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2003 MTB World championships - CM
Lugano, Switzerland, August 30 - September 7, 2003
September 3 - Team Relay - Preview
Poland win another Gold
By Kristy Scrymgeour
The Polish team won the team relay today by 1'23" over Switzerland and defending champions Canada. Leading for the majority of the race but falling behind in the third lap due to the fact that the Swiss and the Canadians rode their women last, they had to regain position on the last lap.Their junior rider, Kryspin Pyrgies came through for the team and overtook Barbara Blatter (Switzerland) and Chrissy Redden (Canada) early in the lap. From there he held the lead to gain the second Gold medal for the strong Polish team.
The team relay consists of four members from each country completing one lap each of the cross country course. Teams must only announce their teams the night before the event and they may start in any order. The majority of the teams started with their strongest rider (elite male) and finished with their elite woman in this years relay, a tactic that some say is important and others say doesn't matter. In any case the Polish team were the strongest team out on the track today and took home the Gold.
How it unfolded
Lap one saw the Polish team take the lead with their elite male, Marcin Karcznski getting the fastest start. Swiss rider Ralph Naf was right his heels and Canada's Roland Green was steadily closing the gap as the lap progressed. Riding in fourth and position was the German team who had a strong start list on paper.
By the end of lap one Green had almost caught Naf, who finished the lap16 seconds behind Karczski. Poland's second rider Piotr Formicki (U/23) also pulled of a very fast time keeping his team in the lead at the end of the second lap with the Swiss still leading Canada by 16 seconds, however this time the Danish junior rider, Jakob Fuglsang rode a splitting time to bring his team into third overall at the end of lap two.
In lap three the Polish rode their elite woman, Anna Szafraniec against most of the other team's junior men. It was here that Canada, Switzerland and Denmark overtook the Polish by the end of the third lap. Most impressive was Canadian Junior, Max Plaxton who brought his team back up to the lead with a lap time of 18'14". Meawhile the Germans had fallen back into sixth place after suffering two flat tyres.
Chrissie Redden (Canada) and Barbara Blatter (Switzerland) began the lap together with a 10 second lead over the Polish junior male both knowing that 10 seconds was not really going to be enough to keep the lead. "I knew I had no chance against the polish junior in the last lap so I was riding for second place." Explained Blatter later.
Sure enough Kryspin caught the pair 1km into the final lap and kept the lead all the way home. It was then a battle for second place between Canada and Swizerland. Blatter, confident with her climbing ability made her move shortly after. "I attacked on the paved climb and got away. We, of course, would have been more happy with Gold, but a medal is also good."
Crowd's of spectators and teammates nervously awaited the arrival of the first rider to come into view for the finale and it was the Polish team who errupted with excitement as Kryspin arrived at the finish line to take the win. 1'23" later, Blatter arrived to take silver, whilst Redden held onto third place, 20" down on Switzerland.
The Polish team was all smiles after the race as they celebrated their second gold medal of the championships. The final rider Pyrgies explained his thoughts of the last lap. "As soon as I passed the two girls (Redden and Blatter) I knew I could win it because the first three teams had a good gap on the rest.. From there I just went hard until the end."
The Polish coach was very happy with his teams performance. "We went in the same order as we did in the European Championships. It worked there so we did it
again. We were also pretty confident of the fitness of our Junior (Kryspin Pyrgies) and we knew that if we were behind he would have a good chance of catching up. We were here at this course for the Swiss Cups last year and we arrived here two weeks ago so the course was familiar for us."
Of their three year old MTB,program which has already shown itself to be successful this week, he said. "We have a good program with good support and good sponsors (Polish lotto and an insurance company) and our team is a trade team as well as a national team. It has taken a few years to build up, but each year you can see the progress."
Canada was "going for gold" according to Chrissy Redden, but they were happy with their Bronze medal. Roland Green commented, "Any time you win a medal it is exciting so I am happy with Bronze. It says a lot about our program (that we medal each year), we are very consistent."
Images by Kristy Scrymgeour
1 Poland 1.13.37 Marcin Karcznski (EM), Piotr Formicki (U23), Anna Szafraniec (EW), Kryspin Pyrgies (JM) 2 Switzerland 1.23 Ralph Naf (EM), Balz Weber (U23), Nino Schurter (JM), Barbara Blatter (EW) 3 Canada 1.43 Roland Green (EM), Ricky Federau (U23), Max Plaxton (JM), Christina Redden (EW) 4 Spain 2.30 Carlos Coloma (U23), Jordi Membrado Vila (JM), Janet Puiggros (EW), Josť A. Hermida (EM) 5 Denmark 2.48 Peter Riis Andersen (EM), Jakob Fuglsang (JM), Jacob Kieldsen (U23), Mette Andersen (EW) 6 Germany 3.01 Lado Fumic (EM), Manuel Fumic (U23), Florian Ackermann (JM), Sabine Spitz (EW) 7 Sweden 3.12 Philip Tavell (EM), Emil Lindgren (JM), Anna Ennocsson (EW), Calle Friberg (U23) 8 Australia 4.00 Brent Miller (U23), Perren Delacour (EM), James Maebus (JM), Anna Baylis (EW) 9 Czech Republic 6.21 Milan Spesny (EM), Michael Talavasek (U23), Katerina Hanusova (EW), Jaroslav Kulhavy (JM) 10 Mexico 7.03 Madrigal Zironda (EM), Ivan Ordones (JM), Morfin Lorenza (EW), Valencia Emanuel (U23) 11 Nederlands 7.41 Tijs Al (EM), Jelmer Pietersma (U23), Hans Becking (JM), Daphny van den Brand (EW) 12 United States of America 8.07 Jeremy Horgan (EM), Shonny Vanlandingham (EW), John Devine (JM), Barry Wicks (U23) 13 Ukraine 9.42 Aleksandr Yakimenko (JM), Igor Bogdan (U23), Vitality Tsurkan (EM), Kateryna Yarova (EW) 14 Great Britain 12.22 Phil Dixon (EM), Simon Richardson (U23), Ian Legg (JM), Jenny Copnall (EW)