Junior Men XC - Final Story

Posted by Editor on 9/18/98.

Julien Absalon has just taken Franceís second consecutive world title, by winning the Junior Menís Cross-country title, however, he was pushed at the end by Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who finished second. Absalon was at the front almost from the beginning of the race, along with Fredrik Modin of Sweden. Hesjedal started further back, back in the 20s, but began to move up almost immediately. He was 20th half way through the starting loop, 15th at the end of the start loop, and 5th by the beginning of the second lap (of 4).

At the front, early leaders Gustav Larsson (SWE) and Ralph Naf (SUI) were overtaken by Modin and Absalon, with American Patrick Bower a surprising 4th. Larsson went backwards in the second lap, as did Naf, leaving Modin and Absalon alone at the front. Absalon started to attack his companion in the third lap, finally dropping him towards the end of the lap. ěI was having my doubts (about winning) in the third lap, but then I was out in front, and that just makes you pedal harder.î The French and European champion completed his triple with an impressive solo victory. Behind him, Hesjedal continued to move up - third by the start of the last lap, and second less than a kilometre later, when he caught the Swede. Hesjedal: ěThe whole race I could see the leaders, I was comfortable with my pace, I knew exactly how hard I could go.î After he caught Modin, and moved into second, Hesjedal actually managed to pull within 20 seconds of Absalon, before a crash and fatigue took their toll. Hesjedalís crash was fairly serious - his whole right leg was dirty and scratched up, and he was favouring his right wrist during the press conference.

Race Notes:

- third place finisher Modin revealed that he had been sick during the summer, and since he had no results, was required to pay his own way to the championships! Maybe the Swedish federation will reimburse him now...

- American Patrick Bower, who finished 4th said afterwards that he had crashed during the second lap. ěIt was so fast, there were not a lot of spots to make up time.î

Results to follow shortly, however, the Espoir (Under 23) Menís race is just starting...

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