Tue 7th August - Mass Start
A hot day greeted the first race of this year's MTBO World Champs, located around the northern Austrian town of Zwettl. Gridding on the start was based on World Rankings which meant that Great Britain's Ian Nixon started on the 8th row in the men's race.
With a long track out to the start, this low gridding meant he was never likely to see the front of the race. The race was ridden on 3 separate maps, with all 3 loops consisting of a maze of bumpy tracks which didn't allow the riders much opportunity to read the maps in detail. From a field of 91 starters, Ian came through the arena at the end of the first loop in 58th place at the back of a small group but still riding strongly. During the 2nd loop, he pulled away from this group and rode solo for this middle part of the race and came back through the arena in 55th although having had to double-back for the last control after riding past. The final loop was a much longer, hillier section and despite getting close to a couple o! f groups during the early parts of this last loop never quite made the gap, though gained a couple places to finish 53rd. At the front of the race, the final loop caught out a few of the leading riders as mistakes crept in. A confident Jussi Laurila from Finland chose a different route to the penultimate control from the group of 7 leading riders which paid off as he was able to freewheel over the line to take the victory 3 seconds ahead of the fast-finishing Davide Machado of Portugal. In the end, the first 5 riders were separated by just 6 seconds after 80 minutes of flat-out racing!
In the women's race, Clare Dallimore was gridded on the 2nd row but chose to ride cautiously from the gun so as to not get distracted by her rivals. Unfortunately, she made a couple of mistakes soon after which allowed the front group to pull away, and she came through at the end of the first loop in 27th, though with a large group of 11 riders close in front. Some further intense navigation was required on the 2nd loop and Clare moved through the group and came back through at the end of this loop in 18th but with some big time gaps ahead. Clare was able to use her fitness to her advantage and caught up with riders ahead who formed a large group round the last section of this loop which was the same for all riders. After a thrilling sprint finish, Clare crossed the line 18th.
However, it soon became clear that a number of riders had lost their concentration during the intense head-to-head racing and either mispunched, missed controls or had cut through the forest (this is not allowed at this event). There were some contentious routes taken on this 1st leg, particularly where the lead group took a dead-end track. All riders re-traced their tracks (in this event it was forbidden to cut through the forest) except for Olga Shipilova who finished 1st but was subsequently disqualified. It was, therefore, the Danish rider Camilla Soegaard, 2nd across the line, who was able to claim victory. There were further disqualifications for the riders who had originally finished 3rd and 4th, heartbreakingly so for Gabrielle Andrasiuniene from Lithuania who thought she had secured the bronze medal only to discover that she had missed the last control on the final loop. As a result of the numerous disqualifications, Clare moved up to 12th place.
Men 25.9km 640m
1. Jussi Laurila Finland 1.20.46
2. Davide Machado Portugal 1.20.49
3. Kevin Haselsberger Austria 1.20.50
4. Anton Foliforov Russia 1.20.51
5. Simon Braendli Switzerland 1.20.52
6. Grigory Medvedev Russia 1.21.06
53. Ian Nixon Great Britain 1.44.04
Women 18.8km 490m
1. Camilla Soegaard Denmark 1.17.42
2. Martina Tichovska Czech Republic 1.19.03
3. Sonja Zinkl Austria 1.21.12
4. Maja Rothweiler Austria 1.21.29
5. Veronica Kubinova Czech Republic 1.22.28
6. Nadia Larsson Sweden 1.23.50
12. Clare Dallimore Great Britain 1.26.07