I need to produce some flash animations for my research at the moment so it seemed like a good idea to test some out on the site. There’s a new front end entrance page as a result. Click here to take a look.

There is a new Mountain Bike World Champion and that’s Specialized’s Filip Meirhaeghe, who rode his Epic FSR to the finish nearly a full minute quicker than Ryder Hesjedal. Damn good effort and hats off to Specialized for spotting his talent and supporting him for this long. Here’s the full cyclingnews report:

After chasing Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) for most of the day, it was three time bronze medallist and two time silver medallist, Filip Meirhaeghe (Belgium) who took the win today and finally realise his dream of becoming World Champion. Meirhaeghe was very happy with his win. “It’s a dream come true,” he said. “Last year I was so close, only 19 seconds behind Roland (Green), and on the start line today I thought it was going to happen again, so I am really happy now.

On the course that has been described over and over as ultra technical, the men completed 8 laps for a total of 49.3km. Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) put the hammer down early to set the pace for the race, with Roland Green (Canada) and Ralph Naef (Switzerland) hot on his wheels. As the race progressed, Green fell off the pace and the Begians started to make up the 50″ they had lost on Hesjedal as did the two Swiss riders, Naef and Christoph Sauser, who rounded off the top 5 on the course.

For most of the race the front five riders remained the same and it was with almost two laps to go that Meirhaeghe bridged the gap to Hesjedal and the pair rode together for what was to be a very exciting finish. Meirhaeghe’s pace proved too strong for Hesjedal in the last lap and he gradually edged away to eventually finish 46” in front. A very muddy and exhausted looking Hesjedal rolled across the line the take second place in his first attempt in the senior ranks and Paulissen took third place to make it Gold and Bronze for Belgium.

Naef came in to take fourth place, however his teammate Sauser wasn’t so fortunate, flatting in the seventh lap and having to settle for 14th place in the end. Designer of the course, Thomas Frichknecht seemed to be suffering early in the race, perhaps feeling the effect of the marathon last weekend, however came back to take a respectable 11th place and defending champion Roland Green also showed the effect of having been out of racing for most of this season, coming in 19th.

Merihaeghe admitted later, to being nervous that Hesjedal had such a strong lead early in the race. “I didn’t actually realize that Ryder was up there at first because I could only see four riders in front of me and I he wasn’t one of them. All of a sudden I saw him and he had 55 seconds on me so I became a bit worried because a minute lead on this course is a lot. Later though I started to catch up and it was only then that I started to believe in my chances.” In fact even after he had caught Hesjedal, Meirhaeghe didn’t relax. “In the second last lap I took too many risks because I was getting tired and nervous, and I started to make mistakes, so in the last lap I took it a little easier because I wouldn’t have been able to cope if I lost due to a flat tyre.”

Of his choice to use a duel suspension bike, Meirhaeghe had no doubts. “I’m sure it was the right decision, in fact I only came here with this bike, I didn’t even bring a hard tail with me. I have been riding the Epic all year now and we have been working on the weight and I am absolutely sure that the weight is not a disadvantage. I think it was easier to recover from the up hills with the dual suspension.”

Hesjedal was happy with his race despite being so close to the win. “This is my third silver medal, but this is by far the most significant because it’s the elite category and it’s only my first attempt. I felt good all day today but when I heard over the radio that Meirhaeghe was catching me I decided to back off a bit and let him catch me. I wanted to let him catch me and then attack to take his spirits a bit, but he stayed right with me and then I knew that he would be very strong for the finish.”

The men’s cross country race wrapped up the 2003 World Championships in Lugano where a crowd of 25,000 people turned up to view the action on the last day. Many riders will now head to the final World Cup in Kaprun, Austria which will be held next weekend. Some will be there to redeem themselves from bad luck this weekend, especially riders such as Christoph Sauser whose puncture cost him a high placing today.

Britain’s Nick Craig finished only 1 minute and 18 seconds behind Roland Green and picked up 24th Place. Frischi, who won the Marathon category earlier in the week, still managed to come in at 11th.

Day two of the Vuelta. The word is “apart from Igor González de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski), the candidates for overall victory are looking like Roberto Heras (US Postal) and Oscar Sevilla (Kelme)”. Well that settles that. Any other takers?

In the same event Cipo is out retiring today. More here. Obviously he isn’t a great fan of Spanish cuisine.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: