (Switzerland) has been a terrific starter this year (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 11 of 41

Marie-Helene Premont (Canada) on the uphill switchbacks

Marie-Helene Premont (Canada) on the uphill switchbacks (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 12 of 41

Former world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa rides to 18th place today

Former world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa rides to 18th place today (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 13 of 41

Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) wins the world championship

Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) wins the world championship (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 14 of 41

Irina Kalentieva (Russia), by finishing second, is not able to repeat as champion

Irina Kalentieva (Russia), by finishing second, is not able to repeat as champion (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 15 of 41

Willow Koerber (United States) edges out Catherine Pendrel (Canada) for third place

Willow Koerber (United States) edges out Catherine Pendrel (Canada) for third place (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 16 of 41

Mary McConneloug and Willow Koerber represented the United States on the front row today

Mary McConneloug and Willow Koerber represented the United States on the front row today (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 17 of 41

The women's race made a left hand turn almost immediately after the start

The women's race made a left hand turn almost immediately after the start (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 18 of 41

Catherine Pendrel (Canada) rides in second place on the start loop

Catherine Pendrel (Canada) rides in second place on the start loop (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 19 of 41

Irina Katentieva (Russia) rides in third on the start loop

Irina Katentieva (Russia) rides in third on the start loop (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 20 of 41

Heather Irmiger has one of her best starts in international competition

Heather Irmiger has one of her best starts in international competition (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 21 of 41

Sabine Spitz (Germany) rides to an eighth place finish

Sabine Spitz (Germany) rides to an eighth place finish (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 22 of 41

of the many breakaways during the stage.

of the many breakaways during the stage. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 23 of 41

Willow Koerber (USA) being chased by Kalentieva

Willow Koerber (USA) being chased by Kalentieva (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 24 of 41

Irina Kalentieva (Russia) has no trouble in the rocks and roots

Irina Kalentieva (Russia) has no trouble in the rocks and roots (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 25 of 41

Elisabeth Osl (Austria) is off her bike quite a bit today

Elisabeth Osl (Austria) is off her bike quite a bit today (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 26 of 41

Eva Lechner (Italy) gets off to a fast start but drifted back to 10th position

Eva Lechner (Italy) gets off to a fast start but drifted back to 10th position (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 27 of 41

Mary McConneloug (USA) loves to ride courses that are muddy and technical

Mary McConneloug (USA) loves to ride courses that are muddy and technical (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 28 of 41

Katrin Laumann (Switzerland) runs with her bike

Katrin Laumann (Switzerland) runs with her bike (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 29 of 41

Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) with a 10-second lead on the field

Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) with a 10-second lead on the field (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 30 of 41

Catherine Pendrel (Canada) tries to chase down Maja Wloszczowska (Poland)

Catherine Pendrel (Canada) tries to chase down Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 31 of 41

Willow Koerber (USA) uses her patented low climbing style

Willow Koerber (USA) uses her patented low climbing style (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 32 of 41

Willow Koerber (USA) riding her 29-inch bike up the switchbacks

Willow Koerber (USA) riding her 29-inch bike up the switchbacks (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 33 of 41

Olympic Champion Sabine Spitz (Germany) is quite competitive today after starting the season injured.

Olympic Champion Sabine Spitz (Germany) is quite competitive today after starting the season injured. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 34 of 41

Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) crosses a wooden bridge with the lead

Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) crosses a wooden bridge with the lead (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 35 of 41

Elisabeth Osl (Austria) leads a long train of riders down some switchbacks

Elisabeth Osl (Austria) leads a long train of riders down some switchbacks (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 36 of 41

Heather Irmiger (USA) tries to crack the top five

Heather Irmiger (USA) tries to crack the top five (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 37 of 41

Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) rides the big rocks

Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) rides the big rocks (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 38 of 41

Maja Wloszcowska (Poland) stumbles while running down the most treacherous descent.

Maja Wloszcowska (Poland) stumbles while running down the most treacherous descent. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 39 of 41

Maja Wloszcowska (Poland) leading in the woods on lap two.

Maja Wloszcowska (Poland) leading in the woods on lap two. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 40 of 41

Maja Wloszcowska (Poland) rounding the uphill switchbacks with one lap to go.

Maja Wloszcowska (Poland) rounding the uphill switchbacks with one lap to go. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 41 of 41

Maja Wloszcowska (Poland) wins the World Championship in convincing style.

