The European riders proved too good on their home course as the Australian junior riders were on show on the second day of the UCI MTB World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Defending champion Cameron Wright finished inside the top 10 in sixth place, with Matthew Dinham (35th), Sam Fox (41), Sam Walsh (54) and Corey Smith (77).
Wright said he was making time up during the technical sections on the six laps but it was the climbs where the European riders were getting the better of him. “The last lap hurt into that bitumen climb and two blokes got past me and I managed to hunt one down towards the end and didn’t have enough in the end to catch the other guy.”
Dinham, who had the number two plate, had to fight his way back from the back of the pack after getting caught out on the single-track during the first loop. “Hit the first root section and got a bit excited, slipped out and crashed which broke my shoe buckle and spent while trying to fix it and that saw me slip way back. I tried to fight my way back.
There was also plenty of soul-searching for Fox who ended had to endure cramps during stages of the race. “I had no power today even though I felt good on the course and the technical sections I was just getting passed.”
Walsh, who was competing in his first world championship, said he worked a lot on his climbing ahead of the race but knows there’s more work to do for next time around. “It was so brutal but happy with how I competed and it was an awesome experience my legs won’t forget.”
In the junior women, there was plenty of eyes on Zoe Cuthbert in her maiden championship ride after the team relay. The junior Australian champion admitted she was incredibly nervous on the start line but said once the gun went she focused on her race, where she would finish in 20th place after four laps.
“I didn’t know what to expect and my aim was to finish, and I did that which was great. I’m just very grateful to be here.”
Despite a crash earlier in the week during training, Teagan Atherstone turned up to the start line with her ever-present smile ready for an expected 4 brutal laps. The Victorian looked strong early before she would she too would suffer at the hands of the climbing Europeans to finish in 47th.