Welcome to the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. We're testing out some live coverage today at the Under 23 men's cross country race. The race starts at 5:00 PM Central European Time.
As of now, we understand the U23 men will race one start loop plus six laps. 86 riders are on the start list.
It's been a nice day in Champery so far today. Not too hot, not too cold. Rider call up is underway
And they are off!
There are lots of people out today to cheer on the U23 men. Some favorites include Thomas Litscher (Swi) and Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy). The latter won the 2011 World Cup overall.
Through the finish at the end of the start loop, Litscher led Kerschbaumer, much to the delight of the Swiss fans. They are already all strung out. 6 laps to go.
It's been thunderstorming each night here, which is keeping the technical course damp. Lots of roots and rocks mean riders have to stay very concentrated.
We're standing next to the main climb. It's a steep one. The very low part is paved and fans have written on the road like in a road race. We hear lots of cowbells and air horns. They should be here soon!
On the climb of Lap 1, Litscher leads Kerschbaumer. The two are together. They have a 22-second gap over chasers Diego Rosa (Ita) and Henk Jaap Moorlag (Ned). Next up is Marek Konwa(Pol).
Litscher got a gap on Kerschbaumer in the Snake, a technical tooth DH and he pushes it to finish lap 1 in the lead.
33 riders are through lap 1. Litscher has a 20-second lead. The Swiss fans are delighted. He won silver last year in Mont Saint Anne and has excelled in the new cross country eliminator format of racing.
Going up the main climb on lap 2, Litscher leads by 23 seconds. He climbs mostly seated and looks smooth.
Kerschbaumer went through at 23 seconds and Moorlag was just 3 seconds later. He'd nearly caught the Italian. Konwa was next at 1:02 on his own while Mathias Stirnemann (Swi) and Rosa were together.
Kerschbaumer continues to extend his lead in the early part of lap 3. Michiel van der Heijden, last year's junior world champion, rolls through in 17th.
The roots are slick but it's not nearly as slippery as it was for the junior men yesterday. We're missing US national champ Stephen Ettinger today. He crashed in the team relay on Wednesday. We heard he may have broken his finger and we haven't seen him yet today so he may not have started.
Near the end of lap 3, Litscher rolls through the roots by a river. He leads by 1:16. On the uphill singletrack Moorlag leads, but Kerschbaumer leads the downhill singletrack. The two chasers are right on each other. Konwa is solo in 4th at 1:24 while Stirnemann and Rosa battle for 5th.
This U23 race is really a show of strong young Europeans. We've only seen the occasional rider from Brasil, South Africa and Australia in the top 30 or so riders. Haven't seen any Canadians or US riders near the front.
Paul van der Ploeg (Aus) has been riding as the top non Continental rider.
Thomas Litscher crosses the line with one to go and a huge lead. Konwa has moved up to second place. He rolls through at 1:39, just in front of Moorlag at 1:57.
Stirnemann rides through in fourth while yet another Swiss rider Reto Indergand comes through in fifth. After a mechanical, Kerschbaumer is in 6th, then Rosa.
Litscher is about halfway through his final lap. Barring major disaster, he looks good for the win with a 1:40 advantage at the top of the fireroad climb. He'll be riding carefully these last five minutes.
The Swiss have an impressive three riders in the top 5. Litscher in the lead on the final climb. Stirnemann is in fourth and indergand in fifth. American Jack hinkens is racing in 41st and just rolled out for his final lap.
Thomas Litscher wins gold for Switzerland to loud cheers and has plenty of time to pick up his bike and carry it overhead across the line. Marek Konwa gives Poland it's first 2011 worlds medal in second at 1:42. Dutchman Hank Jaap Moorlag takes bronze at 2:13.
That wraps up our live coverage for today. Thanks for joining us and tune in again tomorrow for more of the elite women's and men's cross country races. Full coverage from today's Under 23 cross country will be posted as usual. Stay tuned!
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