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Cink powers to men's under 23 world championship title

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.

Race note

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."

Full Results

Under 23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic)1:19:40
2Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands)0:00:14
3Daniele Braidot (Italy)0:00:48
4Alexander Gehbauer (Austria)0:01:34
5Luca Braidot (Italy)0:02:12
6Jens Schuermans (Belgium)0:02:39
7Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy)0:02:45
8Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Germany)0:02:57
9Julian Schelb (Germany)0:03:02
10Nicholas Pettina (Italy)0:03:11
11Simon Stiebjahn (Germany)0:03:40
12Reto Indergand (Switzerland)0:03:43
13Jordan Sarrou (France)0:04:05
14Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland)0:04:31
15Ruben Scheire (Belgium)0:04:37
16Howard Grotts (United States Of America)0:04:38
17Henk Jaap Moorlag (Netherlands)0:04:42
18Rourke Croeser (South Africa)0:04:45
19Andrea Righettini (Italy)0:04:52
20Marek Konwa (Poland)0:04:58
21Timofei Ivanov (Russian Federation)0:05:11
22Dmytro Titarenko (Ukraine)0:05:43
23Zsolt Juhasz (Hungary)0:05:51
24Christian Pfäffle (Germany)0:06:18
25Marcel Fleschhut (Germany)0:06:26
26Olof Jonsson (Sweden)0:06:41
27Marek Rauchfuss (Czech Republic)0:06:55
28Dirk Peters (New-Zealand)0:07:09
29Leandre Bouchard (Canada)0:07:13
30James Reid (South Africa)0:07:27
31Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)0:07:31
32Grant Ferguson (Great Britain)0:07:35
33Frederico Mariano (Brazil)0:07:42
34Gregor Raggl (Austria)0:07:43
35Markus Preiss (Austria)
36Mirco Widmer (Switzerland)0:08:20
37Jonas Pedersen (Denmark)0:08:33
38Ole Hem (Norway)0:08:42
39Cristofer Bosque Ruano (Spain)0:08:58
40Jeff Luyten (Belgium)0:09:05
41Andrey Fonseca (Costa Rica)0:09:11
42Kerry Werner (United States Of America)0:09:32
43Sebastian Batchelor (Great Britain)0:09:37
44Marvin Gruget (France)0:09:45
45Didier Bats (Belgium)0:09:48
46Jaime Yesid Chia Amaya (Colombia)0:09:58
47Bartlomiej Wawak (Poland)0:10:03
48Emilien Barben (Switzerland)0:10:17
49Jeremy Martin (Canada)0:10:34
50Pavel Priadein (Russian Federation)0:10:41
51Mitchell Bailey (Canada)
52Fabian Rabensteiner (Italy)0:10:55
53Mario Luis Miranda Costa (Portugal)0:11:04
54Antoine Caron (Canada)0:11:17
55Jack Haig (Australia)0:11:21
56Ivan Smirnov (Russian Federation)0:11:29
57Jhonnatan Botero Villegas (Colombia)0:12:30
58Martin Gluth (Germany)0:12:31
59Kenta Gallagher (Great Britain)0:13:17
-1lapRussell Finsterwald (United States Of America)
-1lapTruls Engen Korsaeth (Norway)
-1lapEvan Guthrie (Canada)
-1lapFrantisek Lami (Slovakia)
-1lapFranco Molina (Argentina)
-1lapRok Korosec (Slovenia)
-1lapLouis Wolf (Germany)
-1lapManfred Zöger (Austria)
-1lapLuke Roberts (South Africa)
-2lapsSteven James (Great Britain)
-2lapsLuiz Cocuzzi (Brazil)
-2lapsJozef Bebcak (Slovakia)
-2lapsMichael Crosbie (Australia)
-2lapsSkyler Trujillo (United States Of America)
-2lapsGerman Dorhmann (Argentina)
-2lapsHermann Pernsteiner (Austria)
-2lapsChristoph Mick (Austria)
-2lapsDimitrios Antoniadis (Greece)
-2lapsLuis Rojas (Argentina)
-3lapsMark Kuyan (Russian Federation)
-3lapsGergo Meggyesi (Hungary)
-3lapsUrban Ferencak (Slovenia)
-3lapsYoshitaka Nakahara (Japan)
-3lapsMarko Popovic (Serbia)
-4lapsSoon Woo Kwon (Republic Of Korea)
-4lapsAleksa Maric (Serbia)
-4lapsJuan Busso (Argentina)
-4lapsMarco Francioni (San Marino)
-4lapsDaniel Hula (Slovakia)
-5lapsFilip Turk (Croatia)
DNFJonas De Backer (Belgium)
DNFTomas Paprstka (Czech Republic)
DNFLorenzo Samparisi (Italy)
DNFBart De Vocht (Belgium)
DNFPablo Rodriguez Guede (Spain)
DNFMykhaylo Batsutsa (Ukraine)
DNFPatricio Maximiliano Farias Diaz (Chile)
DNFSturla Aune (Norway)
DNFTom Bradshaw (New-Zealand)
DNFTitouan Perrin Ganier (France)
DNFMatis Preimanis (Latvia)
DNFFabrice Mels (Belgium)
DNFAndras Szatmary (Hungary)

Rankings by nation
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
3Czech Republic250
7South Africa193
8United States Of America191
10Russian Federation182
12Great Britain175
27Costa Rica62
33Republic Of Korea19
34San Marino16


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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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