Canadian mountain bikers medal at World Championships, led by Roland Green
Once again Roland Green made it look easy. From start to finish the 27-year-old Green led the way in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Vail, Colorado last weekend, holding off challengers on the climbs and mastering the technical descents.
In the words of Greens team sponsors, Trek Bikes and Volkswagen: "The course in Vail had something to challenge every rider. The three main loops had long steep climbs matched with tight and twisting descents. The course was designed to reward the best rider in the world and crush those who werent prepared."
Green won the overall Word Cup title in August with a dramatic victory at Mont Sainte Marie, Quebec. A win in the high profile World Championships is the pinnacle of a remarkable season.
Not only was Green the first racer to win a World Cup cross-country race on a full suspension bike, he was the first Canadian male to win a World Cup, the World Cup title, and the world champions rainbow jersey.
"Im a little stunned right now," Green told reporters as he prepared to don the fabled jersey. "Ive been dreaming about this all year and now that its happened its the best feeling in the world."
With the Worlds taking place at over 2,800 metres, Green said he paced himself throughout the race.
Green and Denmarks Michael Rasmussen left the rest of the pack behind before reaching the halfway point, and it looked like it was going to be a close race for first until Rasmussen flatted out. Two Swiss riders, Christoph Sauser and Thomas Frishknecht then took up the chase, but they couldnt gain much ground on the Canadian.
Green finished the 27 mile course in one hour 58 minutes and 52 seconds, 44 seconds ahead of Frishcknecht and 50 seconds up on Sauser.
Seamus McGrath of Ontario was the next Canadian in 19 th . Geoff Kabush was 28 th , Andreas Hestler 34 th , and Mathieu Toulouse 48 th .
Alison Sydor, a three-time world champion, came close to making it two gold medals for Canada with an early lead, but settled for the silver medal as Alison Dunlap of the U.S. found her legs and pulled ahead on the last lap. Just 12 seconds separated the two cyclists. Sabine Spitz of Germany finished 50 seconds back.
Other Canadians to finish include Chrissy Redden in 14 th , Trish Sinclair in 20 th , Lesley Tomlinson in 23 rd and Claire Townsend in 33 rd .
Ryder Hesjedal, Greens training partner, battled for first with Julien Absalon of France in the Under 23 championship before the altitude got to him. He fell behind but managed to finish second, 1 minute 38 seconds back. Walker Ferguson of the U.S. was third.
In the mens junior race, Adam Coates of Saskatchewan was the top Canadian in 15 th place. Whistlers Will Routley was 44 th out of more than 100 competitors.
Canada also won a gold medal in the cross country relay competition, with the team of Green, Hesjedal, Redden and Coates blowing away the competition.
Hesjedal, Sydor and Green in his rainbow jersey, will line up in this weekends Cheakamus Challenge race from Brackendale to Whistler.
In downhill competition at Vail, Darcy Turenne of Quebec was Canadas top finisher, taking eighth overall in the junior womens race. Jordie Lunn of North Vancouver was ninth in the junior men, and Whistlers Jeff Beatty finished 15 th , less than 15 seconds off the lead.
Like all major events, the World Championships were delayed out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. More than 12,000 people, in Vail to watch the races, attended a memorial ceremony.