Posted by Editoress on 09/3/10
MSA World Championships - Junior Men Cross-country
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Michiel Van Der Heijden provided the Netherlands with the country's first gold, when he convincingly won the Junior men's race ahead of Frenchman Julien Trarieux and Germany's Julian Schelb. Canada was well represented in the top 10, with Evan McNeely and Antoine Caron taking the ninth and tenth places respectively.
Heijden wasn't in the lead for the first half lap of the 26 kilometre race, but he spent the remaining five laps pulling away from the chase group, who were spread out in a long single file line. By the end of the second lap, Van Der Heijden had opened a 28 second gap on Italian Maximillian Videider, Swiss Roger Walder, Schelb and Frenchman Alrick Martin. Trarieux was coming back to the chase group after experiencing a poor start. McNeely and Caron were sitting in eighth and ninth places.
Van Der Heijden kept increasing his lead relentlessly, and with three laps to go, he was 40 second ahead of the chase group now led by Trarieux. Averaging a consistent 17:50 lap, the Dutch rider never looked back, and went on to solo for the gold 1:48 ahead of the second.
Soon after he reached the front of the chase group Trarieux realized that they would not catch Van Der Heijden and gave up the chase to focus on the silver medal spot. The group stayed together for a lap before the French rider gapped the Italian in the descent to grab second place. That left the Schelb and Vieider to battle it out for another lap for the final podium spot. The German had a little more left in the tank and completed the 5.5 lap race 21 seconds faster than the Italian.
On the Canadian side, Caron moved up steadily after losing some ground on the start, passing McNeely 3.5 lap into the race to move himself into seventh place. That energized McNeely and helped him push through the pain. With one lap to go, Caron had fifth place in sight, but a slow leak slowed him down, and he had to coast to the tech zone to get it fixed. While waiting for the new wheel, Walder and McNeely overtook him, and although the repair was fast the Quebec rider lost his momentum, and finished three second behind his Ontario teammate.
"I had a great race, the feeling was really good today" said Van Der Heijden. "It is nice to win with such a big gap."
The French rider in second, although happy to be on the podium, still sounded disappointed: "I had a bad start" said Trarieux, "I never saw the race [for the win], by the time I caught up with the front he [Van Der Heijden] had a 40-second advantage."
The third place finisher, on the other hand, was ecstatic "It's the best race in my life, I am really happy."
"It was a great finish for me," said McNeely. "I came 11th and 21st in Europe earlier in the season and so ninth is the best international finish I've ever had."
"My result is still not bad, but knowing that I could have been fifth is really heart breaking," said Caron after his race. "It's a mix of emotions. I was thinking top 15 [before the race] but I knew top 5 was feasible."
Caron had many supporters - his friends followed him around the course, shirtless with the letters C A R O N ! written on their bellies.
Report by Claire Bonin and Rob Jones
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