by Jamie Mack
In the men’s Elite race, it quickly became a chasing game as an early crash hampered the efforts of many riders, including four-time world champion Julien Absalon. Things settled down a bit for the rest of the men’s laps, with Jose Antonio Hermida giving Spain it’s first ever Elite world championship in mountain biking. As for the ’cross riders, there weren’t any names from our community on the podium, but some of your favorite riders had a standout day.
Geoff Kabush, another rider caught up in the early crash that affected Absalon’s day, managed to rally after the early trouble and finish eighth for his best-ever MTB Worlds finish. The result bodes well for Kabush’s fitness and gives a good indication that he should be a racer to watch in the early season ’cross races. On the American side, Todd Wells was the top ’cross finisher, coming across the line 21st, just behind Samuel Schultz, who was the top American in Mont-Sainte-Anne. Adam Craig was just behind Wells in 29th, Michael Broderick was 41st, while Carl Decker had the dubious honor of being the last rider on the lead lap, a position often fought over in ’cross. ’Cross star Sven Nys suffered on the day, finishing two laps down on the leaders.
“A complete off day,” is how Nys characterized his performance, which was fraught with technical miscues, to Belgian publication Sporza. But, Nys also reported that his fitness was not the limiter, and that he feels primed for the cyclocross season.
In the women’s race Poland’s Maja Wloszczowska rode away from the field in the first half of the race and never looked back. Behind her a hard fought battle for the remaining podium places was raging, with Russian rider Irina Kalentieva claiming second and American Willow Koerber snagging third in the final meters. Heather Irmiger and Sabine Spitz ensured that ’cross fans had someone to root for in the top 10, finishing sixth and eighth, respectively.
American Mary Mconneloug in 13th and adopted American Katerina Nash, of the Czech Republic, in 16th provided evidence that many of our favorite riders are coming into their prime at the start of the real season. The American favorites didn’t have the day they were hoping for, as Georgia Gould finished in 41st at the tail end of the lead lap and Kelli Emmett finished one lap down. Fan favorite Katie Compton suffered most of all. Compton, who suffered a crash during the team relay the day before that left her with stitches in her arm, was a DNF on the day. Compton crashed again in the XC event and, as husband Mark Legg-Compton said via Twitter, “Katie is doing OK after crashing out of the XC at Worlds. Her hip is very sore, knee is intact but still swollen. The stitches held up fine.” ’Cross fans across the world aren’t worried though, as this was simply a tune-up for her as she gets ready to go back to laying down the law on the cyclocross course.
All in all, the ’crossers seemed to have had a rough time with the course in Mont-Sainte-Anne. At first glance, with the exception of a couple of top 10′s, there wasn’t anything remarkable in the results from the perspective of the ’cross fan. But considering that the MTBer’s are at the peak of their fitness at an event many have focused on all year, the ’cross riders are just getting started. And looking down the results list, seeing how many ’cross riders cracked the top 20 in their respective races, it becomes apparent that this upcoming season is going to be one to watch.