Italy won their second gold medal of the 2009 Mountain Bike World Championships on Thursday, when Gerhard Kerschbaumer took the Junior Men's cross-country title. Kerschbaumer, who earlier in the week was part of the Italian gold medal Team Relay squad, was the dominant rider in the race, dropping Portugal's Ricardo Marinheiro on the fourth lap of the five lap event. Marinheiro finished 1:19 behind, with Reto Indergand of Switzerland taking the bronze medal, a further 15 seconds in arrears. Kenta Gallagher was the top rider for Great Britain, finishing 32nd, with Steve James in 48th.
Kenta Gallagher on the steep rock-drop
Steve James working his way into the top fifty
A select group of four riders broke away on the first lap - Kerschbaumer, Marinheiro, Indergand and Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland). Stirnemann was dropped on the second lap, and the other three rode together until lap four, when Kerschbaumer upped the pace, first shedding Indergand on the singletrack climb at the start of the lap, and then Marinheiro after the first feedzone in the second half of the lap. Kerschbaumer steadily pulled away to take the title, while Marinheiro barely held off Indergand and a revitalized Stirnemann for the silver medal.
"The race went very well, it was perfect because my legs were perfect." stated Kerschbaumer. "The track was very tough and very technical but the atmosphere and the conditions helped me to win. On the first two or three laps I was very calm and was trying to control the other riders and then on the fourth lap I overtook everyone on the climb."
Marinheiro was content with his second place, giving Portugal their first medal of the championships. "I am happy with the result. I tried very hard, but Kerschbaumer was very strong on the uphill sections and I could not manage to stay with him there. After that, I wanted just to hold on to second place."
After the race Kenta Gallagher, the top Brit rider spoke of a day which wasn't his greatest, but reflected on a good experience gained for his upcoming second Junior year.
"It was a hard course," commented Gallagher. "The climbs were really short and sharp but they took a lot out of me. I just didn't get into it today. I just wasn't feeling that great. On all the straights and the flat bits I just couldn't put the power down. I am better at technical stuff but normally I am quite strong on the flatter bits and the power courses. I just didn't really have a good start either, so it wasn't my day today. At least I've still got next year in Juniors."