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MTB world championships - CM
Rotorua, New Zealand, August 22-27, 2006
Race 3 - August 23: Under-23 women cross-country
Chengyuan Ren heralds Chinese charge in women's cross-country
By Rob Jones
This is the first year for the Espoir women championship category, and 29 riders lined up for the start. Chengyuan Ren of China was the prohibitive favourite, as the leading Espoir on the World Cup circuit, and a top-10 finisher in World Cup races during the season. Ren did not disappoint, as she and team mate Liu Ying rode away from the field on the first climb, with Ren dropping her team mate on the second lap of the four lap race to solo in for China's first world title in mountain biking. Liu easily made it 1-2 for China, with Sarah Koba giving Switzerland a second bronze medal for the day.
After Ren and Liu showed the pack their heels, Koba and Eva Lechner (Italy) took up the chase, but were nearly a minute down by the end of the first lap. Lechner faded the next lap, leaving Koba alone in third, with Tereza Hurikova (Czech Republic) passing Lechner into fourth.
The front three looked to be set, and the only other change in the top five was when Lechner faded further to be displaced by Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland) for fifth. Ren and Liu continued to wide their lead, displaying neither emotion nor visible effort as they rode. Crossing the line, neither rider raised their arms nor even cracked a smile, leaving it to third place Koba to celebrate her medal.
On the podium, Ren finally gave one shy smile while posing for photos. In the subsequent press conference, both athletes were cautious with their responses, often looking over to the team manager before replying (through a translator). Ren did say "this is a new era for Chinese mountain biking. We are working to improve and get better in our technique. The main reason that we have gotten better (so quickly) is by learning from other athletes and going to major events to improve. To get better for the Beijing Olympics is great motivation"
Ren was asked what she would do to celebrate her victory. "There is no time to celebrate. We have competition as soon as we get home."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
Images by Mikkeli Godfree/Cyclingnews.com
1 Ren Chengyuan (People's Republic Of China) 1.31.17 (15.51 km/h) 2 Ying Liu (People's Republic Of China) 1.38 3 Sarah Koba (Switzerland) 4.56 4 Tereza Hurikova (Czech Republic) 6.35 5 Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland) 7.56 6 Eva Lechner (Italy) 8.15 7 Nina Homovec (Slovenia) 8.46 8 Elisabeth Osl (Austria) 9.13 9 Amy Hunt (Great Britain) 10.07 10 Adelheid Morath (Germany) 12.40 11 Chloe Forsman (United States Of America) 12.53 12 Jenna Zander (United States Of America) 13.21 13 Evelyn Staffler (Italy) 13.47 14 Laura Metzler (France) 14.21 15 Maureen Guichardot (France) 15.23 16 Hanna Klein (Germany) 15.27 17 Tereza Jonsova (Czech Republic) 15.49 18 Carissa Wilkes (New Zealand) 16.13 19 Meghan Kindree (Canada) 16.43 20 Jean Ann Mc Kirdy (Canada) 17.23 21 Francisca Campos Salas (Chile) 20.40 22 Michelle Hyland (New Zealand) 22.22 23 Catherine Vipond (Canada) 23.16 24 Evgenia Belozerova (Russian Federation) 27.32 One lap behind 25 Michelle Bellamy (New Zealand) 26 Fiona Lindsay (New Zealand) DNS Caroline Mani (France) DNS Lauren Koedyk (New Zealand) DNS Chelsea Wills (New Zealand)