UCI Mountain Bike World Championships: Switzerland & Austria take first world titles in Andorra
A total of 16 women and 32 men qualified for the competition, where they raced in heats of four riders at a time, with the top two moving on to the next round, until there were only four left to race for the final. The 900 metre circuit saw the riders sprint to get the front position before a series of zig-zag turns that took them into a singletrack wooded section. A steep climb out of the woods onto the finishing straight left a final opportunity for a fast finisher to possibly move up before the line.
Switzerland dominated the women's heats, putting three riders among the four finalists: Indergand, defending champion Kathrin Stirnemann and Ramona Forchini. Ingrid Boe Jacobsen (Norway) took the last spot. Indergand took the lead into the first corner and opened a sizable gap up the final climb, to cruise to the line. Boe Jacobsen spoiled a Swiss 1-2 with a final 100 metre sprint that just put her in front of Stirnemann for the silver medal.
"It felt like I was flying," stated Indergand, "but it was a really tough one. The start was really hard, and then it's overwhelming me now. Really crazy. Three Swiss in the final and that's great. For the sprint you really have some luck, and today was my lucky day. This time I have a bit more luck [after finishing second last year]."
The men's field boasted all of the previous World Champions for this discipline - Ralph Naef (Switzerland), Paul van der Ploeg (Australia) and defending champion Fabrice Mels (Belgium). Showing the depth of talent in the field, none of them would make the final. Federspiel was joined in the final by Samuel Gaze (New Zealand), Simon Gegenheimer (Germany) and Kevin Miquel (France).
The Austrian, who had previously won the World Cup and European Championship titles, sprinted to the front on the first descent and never relinquished the lead. Behind, Gegenheimer moved into second place, but was challenged in the final sprint by Gaze, who passed him for silver with a bike throw at the line.
"This was my goal the last three years," said an ecstatic Federspiel, "and now my dream comes true. I am so happy. This was one of my best races. I am just so happy. For the final my plan was that I ride in front, so I can choose my own lines. This was my favourite type of finish line, at more than 150 metres. Now I have reached my goal., I have all the titles in this discipline. I am really happy."
Action continues Wednesday on tv.uci.ch.