Maja Wloszcowska (Poland) wins the World Championship in convincing style. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)

The elite women put on a show that wowed the fans lining the course at the cross country world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, on Saturday morning. In what was the most exciting race of the weekend thus far, Poland's Maja Wloszczowska rode to her first-ever elite gold medal in a brave, solo ride. Behind her, a chaotic final half-lap decided the remaining medal spots. In the end, Irina Kalentieva (Russia) finished second while Willow Koerber (United States) made a bold final pass of Canada's Catharine Pendrel in the final meters to take bronze for the second consecutive year.

"It feels amazing. I still can't believe it. It was my dream to win the world championships," said Wloszczowska, wearing her new rainbow-striped jersey. Wloszczowska, who'd twice previously won a silver medal at Worlds, had made an important decision; she skipped last week's final World Cup in Windham, New York, to focus on today's race. It paid off as she had had more time to practice the technical sections of the course in advance of the race and was mentally and physically fresher.

Wloszczowska went to the front of a very competitive race with 3.5 to go of 5.5 total laps. For a time, she dangled off the front with about a 15-second gap, but by two to go, she'd extended it to 30 seconds. Barring catastrophe, it looked the like the gold would be hers.

"I knew that the course was very technical, and it's good to have some gaps to be allowed to make some mistakes," said the winner, who'd broken away on a climb. "I tried to save some power for the last lap, which was very hard. I was afraid of getting caught."

Wloszczowska crossed the line solo, ending up with a 48-second gap, while behind her three women fought for the remaining medals. It was too bad there weren't medals left for each of them, given how they all fought so valiantly.

Koerber was always near the front of the race and with 1.5 laps to go, she was on her own in second after passing Pendrel, who'd had a super fast start. At 10 to 20 seconds, Koerber's second place looked good, but was by no means secure, especially with last year's world champion Kalentieva and Pendrel, a newly crowned 2010 World Cup champion, hot on her tail.

With about 10 minutes left to go, Koerber's likely silver medal was suddenly gone.

Riders had awoken to pouring rain early in the day and while it didn't rain for much of the race, the course, which had been dry and dusty all week, was wet but not muddy.  It wasn't too slippery, but required lazer-like focus to pick and hold lines as the race wore on.

Nearing the top of the rock garden section, Koerber slipped and fell. "It was the last half lap, and we were all getting tired," said Koerber. "I was really exhausted. I didn't mess up on the hard section of the downhill, It was just before. I slipped and got stuck in the fencing at the top. My pedal got caught on a wooden stake. I was like 'Get me out of here!'"

"I thought, 'I can't go into this downhill all flustered'. You start to get dizzy out there when you're giving it your all. That can be a good thing, but you have to be careful."

The ever consistent Pendrel seized the opportunity and rode past Koerber. Pendrel took the "A" line on the notoriously rocky downhill section, moving herself into second place from third.

"I had had a big gap and I was kind of panicking because I'd lost the entire gap I'd worked so hard for," said Koerber.

On an immediately following grinder of a climb, Kalentieva passed both Pendrel and Koerber as all three riders slipped and dabbed, completely spent as they each pushed with every last ounce of strength.

"I gave everything I had on that last climb," said the Russian. "I'm happy with silver. Of course, I wanted to win. I was second her last year at the World Cup and had come early to prepare on the technical sections."

"Everything" was enough for the silver. That left Pendrel and Koerber to fight for bronze with less than five minutes of racing remaining.

"It was one of the hardest races I've ever done in my life. The pace was fast from the start, and I had an awesome start. Willow and Irina were always yo yo'ing with me," said Pendrel. "It came down to seconds between silver and fourth. That last lap was full of possibilities."

Pendrel seemed to have it, and then something super competitive inside Koerber took over.

"My boyfriend Myles was on the right as I passed him and he said, 'Don't give up on a medal." I was almost in tears thinking 'what just happened?" I'd gone from silver to fourth. He could see the pain in my eyes, and I was fighting as hard as I could."

"I got inspired to make that final pass before the last flyer," said Koerber. "I'm not sure how I did it. I just got fire from somewhere and saw red and attacked. It was close." Koerber's third placed matched her third place of last year at worlds in Canberra.

Pendrel was fourth. "I had one bad corner and it was enough to lose the bronze, but it was still my best worlds and I'll keep moving toward a podium," said Pendrel, who noted the role the crowds had played. "It was unreal out there. It was the loudest world championships I've ever been to."

Two minutes after the winner, Elisabeth Osl (Austria) crossed the line on her own for fifth place.

"The race was very hard, and the key was to be consistent from beginning to end," said Osl. "It was important to not go over the top at the beginning, to take good lines and not risk too much. I had a bad crash in the second lap. At the beginning, I was near Marie Helen Premont (Canada), and everyone was screaming so loud. They weren't calling my name, but it was still motivation. She is an idol to me and I look up to her. It was amazing to be with her in the race."

