World Mountain Bike Championships - CDM

Vail, Colorado, USA, September 12 - 16, 2001

2000 Results    Main page   Results

Day 1 - September 13: Team relay

Canadian team takes first medals

US team report by Patrice Quintero, USA Cycling

A strong and unstoppable Canadian team captured first place in the team relay, while Australia and Spain took second and third, respectively. The race was originally slated for Wednesday, but race organizers moved the event to today given Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

The team relay is comprised of four riders - one elite man, one elite woman, one espoir (under-23) man and one junior male - from each participating country. Each rider completes one cross-country lap. The order of riders is left up to each team director and is not usually revealed until the day of the race. A transition area allows riders to pass the "baton", which this year was a white sweatband worn on the arm.

Canada went out hard, fielding U23 phenom Ruder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and World Cup champion Roland Green (Trek-Volkswagen) first to give the team the advantage of leading into a clear course. Junior Adam Coates took the two minute lead he was handed by Green over then second-placed Germany and extended it to four minutes before Chrissy Redden took the baton to the finish.

Redden was on course against Australia's Cadel Evans, the Aussies having elected to save their fastest till last, but Evans was unable to completely close the 6.24 gap, "running out of time" still 26 seconds behind Redden. In the process, though, Evans passed Swiss and German riders and then Jose Hermida of Spain who remarked, "He was like a plane. His speed was incredible. It was impossible to stay on his wheel."

USA Cycling's world mountain bike squad took ninth place. The 2001 American team relay team was comprised of Susan Haywood (Davis, W. Va.), Todd Wells (Tucson, Ariz.), Walker Ferguson (Norwood, Colo.) and Nick Waite (Davis, W. Va.).

The Americans got off to a good start, with Wells (elite male) shooting off at the start for what is considered in mountain bike racing to be a "hot lap", 21 minutes and 58 seconds. The past collegiate champion came into the transition area in second behind Canada, who already had 30 second lead on the field.

"It was pretty good. It was like any start of a race ... you go as hard as you can, but not so hard that you detonate," Wells said. "It's hard to be comfortable when you go that hard. Ryder (Hesjedal, from Canada) attacked and I just couldn't go that hard. After awhile I settled in and just went hard on the downhills. Just to ride up there with some of the best riders in the world was great for me." Junior star Waite took the handoff from Wells for the second lap. Waite was up against Canada's junior racer and other international stars like 2000 Australian Olympian Mary Grigson.

"It was hard. I told myself 'C'mon man, you can push it a little harder.' It's hard to stay steady though with the hard effort and the legs fill up. I had fun though and the sections I was worried about before, I rode clean," said Waite, who came in fifth at the end of his lap. Midway through the race, Canada's stronghold increased to two minutes over second-place Germany.

Reigning national short-track cross-country champion Haywood was the third American sent out. Haywood is familiar with team events, scoring several victories on the team 24-hour racing circuit. Haywood commented that the tough men's field with her on the lap provided a challenge. "The steady climbing ... that was intense. It was mentally intense too knowing your country and team are waiting for you and counting on you," said Haywood. "I knew what to expect with a team event because of the 24 hour racing I do. Except in 24 hour racing, I'm used to winning or coming in second place. It was a good warm-up for this weekend." Going into the fourth and final lap, the Americans stood in seventh. Cycling phenom and 2000 World Junior Champion Ferguson was left to take the team to the finish line. Out of the transition area, the Polish team quickly caught Ferguson, and later the Italian team overcame him. "I didn't feel great. I've done easy riding this week, so the first hard effort was tough. It gave me a chance to open though for tomorrow," Ferguson said.

The team from Great Britain was disqualified from the race after accepting mechanical help for a busted tire. The GB riders were reported as being aware they would be DQed, but decided to continue anyway for the training.


1 Canada                               1.35.13
2 Australia                               0.26
3 Spain                                   0.50
4 France                                  1.41
5 Switzerland                             2.14
6 Germany                                 3.26
7 Poland                                  4.35
8 Italy                                   4.36
9 United States                           4.55
10 Austria                                5.53
11 New Zealand                           12.36
12 Slovenia                              13.01
DSQ Great Britain