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Swiss team storms to first gold

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Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic on the team relay podium

Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic on the team relay podium (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Tomas Paprstka takes the bronze for the Czech Republic

Tomas Paprstka takes the bronze for the Czech Republic (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jose Hermida heads out on the final lap for Spain

Jose Hermida heads out on the final lap for Spain (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Gold medal winners

Gold medal winners (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Switzerland leads the team relay en route to victory.

Switzerland leads the team relay en route to victory. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Italy's Marco Aurelio Fontana

Italy's Marco Aurelio Fontana (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Czech Republic's Jaroslav Kulhavy

Czech Republic's Jaroslav Kulhavy (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Canada's Max Plaxton

Canada's Max Plaxton (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Julian Schelb (Germany) sets out

Julian Schelb (Germany) sets out (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Thomas Litscher (Switzerland) hands off

Thomas Litscher (Switzerland) hands off (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Burry Stander (South Africa) hands off

Burry Stander (South Africa) hands off (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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USA's Robbie Squire sets off

USA's Robbie Squire sets off (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Canada's Francis Morin

Canada's Francis Morin (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Irina Kalentieva was the first rider for Russia

Irina Kalentieva was the first rider for Russia (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Sabine Spitz (Germany) waits to start

Sabine Spitz (Germany) waits to start (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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The Czech Republic was second at the end of lap two

The Czech Republic was second at the end of lap two (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) heads out

Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) heads out (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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The Swiss and Germans were neck and neck

The Swiss and Germans were neck and neck (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Eva Lechner was the third rider for Italy

Eva Lechner was the third rider for Italy (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Seth Kemp was third rider for the USA

Seth Kemp was third rider for the USA (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Antoine Caron was rider number three for Canada

Antoine Caron was rider number three for Canada (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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South Africa's Yolande Speedy crashed

South Africa's Yolande Speedy crashed (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Switzerland's anchor Ralph Näf heads to the gate

Switzerland's anchor Ralph Näf heads to the gate (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Marcel Fleschhut was the anchor for Germany

Marcel Fleschhut was the anchor for Germany (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Tomas Paprstka was the anchor for the Czech Republic

Tomas Paprstka was the anchor for the Czech Republic (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Katerina Nash crashed early in her lap.

Katerina Nash crashed early in her lap. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Ralph Näf (Switzerland) and Mical Dyck (Canada) head out at the same time

Ralph Näf (Switzerland) and Mical Dyck (Canada) head out at the same time (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Anna Villar Argente (Spain) hands off the Jose Antonio Hermida

Anna Villar Argente (Spain) hands off the Jose Antonio Hermida (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Congratulations

Congratulations (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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The Swiss team makes an exchange

The Swiss team makes an exchange (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Ralph Naef crosses the finish and takes the win for Switzerland

Ralph Naef crosses the finish and takes the win for Switzerland (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

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

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Switzerland1:06:00
Thomas Litscher (MU)0:15:37
Roger Walder (MJ)0:16:19
Katrin Leumann (WE)0:18:33
Ralph Naef (ME)0:15:31
2Germany1:06:18
Manuel Fumic (ME)0:15:29
Julian Schelb (MJ)0:16:27
Sabine Spitz (WE)0:17:58
Marcel Fleschhut (MU)0:16:24
3Czech Republic1:06:41
Jaroslav Kulhavy (ME)0:15:34
Ondrej Cink (MU)0:15:57
Katerina Nash (WE)0:18:34
Tomas Paprstka (MJ)0:16:36
4France1:07:02
Fabien Canal (MU)0:15:57
Julien Trarieux (MJ)0:17:08
Cédric Ravanel (ME)0:15:34
Cécile Ravanel (WE)0:18:23
5Italy1:07:55
Marco Aurelio Fontana (ME)0:15:28
Maximilian Vieider (MJ)0:17:28
Eva Lechner (WE)0:18:37
Gerhard Kerschbaumer (MU)0:16:22
6Russian Federation1:08:16
Irina Kalentieva (WE)0:18:49
Sergey Nikolaev (MU)0:16:36
Anton Stepanov (MJ)0:17:08
Evgeniy Pechenin (ME)0:15:43
7Netherlands1:08:43
Marco Minnaard (MU)0:16:53
Rudi Van Houts (ME)0:16:12
Laura Turpijn (WE)0:19:28
Michiel Van Der Heijden (MJ)0:16:10
8Canada1:09:53
Max Plaxton (ME)0:16:05
Francis Morin (MU)0:17:25
Antoine Caron (MJ)0:16:59
Mical Dyck (WE)0:19:24
9United States Of America1:10:42
Todd Wells (ME)0:16:04
Robbie Squire (MU)0:16:58
Seth Kemp (MJ)0:17:57
Katherine Compton (WE)0:19:43
10Spain1:10:58
Jose Maria Sanchez Ruiz (MU)0:17:57
Antonio Santos Ridao (MJ)0:18:16
Anna Villar Argente (WE)0:19:49
José Antonio Hermida Ramos (ME)0:14:56
11South Africa1:12:09
Burry Stander (ME)0:15:41
Yolande Speedy (WE)0:22:14
Philip Buys (MU)0:16:57
James Reid (MJ)0:17:17
12Australia1:13:22
Lachlan Norris (ME)0:16:50
Trenton Day (MJ)0:17:56
Rowena Fry (WE)0:20:52
Cameron Ivory (MJ)0:17:44
13Austria1:13:48
Christoph Soukup (ME)0:19:30
Gregor Raggl (MJ)0:18:02
Maria Osl (WE)0:20:08
Alexander Gehbauer (MU)0:16:08
14Japan1:14:12
Kyosuke Takei (ME)0:17:27
Yu Takenouchi (MU)0:17:00
Rie Katayama (WE)0:19:54
Idomu Yamamoto (MJ)0:19:51
15Slovakia1:14:16
Michal Lami (ME)0:16:48
Frantisek Lami (MJ)0:17:54
Janka Stevkova (WE)0:20:33
Jozef Bebcak (MJ)0:19:01
16New-Zealand1:14:30
Michael Northcott (ME)0:17:48
Brad Hudson (MJ)0:17:46
Nicola Leary (WE)0:20:51
Carl Jones (MU)0:18:05
17Israel1:14:32
Rotem Ishai (ME)0:17:32
Shaked Frank (MJ)0:20:00
Noga Korem (WU)0:20:36
Shlomi Haimy (MU)0:16:24
DNFSweden 9
Magnus Darvell (ME)0:15:58
Tomas Kristoffersson (MJ)0:17:31
Alexandra Engen (WU)
Mattias Wengelin (MU)
DNSBrazil
Sherman Paiva (MU)
Roberta Kelly Stopa (WE)
Luiz Cocuzzi (MJ)
Ricardo Pscheidt (ME)

 

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