The American women had a stellar day with Heather Irmiger also finishing in sixth place and Mary McConneloug finishing in 13th.

"I felt really good," said a very pumped Irmiger, flashing a big smile after finishing. "It wasn't slippery. It didn't feel sketchy at all. I skipped the rock section every time. The one time I decided to ride it, someone crashed. I'm so stoked to have been up there doing an awesome ride for the USA. The American women are ruling."

McConneloug agreed that the course was riding well, but she'd had a disconcerting experience early in the race that had shaken her. "I got clocked by the Italian Eva Lechner. She hit me in the face on the end of the second lap. I was trying to pass her in the singletrack, and I came around her and she tried to block me. I got by her and that's when she hit me in the face. I may need to talk to a UCI official about that. It's not fair play."  Otherwise, McConneloug said she'd enjoyed the chance to race such a good course.

Local favorite Premont finished in ninth place to extraordinarily loud cheers by her loyal fans.

 

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Maja Wloszczowska (Poland)1:48:21
2Irina Kalentieva (Russian Federation)0:00:48
3Willow Koerber (United States Of America)0:00:52
4Catharine Pendrel (Canada)0:00:54
5Elisabeth Osl (Austria)0:02:00
6Heather Irmiger (United States Of America)0:02:03
7Anna Szafraniec (Poland)0:02:16
8Sabine Spitz (Germany)0:02:32
9Marie-Helene Premont (Canada)0:02:43
10Eva Lechner (Italy)0:02:57
11Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland)0:03:43
12Marielle Saner-Guinchard (Switzerland)0:04:32
13Mary Mcconneloug (United States Of America)0:04:50
14Katrin Leumann (Switzerland)0:05:31
15Chengyuan Ren (People's Republic of China)0:06:34
16Katerina Nash (Czech Republic)0:07:00
17Rosara Joseph (New Zealand)0:07:17
18Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway)0:07:18
19Annika Langvad (Denmark)0:08:42
20Cécile Ravanel (France)0:08:54
21Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Poland)0:09:53
22Esther Süss (Switzerland)0:10:22
23Anja Gradl (Germany)0:10:29
24Rie Katayama (Japan)0:10:39
25Hanna Klein (Germany)0:12:04
26Qinglan Shi (People's Republic of China)0:12:31
27Margarita Fullana Riera (Spain)0:12:33
28Amanda Sin (Canada)0:12:44
29Mical Dyck (Canada)0:13:25
30Nina Homovec (Slovenia)0:13:28
31Anna Villar Argente (Spain)0:13:55
32Sabrina Enaux (France)0:14:08
33Laura Turpijn (Netherlands)0:14:38
34Janka Stevkova (Slovakia)0:15:14
35Elisabeth Brandau (Germany)0:15:24
36Ying Liu (People's Republic of China)0:16:10
37Nataliya Krompets (Ukraine)0:16:49
38Laura Lorenza Morfin Macouzet (Mexico)0:16:57
39Daniela Veronesi (San Marino)0:17:18
40Jean Ann Mckirdy (Canada)0:18:10
41Georgia Gould (United States Of America)0:20:04
42Catherine Vipond (Canada)0:20:40
-1lapSandra Walter (Canada)
-1lapRowena Fry (Australia)
-1lapOksana Rybakova (Russian Federation)
-1lapHeather Logie (Australia)
-1lapYolande Speedy (South Africa)
-1lapFiona Macdermid (New Zealand)
-1lapKelli Emmett (United States Of America)
-2lapsAllison Mann (United States Of America)
-2lapsAngela Parra (Colombia)
-2lapsKate Potter (Australia)
-2lapsKatherine O'shea (Australia)
-2lapsJennifer Smith (New Zealand)
-2lapsViviana Andrea Maya Tabares (Colombia)
-2lapsNicola Leary (New Zealand)
-2lapsTereza Hurikova (Czech Republic)
-3lapsInbar Ronen (Israel)
-3lapsCarla Salgado Gonzalez (Mexico)
-4lapsMaaris Meier (Estonia)
DNFMaria Osl (Austria)
DNFSarah Koba (Switzerland)
DNFMagdalena Sadlecka (Poland)
DNFKatherine Compton (United States Of America)
DNFBlaza Klemencic (Slovenia)
DNFRocio Gamonal Ferrera (Spain)
DNFRoberta Kelly Stopa (Brazil)

 

Latest on Cyclingnews