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Van Der Heijden solos to U23 victory in Mont-Sainte-Anne

Michiel Van der Heijden (Rabobank Giant Offroad Team) soloed to victory in the Under-23 men's cross country race at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup on Saturday morning. Gerhard Kerschbaumer (TX Active Bianchi) rode on his own into second place while Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Focus MIG Team) was third.

"I was so motivated today to win this race because two years ago, I won the junior world championships here, and I love the track," said Van Der Heijden. "Last year, I was not here and I was really looking forward to coming back. Today, I felt great and the course was super - it was a perfect day."

Four men started out in the lead including Julian Schelb, Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Focus MIG Team), Ondrej Cink (Merida Biking Team) and Gerhard Kerschbaumer (TX Active Bianchi). Van Der Heijden was not far behind and soon moved up.

Cink dropped out of the mix after he crashed on a downhill rock garden and had a related mechanical. He did not finish.

Schelb had string of misfortunes but managed to finish in 11th. "It was not so good. I was in second behind Kerschbaumer, and then I had chainsuck in a rock garden and crashed," said Schelb. "I banged up my knee. After that I lost some air in my tire and crashed again."

Van der Heijden moved up to the front with Kerschbaumer and the two battled for the lead until a decisive moment when the Italian crashed on the third lap.

"In a technical section, I crashed and he got by me and got a gap," said Kerschbaumer, who was named on the Italian Olympic team. "The race was very hard and very technical. I like this race." He is especially looking forward to next weekend's race in Windham, where he won last year.

Once Van der Heijden got the lead, he never looked back. "On the last lap just before the long downhill before the feedzone, I took over from Gerhard. I immediately got a gap and kept on pushing."

Third place finisher Schulte-Luenzum was happy to see his form coming on just as he had planned for this season. "I took a week off after La Bresse and have been building up ever since. You never know what you're form will be like after a break, but I got lucky and it worked. There were tough conditions today - slippery. You had to be very concentrated and not go over your limit. I think my tactic was good ... to find my rhythm and stick to that." He flatted in the last lap, but called it a "lucky flat" as he was just 1km from the finish and did not lose any placings.

Ruben Scheire (BH - SR Suntour - Peisey Vallandry) finished fourth ahead of James Reid in fifth.

"It was good. I haven't had much cross country racing lately. Coming from South Africa, it's hard to gauge where you are," said Reid in his second top-five World Cup finish of his career. "I felt good on the first lap - the start loop suited me. I just felt better from there. I was excited. I follow these guys and track them and to race with them is exciting."

Russell Finsterwald (Subaru - Trek) put in the top North American performance with a 10th place.

"I'm really stoked. Each lap, I'd pick off two or three people. After the first lap, I was 20th, and I just kept it together and kept moving up throughout the race."

"I felt good, and this is one of my favorite courses because there is more than just a fitness element. There is a lot of technical stuff out there. It's fun to have that in the mix. It's good for me." Finsterwald was eighth at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup last year.

Alexander Gehbauer continues to lead the World Cup standings with 310 points after five rounds while Cink remains in second with 270 points.  With his win today, Van der Heijden moved up to third spot, now with 265 points.

