The hottest day of the week combined with the toughest course of the week due to the number of steep slopes demanding a lot from the riders after the previous day’s exertions in the Mass Start race.
The courses were as expected with lots of route choice on the short legs, with the shorter options usually being on the slower tracks and involving more intense navigation but rewarding those who were able to navigate these without error. The early part of the men’s course caught out a number of contenders (including Great Britain’s Ian Nixon who was in 71st at the 1st control) with few riders picking the optimum route on successive legs, but it was last year’s Sprint World Champion Grigory Medvedev (Russia) who took the early lead, ahead by 40 seconds at #4 from Baptiste Fuchs (France) and Anton Foliforov (Russia). The hills came in quick succession after crossing the river, the 2nd of which caused some controversy as the GPS tracks showed a number of riders cutting through the forest and gaining time but being reinstated after initially being disqualified, but Swiss rider Simon Braendli got through this section without a problem and moved into the lead. Nixon was gradually moving up the field and had pulled up to 63rd by this point. The hills kept coming as the heat relented and the planner had used a few carefully placed controls to try and catch out those who weren’t attentive, and Nixon was navigating well and had pulled up to 56th. The longest leg towards the end of the course didn’t prove critical as most riders chose the fastest route, but the next leg proved decisive as the overprint of #18 was not very clear on the map and a number of riders missed this control out. A fast ride down a ski slope to the penultimate control caused a few issues due to the high-speed entry into the woodland area and the contrasting dark forest from the glaring sunshine, but the overall result was never in doubt as Branedli had built up an unassailable lead which he extended to win by more than a minute from Fuchs. Nixon made good ground over the last part of the course having been caught by a small group and ended in 44th, the highest placing by a British male in the middle race for 8 years.
In the women’s race, a similar starting loop caught a number of riders out and large gaps appearing. Olga Shipilova (Russia) took an early lead aiming to make amends for yesterday’s disqualification, but only 8 other riders within 2 minutes. As the rider’s hit the big hills there was a pair of Russian’s, Czech’s and Finn’s leading the race, with Great Britain’s Clare Dallimore up into 7th. The long leg to number 8 threw up a couple of route choices, where Martina Tichovska (Czech Republic) moved into the lead, but the short leg to 9 caused problems for a lot of riders and allowed Veronika Kubinova to move into a 20-second lead. The lead changed hands a couple more times with Shipilova regaining the lead after choosing the optimum route to number 12. Dallimore got the best route here and moved up into 4th place. The women had a similar end to men’s course but avoided the issues of disqualifications, and as such the positions stayed as they were for the podium places to the finish despite a bit of time loss on the last few controls for some of the faster riders. This gave Clare her best ever result at a World Championships and her first trip to the podium.
Men 18.4km, 630m
44. Ian Nixon, Great Britain 1.27.14
Women 15.4km, 520m
4. Clare Dallimore, Great Britain 1.14.10