UCI Mountain Bike World Championships 2011
Cross Country Junior Men |Cross Country Under-23 Women
Annie Last's silver medal rounded out two top five cross country performances on day two of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championshps.
Great Britain's Annie Last claimed a silver medal for the second year running in the women's under-23 cross country competition, following a race-long battle with Julie Bresset of France.
Right from the gun it was clear that the race was going to be between the two riders - Bresset, reigning World Cup champion and British Cycling's Olympic Academy athlete Last, whose recent form has seen her piece together a string of superb performances including two top-ten World Cup finishes.
Bresset and Last were together for much of the start loop before Bresset began to slowly edge away on lap one and by the beginning of lap two, Last was 30 seconds adrift. Bresset continued to press and by the halfway point on lap two the gap had edged out to 40 seconds. However, a mistake from the Frenchwoman on the final descent of the lap proved how precarious her lead was, instantly halving the gap to Last.
At two laps to go, the gap was still 40 seconds, prompting speculation that Bresset was tiring as Last was gaining ground. However Bresset recovered her powers and began to press again, re-opening the gap to over a minute as the final lap loomed.
On the final descent Last, fatigued, hit the dirt on the last lap, losing 30 seconds and putting Bresset out of reach, the Frenchwoman going on to claim the under-23 title in a time of 1:32,29, with a delighted Last crossing the line 1 minute and 30 seconds later to take silver.
The four minute gap between Last and bronze medallist Pauline Ferrand Prevot of France put both Last and Bresset's performances into perspective - Last and Bresset were a class apart - the former proving that she can race with the very best in the world, irrespective of age group. With Bresset moving up to Senior class next year, the top step of the under-23 podium is surely Last's for the taking.
1 Julie BRESSET FRA 01:32:29
2 Annie LAST GBR 01:33:59
3 Pauline FERRAND PREVOT FRA 01:38:16
4 Helen GROBERT GER 01:39:22
5 Anne TERPSTRA NED 01:39:49
6 Yana BELOMOYNA UKR 01:40:33
7 Vivienne MEYER SUI 01:42:01
8 Lisa MITTERBAUER AUT 01:42:27
9 Fanny BOURDON FRA 01:43:09
10 Lorraine TRUONG SUI 01:45:09
JUNIOR MEN CROSS COUNTRY
British rider Grant Ferguson secured a career best fourth place finish in the Junior Men's Cross Country after an impressive performance that saw him lead in the early stages.
Fellow rider Matthew Sumpton found himself out of luck after a crash in the first corner saw the Brit break his collarbone, and despite riding on bravely and completing over half of the start loop, was forced to retire by British Cycling staff.
Ferguson - a British Cycling Olympic Development Programme athlete - started on row two and after riding in the group in the opening climb, Ferguson made rapid progress taking over everyone at the top of the climb to lead at the first start loop, a position he would keep.
But before the first lap-proper was out, Ferguson found himself second with Frenchman Victor Koretzky overtaking, whilst Ferguson stayed on Koretzky's back wheel for a while, eventually the French rider broke clear and would not be caught again in the race. Into the second lap and Ferguson found himself amongst a group of three battling between third and fifth. Costa Rican Andrey Fonseca had made his way to second whilst Maxime Urruty (FRA) and Dominic Zumstein (SUI) momentarily dropped Ferguson in a race which saw gaps repeatedly being formed before being pulled in, promoting plenty of change.
One such move came as Urruty punctured, leaving Ferguson and a hard-charging Anton Cooper (NZL) to battle alongside Zumstein.
On the final ascent of the last lap, Cooper burst clear, chasing down Fonseca and beating him in a sprint to the line.
Moments behind, Ferguson just missed Cooper's decisive move on the final climb which cruely cost him a World Championship medal, to add to his silver medal he earned last month at the European Championships.
1. Victor Koretzky (FRA) 1:07:18
2. Anton Cooper (NZL) 1:08:36
3. Andrey Fonseca (CRC) 1:08:37
4. Grant Ferguson (GBR) 1:09:06
Matthew Sumpton (GBR) DNF
Speaking after two superb performances from British riders on day two, British Cycling's Olympic Mountain Bike Coach Phil Dixon said:
"I'm really happy with the way both riders performed today. Annie getting second to the best cross country rider in the world is no mean feat. These results will really lift morale in the team - two top five results will really boost everyone with the races to come."
All fifty riders made it through to Friday nights big show - but not without a few upsets along the way. On a track that is changing the rules for the discipline many riders chose to experiment with different bikes for qualification in a bid to get a crucial first pick on the gate.
Scott Beaumont was Britain's top qualifier in ninth, choosing to ride a full suspension trail bike, while favourites Jared Graves (AUS) and Tomas Slavik (CZE) qualified the last two positions after torrid runs. Graves punctured before the first turn, Slavik missed the gate and had to run back up the hill for a second try as the clock continued ticking.
Fionn Griffiths led the way for British women, second qualifier just 0.168 down on Melissa Buhl, 2008 World Champion.
Racing on Friday is expected to turn unpredictable, especially if rain moves into Champery.
1. Michal Prokop (CZE) 33.020
2. Joost Wichman (NED) +0.054
3. Kamil Tartarkovic (CZE) +0.660
9. Scott Beaumont (GBR) +1.533
18. Will Evans (GBR) +2.809
47. Scott Roberts (GBR) +21.398
1. Melissa Buhl (USA) 39.658
2. Fionn Griffiths (GBR) +0.168
3. Anneke Beerten (NED) +1.106