Thousands of fans came out on Saturday to witness one of the great performances on a mountain bike course at the 2018 UCI MTB World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
While the elite men’s race went to plan, with home-town hero Nino Schurter (SUI) winning the gold medal, it was a momentous upset in the women with first-year elite Kate Courtney (USA) snatching victory ahead of Denmark’s Annika Langvad (DEN).
Aussies Holly Harris (52nd), Imogen Smith (53rd ) and Sarah Riley (55th) tried to push their way through a strong women’s field.
Harris, who was racing in her first elite women’s world championship after moving up from Under 23’s said it was an experience. “It was pretty amazing. It was a roller-coaster.”
“Race didn’t go to plan, but I’m happy cause I know my legs are there so next year watch out.”
For Smith, it was a life experience that she would never forget.
“The thing I wasn’t prepared for was the sound. The noise blew my mind and the number of people yelling for Australia and to cheer that hard for someone coming in 50.”
Switzerland’s Jolanda Neff missed the podium by one spot with Emily Batty (CAN) taking the bronze.
The excitement level then went up a notch with a stacked men’s field, but it was no worries for Schurter who along with Gerhard Kerschbaumer (ITA) cleared out from the chasing pack at the start of the seven laps.
The defending champion rode home on a wave of support from the Swiss fans to take another rainbow jersey.
For Australians Daniel McConnell (63rd) and Sebastian Jayne (73rd) it was a tough day in the saddle to make any headway over the seven laps. “It was so fast, it was just a blur from start to finish,” Jayne said post-race.
“It was amazing, the atmosphere, the whole track was lined three deep with Swiss fans but cheering everyone through.”