A gutsy effort from current World Cup leader Rebecca Henderson has seen her claim tenth place in the under 23 women’s cross country race at the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships on Friday afternoon.
On Thursday evening it looked as though Henderson would not make it to the start line following a fall during the official afternoon training session which left her with a large cut above her eye and a severely bruised right wrist.
To further hamper the London Olympian’s efforts, Henderson was knocked off her bike by a fellow competitor attempting to pass on a narrow single track inside the first lap of Friday’s race.
“It definitely wasn’t my day today, but I did everything I could do to get the best possible result,” said Henderson, 22, who has not finished lower than second in any of the five 2013 UCI World Cups.
“It wasn’t just a physical, but also a mental battle today. When you are used to fighting for podium positions at World Cups, it is very hard to be fighting in tenth to fifteenth at the World Championships.
“But I did what I could do and I am very happy with my efforts, but obviously not the result I was after.”
The field of 37 riders met with completely different weather to the hot, dry and windy conditions experienced over the first few days of competition, with a drop in temperatures, slight wind and the threat of rain at the Pietermaritzburg track.
Reigning under 23 world champion Jolanda Neff (SUI) made her intentions clear from the start as she established an early break on the field which she never relinquished.
It was a clinical display over the remaining five laps from Neff as she rode away a confortable winner from France’s Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Yana Belomoyna (UKR). Henderson finished just a tick over ten minutes in arrears.
“Usually I am the one setting the pace on the descents and then trying to hang on during the climbs, but today I was losing all my time on the descents,” said Henderson.
“I would put ten seconds into someone on the climb, but they would catch straight back up on the descent. It was getting really frustrating.
“I was definitely aiming for a podium today. Anything outside of a top five I was going to be disappointed with, I mean that’s just how it goes when you finish no lower than second during the season.
“It certainly is a very difficult result to take on the chin, but I am just happy there is another World Cup event to go.
“Hopefully I can put all this behind me there and still hold onto the leader’s jersey,” added Henderson, who has two weeks to prepare for the final World Cup round in Norway.
In the under 23 men’s race, Victoria’s Mick Crosbie finished 39th in a rain affected affair.