Rachel Anders Reports from the 2016 Mountain Bike World Championships in the Czech Republic
July 3, 2016 – Czech Republic
The U23 and Elite races were held the last two days here in Czech.
In Saturday morning's U23 race, it took Keegan Swenson a couple laps to get feeling well, but he made up ground from the mid-70's to finishing 37th at the end of 5 hot and humid laps. Kiwi Sam Gaze (NZL) took the win with an impressive lead.
The elite women's race later that day was by far the most dramatic, epic and exciting race I've ever seen! To start off, Gunn-Rita Dahle (Norway) ate it hard on the starting pavement, only 200m or so into the race. The lead group stayed together until Annika Langvad (Denmark) took the lead on the 2nd lap and never looked back. Meanwhile, last year's World Champ, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France), had face-planted in a rock garden.
On the last lap it was Langvad leading, with the American Lea Davison riding strong in 4th until two girls ahead of her flatted. Davison had an emotional second place finish, right ahead of a sprint finish for bronze.
The other American elite women did amazingly well, too, with 4 women inside the top 15. For team points, USA elite women were ranked 1st ahead of any other country that day, the first time that's happened in 20 years!
- Annika Langvad (Denmark)
- Lea Davison (USA)
- Emily Batty (Canada)
- Erin Huck (USA)
- Chloe Woodruff (USA)
- Georgia Gould (USA)
- Mary McConneloug (USA)
- Rose Grant (USA)
- Larissa Connors (USA)
During the U23 Women's race on Sunday, American Kate Courtney crashed on the start lap but worked her way back up to finish 18th. Park City's Sofia Gomez-Villafane, racing for Argentina, had a strong race even with a crash on the last lap, finishing 29th. Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) took the win for the day by over a minute.
The Elite men's race was probably the biggest event of the weekend (a little sexist, I think) with gigantic crowds and even an air show before the race. Colorado's Howard Grotts (the Olympic pick for Rio) had a great race, finishing 21st of over 100 starters in his first year racing Elite. Nino Schurter (Switzerland) took the win. Meanwhile, a few teammates and I were decked out in red, white and blue, cheering our lungs out and trying desperately to get on Redbull TV.
- Nino Schurter (Switzerland)
- Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Rep)
- Julien Absalon (France)
- Howard Grotts (USA)
- Stephen Ettinger (USA)
63. Spencer Paxson (USA)
Anyway, it's been an awesome trip to the Czech Republic and great to share all the races with everyone back home!
Story by Rachel Anders
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