Favourite for the race, South Africa's Burry Stander, has dominated down under and is now the World Champion! An amazing ride was produced by Peter Sagen of Slovakia. Last year he was the Junior World Champion and now fourth in the U23s. That kid is one to watch.
Burry Stander (South Africa) was the dominant rider on Friday, as he successfully took his first title in the Under-23 Men's cross-country at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Canberra, Australia. Alexis Vuillermoz (France) took second at 1:21, with Switzerland's Thomas Litscher winning the bronze medal, 2:46 down. The top British rider was David Fletcher in 29th, 10:46 down on Stander.
The six lap race saw Litscher attack strongly in the first lap, with Stander glued to his wheel. A chase group of six formed 25 seconds behind, including Mattias Wengelin (Sweden), Marek Konwa (Poland), Vuillermoz, Peter Sagan, Mathias Flückiger (Switzerland) and Catriel Andres Soto (Argentina).
Then Stander opened it up on the Cardiac Arrest climb, and that was it ... the rest of the race was for second as the Number Two rider in the overall World Cup standings steadily increased his lead through the remainder of the race.
Vuillermoz overtook a fading Litscher in the third lap, with Sagan and Konwa chasing for third. As the race continued, the front three continued to distance themselves from the chasers, with Sagan and Konwa managing to hold on for fourth and fifth respectively.
"I got a good start," commented Fletcher. "I got into the top 20 going into the first lap and I just tried to keep a good pace to try to stay there as long as possible. I started to suffer with about three laps to go, but I was just trying to keep smooth and hit the climbs hard and basically just try to keep it as smooth as possible. And I did pretty well, I think."
"Some bits of the course suited me really well, but I am quite a big lad, so I am not so good on the steep steep climbs, and I suffered on the main steep climb on the single track, but everywhere else I was quite strong. Nice twisty, technical descents were really good for me."