FULL SUS regular contributor, Di Carolin is in Cairns for the UCI MTB World Champs. Here’s her first hand report on the Men’s U23 XCO race
Pinch me! Yep! I can’t believe it but I was standing on the side of the XCO course in Cairns at the UCI U23 Men’s World Champs!
It’s hot and humid in Cairns and the course is very loose and dusty. Really dusty! The riders lined up at 2.30 for their race in the heat of the day! Alan Hatherly with number 2 on his board next to the reigning champ Sam Gaze. Julian Jessop a bit further back was also representing SA. They set off at a furious pace and we ran to the jump section to see them come by. Alan was sitting in 4th when he came past.
We then ran up through the tropical undergrowth to a gap jump on a bit of a down hill. Then we raced off to see them at one of the drop offs. It was a vertical wall into deep dust! Allan was staying in the front 4 riders and Sam was at the front as the laps ticked off Sam kept the lead and he and Allan got quite a gap on the other riders.
Then in the second last lap Alan seemed to tire ever so slightly. From what I could hear, from Max our very own SA commentator, Sam seemed to be faster on the descents and that was giving him the edge. Allan pulled back a few seconds in the last lap but it was Sam Gaze from NZ that took the win with Alan only 11 seconds behind him.
Julian Jessop had a fall but still got a very respectable 46th for his first World Champs in a field of 63 riders.
Alan’s finishing time was 1:17:57; on a dusty, loose track with some solid climbs and 4.5kms long that’s pretty impressive in my books! Well done Alan for flying the SA flag sky high. So super proud of you!