UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Round 2 Cross Country Eliminator - Nove Mesto, Czech Republic
24 May 2013
Report: Luke Webber
British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete Kenta Gallagher bounced back in style with stronger equipment, a stronger performance and his first ever world cup victory at round two of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup cross country elimintor, Nove Mesto.
In a final where Miha Halzer snapped off his rear mech and Simon Gegenheimer punctured, Gallagher was left with a tense battle against Christian Pfaffle, with both riders entering the finishing straight side by side.
Gallagher waited until late to open his sprint, but ultimately his effort was perfectly timed and the third-year under-23 athlete emulated Annie Last, who won the inaugural world cup eliminator in Houffalize, 2012.
Immediately after winning, Gallagher's reaction was one of disbelief - his previous best eliminator performance was making it to the semifinal in 2012, while his cross country results had not reflected the hard work put in over two years on British Cycling's Olympic Academy.
Mechanical issues, crashes and illness all hurt Gallagher's on-paper results up until last week, when his 16th place under-23 world cup XCO finish and promising eliminator form showed that he still had the potential to reach the highest level of performance in elite cross country racing.
That emotion came out on the finish line, as Gallagher raised his arms, broke into tears and gave some limited thoughts on his career-best result.
"It's cool to win my first world cup. I'm amazed. I didn't think I could do it so early on and with such a hard track. This course is so hard, there's alot of tactics involved and you have to make your moves on the final straight."
For Gallagher that approach paid off, and now he must recover before Saturday's longer under-23 cross country race.
HOW IT UNFOLDED
Gallagher qualified fourth - bettering his ninth the previous weekend - and went into the knockout phases better prepared.
At round one Gallagher rolled his tyre, going out in the 1/8 final, but in Nove Mesto chose more sturdy equipment to ensure mistakes were not repeated.
Comfortably through the 1/8 final, Gallagher nearly came unstuck in the quarterfinal, first losing his rear wheel in a corner and then forced to lead the finishing sprint on a tactical course.
In the semifinal Gallagher rode from last, overtaking in the rock garden to third and kept in the hunt on the climb, which obviously hurt him.
His reward was to contest the sprint, where luck turned and his opponent Daniel Federspiel had a gear problem and gifted Gallagher with a place in the final.