Ondrej Cink won a gold medal for the Czech Republic in the under 23 men's race at the world championships in Saalfelden, Austria, on Friday afternoon. Cink, who is also the European champion, powered into the lead with just over one lap to go when he caught Michael van der Heijden (Netherlands), who had spent the middle part of the six-lap race off the front on his own.
"It's perfect, I hoped for victory today. I had concentrated on this date, and I'm happy to meet my goal," said Cink. "I didn't like the course in the beginning, but when it dried out, I was satisfied with it. The crowd was also fine, and there were a lot of Czech people who were very loud."
Daniele Braidot (Italy) raced to a bronze medal ahead of an unlucky Alexander Gehbauer (Austria) after the home crowd favorite flatted on lap four and required a wheel change. Daniele's twin brother Luca Braidot rounded out the top five.
By the start of lap 2, a lead group of four men was firmly established, including Cink, van der Heijden, Daniele Bradiot and Gehbauer. Behind them, several riders chased but could not make contact: Julian Schelb (Germany), Marek Konwa (Poland), Luca Braidot (Italy) and Jordan Sarrou (France).
Among the leaders, Cink was feeling good and biding his time while on lap three, van der Heijden was feeling good and decided to attack. He escaped alone off the front and seemed on track to take a second world championship after he first won the junior race in 2010 in Mont-Sainte-Anne.
"Before I felt strong, and I had quite a good gap," said van der Heijden. "But the last lap was too much. Maybe I went too early?"
"When Michael attacked, I thought the race is over," said Cink, "but when I saw him on the flats, I knew I could catch him and could win."
Behind van der Heijden, Gehbauer, who was with Cink chasing, was lagging on the descents. In one trip past the tech zone, the Austrian asked his crew to get a wheel ready so he could change a slowly leaking tire. Unfortunately, the wheel change which happened during the next pass through the tech zone went awry and took a relatively long time, ending his chances of a medal as he dropped back - to fourth place, where he would remain for the duration.
"I lost over a minute. I'm not happy with today," said a disappointed Gehbauer at the finish. He would not go on to win a medal in front of his home crowd although he appreciated the support. "It was amazing to race here. The people were awesome, but I did not have the best legs or the best luck. "
Van der Heijden's fatigue began to show in his body language while the chasing Cink only looked stronger and smoother as the race progressed. Toward the end of the penultimate lap, the Czech rider caught up to the Dutchman.
"When Ondrej caught me and got the gap on me on the long uphill, I couldn't hold his wheel," said van der Heijden. "I took some seconds back on the downhill, but it wasn't enough. I closed on him on the final downhill, but couldn't get back on it."
For a time, the two racers stayed together, but Cink was clearly stronger on the climbs. On the first climb of the final lap, he pulled away slightly, but van der Heijden reeled him back. However, on the second climb, Cink established enough of a lead that van der Heijden could not catch him on the final descent.
"I'm satisfied with second place, but my first reaction was a little bit of disappointment because I was so close," said van der Heijden. "I held back at first in the lead group, not doing too much work, and then attacked as I did early in other World Cups this year. Then the gaps only got bigger, and I thought maybe the same tactic would work today.
"But today, Ondrej was a bit stronger. This season he has had some very good races, and it is not too bad to lose to him, but I was so close and am a bit disappointed. Next year in Pietermaritzburg, I have another chance." In fact, he has two more years as a U23 while Cink will graduate to the elite ranks in 2013.
Daniele Braidot was delighted to get a bronze medal the day after his brother Luca helped Italy win the team relay gold.
