Italians finish first to take second win in a row in team event

2013-08-29 00:00

IL Canto degli Italiani was the first national anthem played at the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships at Cascades early yesterday evening.

This was after the Azzuri crossed the finish line first after a tussle with the French, Germans and Canadians in the cross-country team event.

At the changeover for the final lap, it seemed the Canadians would be in with a chance as they had a lead of over one minute. But their gamble of going with a female cyclist at the end did not pay off.

Canadian Sandra Walter was reeled in and passed by Italy’s Gerhard Kerschbaumer, France’s Maxime Marotte and Germany’s Manuel Fumic, and they could only finish in fourth.

For the first two laps, the South African team of Philip Buys, James Reid, Mariska Strauss and her younger brother Sybrand were placed in fifth behind New Zealand, but were overtaken by Switzerland in the third lap and dropped down to seventh.

The home team suffered misfortune when the younger Strauss took a tumble and had to run the last 700 metres of the course to finish in a credible 10th spot. Strauss, the youngest member of the team that must feature one elite men’s cyclist, one elite woman, an under-23 and a junior rider, said he was bruised but not hurt.

After finishing, he told The Witness the team did well and that they enjoyed racing against the world’s top cross-country cyclists.

“I’d like to say thanks to everyone that came out to support us,” a very tired Strauss said. He added that he could hear the cheers from the home crowd as he was making his way along the track.

For the Italian team, Eva Lechner said they were ecstatic to win yet another title.

“This is our second one in a row,” he said.

“It is great. It means we are a strong team,” she said.

On their strategy, they took a similar approach as the other teams and started with their elite rider, while the second placed French started with their under-23.

“We will celebrate a little this evening, but we will focus on the events still to come,” she added.

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