Alessandra Keller of Switzerland became the Junior Women's Cross-country world champion, while Lukas Baum of Germany won the Junior Men's Cross-country title.
Both riders won in similar fashions - attack in the first half of the race to open a gap and then ride their own pace and avoid making mistakes in the second half. The heat and dust took their toll on riders as the races progressed, and some riders who started well faded in the final laps.
Emilie Collomb of Italy took the lead at the start of the Junior women's four lap race, but Keller and Sarah Bauer of Germany came through the end of the first lap together only a few seconds back, and Keller then surged into the lead on the second lap. By the halfway point in the race Keller was 22 seconds up on Collomb, and Bauer was still dangling six seconds back of the Italian. The three riders maintained their positions for the remainder of the race, with the gaps growing, so that Keller took the world title by 46 seconds over Collomb, and one minute and one second ahead of Bauer.
"I did not know what to expect," said Keller. "This is my first year as a Junior, so to win is incredible. The Italian girl was very fast at the start, but I rode at my own pace and was able to catch her in the second lap. After that I just focussed on my own riding."
The Junior men's race saw one rider at the front for almost the entire five laps - winner Lukas Baum. Behind, there was a constant reshuffling of the chase, but Baum was clearly in a class of his own. The German rider came into the race as a strong favourite, after winning the European title a few weeks ago, to go with his national title.
Baum was riding with Frenchman Raphael Gay on the first lap, as the pair opened a 25 second gap on a chase group containing Peter Disera (Canada), Jan Vastl (Czech Republic) and Georg Egger (Germany). However, Gay crashed in lap two, taking down Baum with him. Baum was able to quickly get on his bike and continue on in the lead alone, but the French rider had flatted, falling to ninth before getting a wheel change in the pits.
Disera, Egger and Vastl rode together until they were also joined by Gioele Bertolini (Italy) on lap three. This group stayed together until Disera was able to open a gap on the fourth lap, when Egger crashed behind him. The Canadian steadily extended his lead through the remaining lap and a half to take silver, with Bertolini taking bronze, only a few seconds ahead of a resurgent Raphael Gay.
"With my coach, Wolfram Kurschat, I have been preparing all year for this race," said Baum. "I knew I was strong, but then when [Gay] crashed on the second lap, I crashed into him, and went over him and my bars went sideways.. After that I had to be more careful in all the technical sections because my bars were not straight."
"I must have done something right," quipped Baum, when asked about his near perfect season.
The individual cross-country action continues on Friday with the Under-23 women and men races. Medal finals will also take place in the Downhill for Junior women and men, and the 20" Trials for Junior and Elite men.
Fans from around the world can follow the UCI MTB World Championships via live streaming at www.redbulltv.com/bike, starting with the Cross-country Elite Women on Saturday at 12:30 pm (local), 11:30 am (GMT).
Video of the action