Swiss team storms to first gold

After winning the team relay at the European Championships earlier this season, Switzerland added another gold medal to its collection by riding to victory at the team relay at the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, on Wednesday morning. Germany earned the silver medal ahead of the Czech Republic with bronze.

Swiss elite rider Ralph Naef anchored the Swiss team, putting in a powerful final lap to catch all the riders in front of him.

"We're really happy that we could reach our goal, which was to be first," said Naef. "Of course, it's always takes a lot of luck. We are often one of the favorites, but you can't count on winning."

Switzerland started hard with its under 23 rider Thomas Litscher and junior Roger Walderer taking the first two turns. France and Germany took turns leading the chase with Manuel Fumic and Fabien Canal taking the first lap for their respective teams.

Building into lap two, Switzerland dropped back to fourth and Czech powered its way forward through the field with strong pulls from Windham World Cup winner Jaroslav Kulhavy and Ondrej Cink after the nation chose to start with its fastest riders.

Italy also made an appearance in the top five mid-race.

Lap three was the lap that a majority of the nations chose to race their female riders. Katerina Nash led the charge for Czech and despite an early lap crash, she powered the team toward the front while Switzerland's Katrin Leumann, France's elite man Cedric Ravanel and Germany's Sabine Spitz battled just five seconds in arrears.

The United States made it up to fifth and looked poised for a strong final lap from Katie Compton, but the latter crashed and seemed to have a tough time of it during her turn on the circuit.

With one to go, France led Germany, Czech, Switzerland and Canada. The Swiss, who'd saved their elite man for last, watched Naef rocket out of the exchange and start chasing the riders in front of him.

"For me, the goal was to catch all the riders. It was a good track to see where the others were," said Naef. "I wanted to ride perfect. There are many rocks on the course and anyone could flat on the last course."

Naef succeeded in catching everyone and anchored his team en route to gold. Germany finished second with under 23 rider Marcel Fleschhut finishing things off 18 seconds later and Czech's junior Tomas Paprstka cemented his team's third spot 41 seconds after the winner.

Spitz was delighted with her team's silver medal and joked that she'd never had any luck in the event and that she'd told the team before the start that it would be her last one. Then she explained the real reason she has hung in there to participate in so many team relays. "The relay is important for me to get information for the main event, the cross country coming up." The silver was her first team relay medal at worlds. "It's a big day for us."

Nash elaborated on her Czech team's strategy. "We had a strong team on paper and decided to build a team in that order. I think it worked out well for us - we saved our junior for last. All of our guys are super fast."

While the Swiss riders acknowledged that they had prepared together in advance for the event, the Czechs said the race was the first time there were together. "Our teams always change, especially because the juniors always change."

The hosts team, Canada, finished eighth while the United States was ninth.

USA Cycling's Mark Gullickson talked to Cyclingnews after the race about the US team's strategy. "We sent our faster guys off first with Todd (Wells), who unfortunately didn't get a front row start, and the race went into singletrack really quickly." In fact, the riders barely had their feet in the pedals before they did an effective U-turn into the singletrack with no passing. The team relay start differed from that planned for the cross country.

"Things just didn't work out today. In the past, when we've run slowest to fastest, it hasn't worked out. I think one of our fastest guys needs to go out first to keep us in contention. Wells got behind after not starting on the first row and we lost time, and I think Katie might have gone down, too."

Race notes

Russia was the only team to start with its elite woman, defending world champion Irina Kalentieva. The team finished sixth.

France, the United States and Canada all took the opposite approach and sent their elite women out for the last lap.

