Ferguson impresses at Val di Sole UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Ferguson impresses at Val di Sole UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

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Great Britain's Grant Ferguson took a career best fourth at the third round of the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup with a superb ride in the under 23 race.

Ferguson, 19, ended the demanding race in Val Di Sole - which featured five steep climbs with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius – just outside the medal places as Markus Schulte-Luenzum took the win.

The Scottish rider had steadily moved forward through the race before linking up with Swiss champion Matthias Stirnemann and then leaving him behind with two laps remaining, ending just 15 seconds from third.

"That's a special bike ride," British Cycling Olympic Mountain Bike coach Phil Dixon said. "He's only a second year under 23 rider. We haven't seen a male performance like that for a number of years. It's really exciting to see what this rider can do going forward."

There was also a career best for Alice Barnes who took 12th in the junior women’s race, already showing the benefits from the establishment of British Cycling's mountain bike Olympic Development Programme.

Barnes, currently leading the junior standings in the British Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country Series, came in six minutes and 55 seconds behind Russian winner Olga Terentyeva.

British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme rider Bethany Crumpton, 19, continued her learning curve with 22nd in the under 23 women’s race. A crash setback the impressive youngster's aspirations as Ukrainian Yana Belomoyna won in one hour and 22 minutes.

"After a couple of strong rides she's had a tough day," Dixon said. "Out of the three world cups she'll probably learn the most from this having had a tough day.

"You often get more out of a bike race when things go wrong than when they go right."

In the elite men’s race, David Fletcher was ranked 76th after being pulled out of the race on the fifth lap as Switzerland’s Nino Schurter took a narrow victory from Frenchman Julien Absalon.

London Olympian Annie Last was unable to finish the elite women’s race, withdrawing on the fifth lap, at the time 34th and over 17 minutes adrift of eventual winner Tanja Zakelj.

The junior men’s race takes place on Sunday.