Bad luck struck Great Britain in their opening event of the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Hafjell, Norway on Wednesday as an early puncture for Iain Paton scuppered the squad’s chances in the team relay event.
Paton punctured early in the first lap, putting paid to Great Britain’s chances early on, the team relay world title going to France, with Switzerland silver and Czech Republic bronze.
Paton, Dylan Kerfoot-Robson, Alice Barnes and Grant Ferguson represented Great Britain in the event, in which each rider tackles one flat-out lap of the course before handing over to their teammates, the winning team the first to complete their four laps.
But Great Britain got off to a disastrous start when under-23 rider Paton suffered a puncture in the first half of lap one, crossing the line in 26th place. Paton’s lap time of 15 minutes and 57 seconds putting Britain three minutes and 32 seconds adrift of early leaders Sweden.
Olympic Development Programme rider Dylan Kerfoot-Robson took over for lap two and his 13 minute 59 second effort lifted Great Britain to 23rd, position, four minutes and 47 seconds behind the leaders Australia, with Sweden slipping to third.
Kerfoot-Robson handed over to first year under-23 Alice Barnes for lap three, the 19-year-old putting in a 17 minute and 10 second lap to leave Great Britain in 25th place while up front, Spain took the lead.
Barnes passed the baton to Grant Ferguson to bring the race home for Great Britain. The British champion completed the Hafjell course in 12 minutes and 59 seconds, lifting Great Britain to 22nd, with the win going to the French squad of Jordan Sarrou, Hugo Pigeon, Pauline Prevot Ferrand and Maxime Marotte.
Following the race Great Britain head mountain bike coach Phil Dixon summed up the ride.
“Iain sustained a puncture on first uphill, a slit in sidewall,” said Dixon.
“The riders are obviously bitterly disappointed but this was not the only puncture on course. There were many sharp rocks and chances for this to happen.”
Great Britain next compete in the men’s and women’s junior cross-country events on Thursday.
Isla Short, Evie Richards and Ffion James will ride the junior women’s event with Thomas Craig, Frazer Clacherty and Dylan Kerfoot-Robson representing Great Britain in the junior men’s race.