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Mountain Bike World Championships - CM
Fort William, Scotland, September 4-9, 2007
Race 3 - September 5: U23 women cross country, 34.22km
Favourites don't disappoint
By Robert Jones in Fort William
The Chinese duo of Ren Chengyuan, the defending champion and Liu Ying were the obvious favourites for the U23 womens title after finishing first and second last year in Rotorua, New Zealand. Ren, the winner of a World Cup this year and the leading U23 rider on the World Cup circuit seemed likely to repeat, but it was team mate Liu who took the title after Ren faded in the second half of the race and then crashed on the last lap while chasing. Austria's Elisabeth Osl, silver medalist in the juniors back in 2002, took a lock on third early in the race and held on for the bronze medal.
By the end of the first lap in the four lap race, Ren had a 10 second lead on Liu, with Osl, Eva Lechner (Italy), Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland), Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Poland) and Nina Homovec (Slovenia) together at 47 seconds.
"By the top of the climb I was always third," explained Osl "but by the bottom the group behind would catch me because I was more careful on the descent. I could tell I was the strongest in the group, so I was able to pull away on the final lap."
While the battle was going on for third behind them, the front pair was fighting it out for the rainbow jersey. At the halfway point Ren was still in the lead, but couldn't drop her team-mate. A lap later, and it was Liu slightly in front as the pair began the last lap, and by the finish the gap was an unexpected three and a half minutes.
"I crashed on the final lap" explained Ren "but that wasn't the reason that I lost. Today I just felt more tired than Liu. Yes, I am sad that I am not the champion again, but it was not my day today."
Liu said very little in the post-race press conference, except for expressing her confidence: "Yes, I expected to win today." However, the smiles which kept erupting on the face of a rider who is normally very reticent told a different story.
Canadian champion Emily Batty was the top North American in the race, finishing a career-high tenth. Batty rode consistently in 9th to 11th place to finish 11:27 down on Liu.
"I'm really pleased with my race. I finished 13th and 14th as a Junior (Under-19), and this race is longer and much faster. I pretty much held onto my position the whole race; I managed to get up to ninth for a little while but the other girl made surge and got back again."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
1 Liu Ying (People's Republic Of China) 1.45.43 (19.43 km/h) 2 Chengyuan Ren (People's Republic Of China) 3.31 3 Elisabeth Osl (Austria) 5.20 4 Tereza Hurikova (Czech Republic) 5.50 5 Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Poland) 6.17 6 Nina Homovec (Slovenia) 8.24 7 Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland) 10.04 8 Tanja Zakelj (Slovenia) 10.37 9 Hanna Klein (Germany) 10.42 10 Emiliy Batty (Canada) 11.27 11 Julie Krasniak (France) 12.45 12 Alexandra Engen (Sweden) 13.20 13 Caroline Mani (France) 13.40 14 Amy Hunt (Great Britain) 14.18 15 Eva Lechner (Italy) 15.33 16 Laura Metzler (France) 15.39 17 Nataliya Krompets (Ukraine) 16.12 18 Karolina Kozela (Poland) 17.24 19 Vera Andreeva (Russian Federation) 17.32 20 Agnes Naumann (Germany) 18.21 21 Liliya Zaytseva (Ukraine) 18.23 22 Francisca Campos Salas (Chile) 20.08 23 Bettina Schmid (Switzerland) 21.25 24 Caitlyn Tuel (United States Of America) 22.48 25 Chloe Forsman (United States Of America) 25.18 26 Judith Pollinger (Italy) 26.22 One lap down 27 Semra Yetis (Turkey) Two laps down 28 Carla Freysen (South Africa)