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Canadian riders endure tough world championships



The Canadian mountain bike team had a rough world championships at Fort William, Scotland with wet weather from start to finish, and several riders are returning home with injuries.

In the cross-country races, where Canada is usually guaranteed a few spots in the top-10 on the men’s side, Seamus McGrath was the top male in 31 st place — almost seven minutes back of Julien Absalon of France. Ralph Naef and Florian Vogel of Switzerland placed second and third respectively.

Geoff Kabush was 50 th , and Ricky Federau 62 nd .

On the women’s side, Marie-Helene Premont of Quebec managed to place fourth, behind Irina Kalentieva of Russia, Sabine Spitz of Germany and Jingjing Wang of the recently impressive Chinese team. Kiara Bisaro just missed the top-10, finishing 11 th .

In the Under 23 category, Squamish rider Neal Kindree was the top Canadian in 24 th place after a slow start.

“Generally I’m a slow starter so I expected to lose some spots and have to ride back, but it was pretty easy to pass,” he said. “I was hoping for a top-10, but I think it was a solid ride, so I’m pretty happy.”

Max Plaxton, who finished on the podium last year, had to settle for 28 th place after his rear brake conked out and he had to make a pit stop. Raphael Gagne was ranked as high as 17 th , but was forced to pull out when he damaged his chain and the crews couldn’t repair it in time.

The win went to Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark, followed by Nino Schurter of Switzerland and Jaroslav Kulhavy of Czech Republic.

Emily Batty placed 10 th in the women’s Under 23 category, as the only Canadian in the race. Liu Ying and Ren Chengyuan of China took the top two spots, followed by Elisabeth Osl of Austria.

But if Canada had a rough ride in the cross-country categories, things would turn nasty for the downhill. With a long, challenging course, and rain blowing sideways in the qualifying runs, it was rough going for the athletes.

Australia’s Sam Hill regained the championship title with a less-than-perfect run, followed by Fabien Barel of France and Gee Atherton of Great Britain.

Steve Chan was the top Canadian in 41 st place, more than 27 seconds back of Hill. Whistler’s Tyler Morland was 45 th , and Jeff Beatty placed 52 nd .

On the women’s side, Sabrina Jonnier of France held on to win despite the fact she broke her derailleur and made a couple of mistakes. Luckily her closest competitors also struggled, and she regained her title.

Rachel Atheron of Great Britain placed second, and Tracey Hannah of Australia was third. Tracy Moseley and FIonn Griffiths of Great Britain rounded out the top-five.

Whistler’s Claire Buchar had a solid day, placing 15 th , with Micayla Gatto following closely in 17 th out of 37 starters.

The juniors suffered the worst. Steve Smith crashed in his run after placing third in the qualifier, but managed to finish 11 th . He blamed the crash on his hand, which he injured during two crashes during training.

Hans Lambert was the top Canadian junior in seventh place out of more than 60 starters.

On the women’s side, Miranda Miller had to be taken to the hospital after a bad crash, and is recovering with a broken collar bone.