Day two of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships presented by Mercedes-Benz in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, saw the crowning of two new Junior UCI World Champions after hugely exciting, close competition.. Here’s how it happened...
Women Junior XCO: Swiss power-play
The form of Switzerland’s 2019 European Champion Jacqueline Schneebeli won through in a thrilling battle in the Junior Women’s fast-paced race over four 4km laps.
The first circuit was hotly contested between Switzerland’s Ronja Blochlinger and Austria’s Mona Mitterwallner with Schneebeli always in touch. By lap two, with Blochlinger dropping back, the Austrian (who was second in this year’s European Championships) took to the front, with Schneebeli always in company.
By lap three those two pulled away from the rest of the field, and swapped positions. Schneebeli – who finished 7th in the 2018 Junior UCI World Championships in her home country – gradually eased away, with the gap to Mitterwallner stretching at each checkpoint to reach over one minute on the fourth and final lap. From the chasing trio of Kata Blanka Vas (ITA), Helene Marie Fossesholm (NOR) and Zoe Cuthbert (AUS), the Norwegian took third position.
Schneebeli won in a time of 1:05:05 to earn the rainbow stripes and Switzerland’s third gold medal of this year’s Championships. Mitterwallner finished comfortably in silver medal position and Fossesholm took the bronze, claiming Austria and Norway’s first medals, respectively.
Men Junior XCO: right down to the wire
After a strong start from the British riders Harry Birchill (third in this year’s European Championships) and Charlie Aldridge, there were four different leaders in the first two laps of the five-lap Junior Men’s race, and they included Canada’s Carter Woods before Andreas Vittone (ITA) assumed first position just before the end of lap two.
It was a position the Italian Junior Champion was to keep throughout the majority of the race – although he certainly didn’t have it all his own way. A leading pack emerged including Woods, Aldridge, France’s Luca Martin and South Africa’s Luke Moir, giving Vittone no room: by the end of lap three there were just four seconds separating the top five, who had pushed a minute clear of the rest of the field.
Across the fourth lap, the gaps eventually grew, with only Aldridge able to stay with the Italian. The British rider briefly took the lead by the start of the fifth and final lap, but there was still nothing between the two and Vittone regained a marginal lead by the next split… with Martin closing them both down again.
But in the second half of the final lap, the advantages swung again for what would be the last time in an enthralling race as the Italian rider faded while the Briton pulled away from the Frenchman. And that was the final order: Britain’s first gold medal of the Championships thanks to Charlie Aldridge earning the rainbow jersey, with France’s Luca Martin taking silver and an exhausted Italian Andreas Vittone in bronze medal position.
The medal table shows the growing number of nations on the podium after just two days. The downhill riders get into action on Friday with their qualification runs, which will be followed by the XCO medal race for the Men Under 23.