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
Row 1 - Cell 0 Thomas Litscher (MU)0:15:37
Row 2 - Cell 0 Roger Walder (MJ)0:16:19
Row 3 - Cell 0 Katrin Leumann (WE)0:18:33
Row 4 - Cell 0 Ralph Naef (ME)0:15:31
Row 6 - Cell 0 Manuel Fumic (ME)0:15:29
Row 7 - Cell 0 Julian Schelb (MJ)0:16:27
Row 8 - Cell 0 Sabine Spitz (WE)0:17:58
Row 9 - Cell 0 Marcel Fleschhut (MU)0:16:24
3Czech Republic1:06:41
Row 11 - Cell 0 Jaroslav Kulhavy (ME)0:15:34
Row 12 - Cell 0 Ondrej Cink (MU)0:15:57
Row 13 - Cell 0 Katerina Nash (WE)0:18:34
Row 14 - Cell 0 Tomas Paprstka (MJ)0:16:36
Row 16 - Cell 0 Fabien Canal (MU)0:15:57
Row 17 - Cell 0 Julien Trarieux (MJ)0:17:08
Row 18 - Cell 0 Cédric Ravanel (ME)0:15:34
Row 19 - Cell 0 Cécile Ravanel (WE)0:18:23
Row 21 - Cell 0 Marco Aurelio Fontana (ME)0:15:28
Row 22 - Cell 0 Maximilian Vieider (MJ)0:17:28
Row 23 - Cell 0 Eva Lechner (WE)0:18:37
Row 24 - Cell 0 Gerhard Kerschbaumer (MU)0:16:22
6Russian Federation1:08:16
Row 26 - Cell 0 Irina Kalentieva (WE)0:18:49
Row 27 - Cell 0 Sergey Nikolaev (MU)0:16:36
Row 28 - Cell 0 Anton Stepanov (MJ)0:17:08
Row 29 - Cell 0 Evgeniy Pechenin (ME)0:15:43
Row 31 - Cell 0 Marco Minnaard (MU)0:16:53
Row 32 - Cell 0 Rudi Van Houts (ME)0:16:12
Row 33 - Cell 0 Laura Turpijn (WE)0:19:28
Row 34 - Cell 0 Michiel Van Der Heijden (MJ)0:16:10
Row 36 - Cell 0 Max Plaxton (ME)0:16:05
Row 37 - Cell 0 Francis Morin (MU)0:17:25
Row 38 - Cell 0 Antoine Caron (MJ)0:16:59
Row 39 - Cell 0 Mical Dyck (WE)0:19:24
9United States Of America1:10:42
Row 41 - Cell 0 Todd Wells (ME)0:16:04
Row 42 - Cell 0 Robbie Squire (MU)0:16:58
Row 43 - Cell 0 Seth Kemp (MJ)0:17:57
Row 44 - Cell 0 Katherine Compton (WE)0:19:43
Row 46 - Cell 0 Jose Maria Sanchez Ruiz (MU)0:17:57
Row 47 - Cell 0 Antonio Santos Ridao (MJ)0:18:16
Row 48 - Cell 0 Anna Villar Argente (WE)0:19:49
Row 49 - Cell 0 José Antonio Hermida Ramos (ME)0:14:56
11South Africa1:12:09
Row 51 - Cell 0 Burry Stander (ME)0:15:41
Row 52 - Cell 0 Yolande Speedy (WE)0:22:14
Row 53 - Cell 0 Philip Buys (MU)0:16:57
Row 54 - Cell 0 James Reid (MJ)0:17:17
Row 56 - Cell 0 Lachlan Norris (ME)0:16:50
Row 57 - Cell 0 Trenton Day (MJ)0:17:56
Row 58 - Cell 0 Rowena Fry (WE)0:20:52
Row 59 - Cell 0 Cameron Ivory (MJ)0:17:44
Row 61 - Cell 0 Christoph Soukup (ME)0:19:30
Row 62 - Cell 0 Gregor Raggl (MJ)0:18:02
Row 63 - Cell 0 Maria Osl (WE)0:20:08
Row 64 - Cell 0 Alexander Gehbauer (MU)0:16:08
Row 66 - Cell 0 Kyosuke Takei (ME)0:17:27
Row 67 - Cell 0 Yu Takenouchi (MU)0:17:00
Row 68 - Cell 0 Rie Katayama (WE)0:19:54
Row 69 - Cell 0 Idomu Yamamoto (MJ)0:19:51
Row 71 - Cell 0 Michal Lami (ME)0:16:48
Row 72 - Cell 0 Frantisek Lami (MJ)0:17:54
Row 73 - Cell 0 Janka Stevkova (WE)0:20:33
Row 74 - Cell 0 Jozef Bebcak (MJ)0:19:01
Row 76 - Cell 0 Michael Northcott (ME)0:17:48
Row 77 - Cell 0 Brad Hudson (MJ)0:17:46
Row 78 - Cell 0 Nicola Leary (WE)0:20:51
Row 79 - Cell 0 Carl Jones (MU)0:18:05
Row 81 - Cell 0 Rotem Ishai (ME)0:17:32
Row 82 - Cell 0 Shaked Frank (MJ)0:20:00
Row 83 - Cell 0 Noga Korem (WU)0:20:36
Row 84 - Cell 0 Shlomi Haimy (MU)0:16:24
DNFSweden 9Row 85 - Cell 2
Row 86 - Cell 0 Magnus Darvell (ME)0:15:58
Row 87 - Cell 0 Tomas Kristoffersson (MJ)0:17:31
Row 88 - Cell 0 Alexandra Engen (WU)Row 88 - Cell 2
Row 89 - Cell 0 Mattias Wengelin (MU)Row 89 - Cell 2
DNSBrazilRow 90 - Cell 2
Row 91 - Cell 0 Sherman Paiva (MU)Row 91 - Cell 2
Row 92 - Cell 0 Roberta Kelly Stopa (WE)Row 92 - Cell 2
Row 93 - Cell 0 Luiz Cocuzzi (MJ)Row 93 - Cell 2
Row 94 - Cell 0 Ricardo Pscheidt (ME)Row 94 - Cell 2


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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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