Full Results

U23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michiel Van Der Heijden (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team1:26:57
2Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Ita) TX Active Bianchi0:00:34
3Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Ger) Focus MIG Team0:01:49
4Ruben Scheire (Bel) BH - SR Suntour - Peisey Vallandry0:02:10
5James Reid (RSA)0:03:01
6Simon Stiebjahn (Ger)0:03:32
7Mirco Widmer (Swi) Giant Swiss Sr - Suntour0:03:39
8Kenta Gallagher (GBr)0:03:54
9Reto Indergand (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team0:04:17
10Russell Finsterwald (USA) Subaru - Trek0:04:44
11Julian Schelb (Ger)0:05:06
12Matthias Stirnemann (Swi) Thoemus Racing Team
13Evan Guthrie (Can)0:05:27
14Gregor Raggl (Aut)0:05:48
15Olof Jonsson (Swe) Team Fujibikes Rockets0:05:51
16Emilien Barben (Swi)0:05:58
17Mitchell Bailey (Can)0:06:14
18Fabrice Mels (Bel) Salcano Factory Team0:07:02
19Andrey Fonseca (CRc)0:07:21
20Jack Haig (Aus)0:07:29
21Kerry Werner (USA)0:07:37
22Leandre Bouchard (Can)0:07:46
23Zsolt Juhasz (Hun)0:08:13
24Antoine Caron (Can)0:08:26
25Hilvar Yamid Malaver (Col)0:08:59
26Andrew L'esperance (Can)0:09:13
27Howard Grotts (USA) Specialized Racing0:09:22
28Lukas Loretz (Swi) Giant Swiss Sr - Suntour0:10:03
29Patrick Chartrand (Can)0:10:25
30Luke Roberts (RSA)0:10:27
31Steven Noble (Can)0:10:59
32Evan Mcneely (Can)0:11:10
33Diyer Rincon (Col)0:11:47
34Brad Hudson (NZl)0:12:22
35Skyler Trujillo (USA)0:14:17
36Sebastian Batchelor (GBr)0:14:31
37Tom Bradshaw (NZl)0:15:50
38Roger Walder (Swi) Scott - Swisspower MTB Racing Team0:16:29
39Varga Daniel (Can)0:16:56
40Samuel Tremblay (Can)0:17:50
41Alex Lavertu (Can)0:18:04
42Cole Oberman (USA)
DNFJeremy Martin (Can)
DNFSeamus Powell (USA)
DNFMathew Waghorn (NZl)
DNFRourke Croeser (RSA) Orange Monkey-Cannondale
DNFFelix Wilberg (Can)
DNFOndrej Cink (Cze) Merida Biking Team
DNFPhilippe Depault (Can)
DNSLuis Rojas (Arg)

U23 men World Cup standings after five rounds
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Gehbauer (Aut)310pts
2Ondrej Cink (Cze)270
3Michiel Van Der Heijden (Ned)265
4Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Ger)257
5Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Ita)247
6Matthias Stirnemann (Swi)127
7Ruben Scheire (Bel)126
8Daniele Braidot (Ita)114
9Julian Schelb (Ger)110
10James Reid (RSA)90
11Nicholas Pettina (Ita)77
12Christian Pfäffle (Ger)57
13Simon Stiebjahn (Ger)55
14Mirco Widmer (Swi)52
15Jeff Luyten (Bel)51
16Olof Jonsson (Swe)43
17Kenta Gallagher (GBr)39
18Hugo Drechou (Fra)39
19Pablo Rodriguez Guede (Spa)37
20Reto Indergand (Swi)36
21Didier Bats (Bel)34
22Marek Rauchfuss (Cze)33
23Gregor Raggl (Aut)32
24Jonas De Backer (Bel)31
25Jordan Sarrou (Fra)29
26Bart De Vocht (Bel)27
27Russell Finsterwald (USA)26
28Zsolt Juhasz (Hun)25
29Maxime Urruty (Fra)24
30Marvin Gruget (Fra)23
31Rourke Croeser (RSA)21
32Jhonnatan Botero Villegas (Col)20
33Jan Nesvadba (Cze)18
34Evan Guthrie (Can)16
35Martin Gluth (Ger)15
36Dirk Peters (NZl)14
37Roger Walder (Swi)12
38Dmytro Titarenko (Ukr)11
39Emilien Barben (Swi)10
40Mitchell Bailey (Can)9
41Fabrice Mels (Bel)8
42Ivan Smirnov (Rus)8
43Andrey Fonseca (CRc)7
44Truls Engen Korsaeth (Nor)7
45Grant Ferguson (GBr)7
46Jack Haig (Aus)6
47Kerry Werner (USA)5
48Tomas Paprstka (Cze)5
49Sebastian Batchelor (GBr)5
50Leandre Bouchard (Can)4
51Marcel Fleschhut (Ger)4
52Luke Roberts (RSA)4
53Lukas Loretz (Swi)3
54Luca Braidot (Ita)3
55Antoine Caron (Can)2
56Pavel Priadein (Rus)2
57Julien Trarieux (Fra)2
58Hilvar Yamid Malaver (Col)1


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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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