Howard Grotts (United States) was the top North American in 16th place. "I wanted to start a little better than I did because I thought the start suited me, but it just bunched up," said Grotts. "Once I saw that, it was just picking off three or four people each lap. I'd lose a little on the descents, but I'd play it safe there so I wouldn't lose more time than I had to. I feel like I'm progressing with the categories, and I have three more years in the U23s."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic)||1:19:40|
|2||Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands)||0:00:14|
|3||Daniele Braidot (Italy)||0:00:48|
|4||Alexander Gehbauer (Austria)||0:01:34|
|5||Luca Braidot (Italy)||0:02:12|
|6||Jens Schuermans (Belgium)||0:02:39|
|7||Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy)||0:02:45|
|8||Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Germany)||0:02:57|
|9||Julian Schelb (Germany)||0:03:02|
|10||Nicholas Pettina (Italy)||0:03:11|
|11||Simon Stiebjahn (Germany)||0:03:40|
|12||Reto Indergand (Switzerland)||0:03:43|
|13||Jordan Sarrou (France)||0:04:05|
|14||Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland)||0:04:31|
|15||Ruben Scheire (Belgium)||0:04:37|
|16||Howard Grotts (United States Of America)||0:04:38|
|17||Henk Jaap Moorlag (Netherlands)||0:04:42|
|18||Rourke Croeser (South Africa)||0:04:45|
|19||Andrea Righettini (Italy)||0:04:52|
|20||Marek Konwa (Poland)||0:04:58|
|21||Timofei Ivanov (Russian Federation)||0:05:11|
|22||Dmytro Titarenko (Ukraine)||0:05:43|
|23||Zsolt Juhasz (Hungary)||0:05:51|
|24||Christian Pfäffle (Germany)||0:06:18|
|25||Marcel Fleschhut (Germany)||0:06:26|
|26||Olof Jonsson (Sweden)||0:06:41|
|27||Marek Rauchfuss (Czech Republic)||0:06:55|
|28||Dirk Peters (New-Zealand)||0:07:09|
|29||Leandre Bouchard (Canada)||0:07:13|
|30||James Reid (South Africa)||0:07:27|
|31||Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)||0:07:31|
|32||Grant Ferguson (Great Britain)||0:07:35|
|33||Frederico Mariano (Brazil)||0:07:42|
|34||Gregor Raggl (Austria)||0:07:43|
|35||Markus Preiss (Austria)|
|36||Mirco Widmer (Switzerland)||0:08:20|
|37||Jonas Pedersen (Denmark)||0:08:33|
|38||Ole Hem (Norway)||0:08:42|
|39||Cristofer Bosque Ruano (Spain)||0:08:58|
|40||Jeff Luyten (Belgium)||0:09:05|
|41||Andrey Fonseca (Costa Rica)||0:09:11|
|42||Kerry Werner (United States Of America)||0:09:32|
|43||Sebastian Batchelor (Great Britain)||0:09:37|
|44||Marvin Gruget (France)||0:09:45|
|45||Didier Bats (Belgium)||0:09:48|
|46||Jaime Yesid Chia Amaya (Colombia)||0:09:58|
|47||Bartlomiej Wawak (Poland)||0:10:03|
|48||Emilien Barben (Switzerland)||0:10:17|
|49||Jeremy Martin (Canada)||0:10:34|
|50||Pavel Priadein (Russian Federation)||0:10:41|
|51||Mitchell Bailey (Canada)|
|52||Fabian Rabensteiner (Italy)||0:10:55|
|53||Mario Luis Miranda Costa (Portugal)||0:11:04|
|54||Antoine Caron (Canada)||0:11:17|
|55||Jack Haig (Australia)||0:11:21|
|56||Ivan Smirnov (Russian Federation)||0:11:29|
|57||Jhonnatan Botero Villegas (Colombia)||0:12:30|
|58||Martin Gluth (Germany)||0:12:31|
|59||Kenta Gallagher (Great Britain)||0:13:17|
|-1lap||Russell Finsterwald (United States Of America)|
|-1lap||Truls Engen Korsaeth (Norway)|
|-1lap||Evan Guthrie (Canada)|
|-1lap||Frantisek Lami (Slovakia)|
|-1lap||Franco Molina (Argentina)|
|-1lap||Rok Korosec (Slovenia)|
|-1lap||Louis Wolf (Germany)|
|-1lap||Manfred Zöger (Austria)|
|-1lap||Luke Roberts (South Africa)|
|-2laps||Steven James (Great Britain)|
|-2laps||Luiz Cocuzzi (Brazil)|
|-2laps||Jozef Bebcak (Slovakia)|
|-2laps||Michael Crosbie (Australia)|
|-2laps||Skyler Trujillo (United States Of America)|
|-2laps||German Dorhmann (Argentina)|
|-2laps||Hermann Pernsteiner (Austria)|
|-2laps||Christoph Mick (Austria)|
|-2laps||Dimitrios Antoniadis (Greece)|
|-2laps||Luis Rojas (Argentina)|
|-3laps||Mark Kuyan (Russian Federation)|
|-3laps||Gergo Meggyesi (Hungary)|
|-3laps||Urban Ferencak (Slovenia)|
|-3laps||Yoshitaka Nakahara (Japan)|
|-3laps||Marko Popovic (Serbia)|
|-4laps||Soon Woo Kwon (Republic Of Korea)|
|-4laps||Aleksa Maric (Serbia)|
|-4laps||Juan Busso (Argentina)|
|-4laps||Marco Francioni (San Marino)|
|-4laps||Daniel Hula (Slovakia)|
|-5laps||Filip Turk (Croatia)|
|DNF||Jonas De Backer (Belgium)|
|DNF||Tomas Paprstka (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Lorenzo Samparisi (Italy)|
|DNF||Bart De Vocht (Belgium)|
|DNF||Pablo Rodriguez Guede (Spain)|
|DNF||Mykhaylo Batsutsa (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Patricio Maximiliano Farias Diaz (Chile)|
|DNF||Sturla Aune (Norway)|
|DNF||Tom Bradshaw (New-Zealand)|
|DNF||Titouan Perrin Ganier (France)|
|DNF||Matis Preimanis (Latvia)|
|DNF||Fabrice Mels (Belgium)|
|DNF||Andras Szatmary (Hungary)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|8||United States Of America||191|
|33||Republic Of Korea||19|
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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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